Maggots and dogs

A maggot infestation, called myiasis, is a seasonal, warm-weather condition most often caused by the bluebottle or blow fly, which lays its eggs on open wounds or on badly soiled, matted fur. Debilitated dogs and old dogs who are unable to keep themselves clean are susceptible to maggots.

The eggs hatch within three days. Over the next two weeks, the larvae grow into large maggots that produce a salivary enzyme that digests the dog’s skin, causing “punched-out” areas. The maggots then penetrate the skin, enlarge the opening, and set the stage for a bacterial skin infection. With a severe infestation, the dog could go into shock. The shock is caused by enzymes and toxins secreted by the maggots. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Treatment: Clip the affected areas to remove soiled and matted hair. Remove all maggots with blunt-nosed tweezers. Wash infected areas with Betadine solution and dry the dog. Then spray or shampoo the dog using a nonalcohol-based product that contains pyrethrins. Repeat as described for Fleas and check closely for remaining maggots.

Dogs with infected wounds should be treated with oral antibiotics. If the dog is debilitated, her health and nutrition must be improved to bring about a cure.