How Do I Know If My Dog Has A Botfly?

What Is a Botfly? What Are the Signs of a Botfly Infestation in Dogs? There is a lot you might need to know if your dog does have a botfly. 

In this article, we will help you understand what this parasite is, how you can tell if your dog has them and what you can do about it. So, without further ado, let us get started!

How Do I Know if My Dog Has a Botfly

What are Botflies? 

Also known as Cuterebra, these larvae form within a host animal body. An adult botfly will lay its eggs in the skin of humans and animals. When they hatch, the maggots will burrow into the tissue.

These creatures will develop under the dog’s skin. There are many species of these larvae or maggots that can be found in the United States. 

These Cuterebra are most often found in rodents like rats or rabbits. So, if a dog spends a lot of time outside and interacts with these animals they will be more likely to get one of these parasites. 

What are the Symptoms? 

If your dog has contracted botfly they will most likely show certain symptoms. Below you can see a short list of what you might see if your dog has botfly: 

  • You may notice a lump on your dog
  • You may notice that they are scratching or licking one spot incessantly
  • You may see a small hole in the center of the lump
  • You may notice that the area is swollen
  • You may notice that the afflicted area has a skin abscess

What Causes Botfly?

But what causes this horrible parasite to infect your dog? Below you will see the main reasons for a dog contracting this condition: 

  • If your dog hunts rabbits.
  • If your dog spends time around wild rabbit burrows. 
  • If your dog interacts with rats, rabbits or other rodents. Specifically nesting areas. 
  • If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the summer months. 

But did you know that there are two main types of botflies: The primary type and the secondary type. Both types cause damage to the dog and their owner. They both require similar treatments. 

Primary Type

A primary botfly infestation occurs when the larva enters through the skin. It then develops inside the dog for about two months before it comes out. If this happens, there are no symptoms. You should see a veterinarian right away to prevent any complications. 

Secondary Type

A secondary botfly infestation begins with the maggot, or botfly larva,  entering through the same wound where the primary infestation began. This means that the first infestation was not treated properly.

Because the second infestation occurs after the first one is already established, it does not have as much control over the infection. It takes longer to treat because the parasite is now deeper in the skin than it would’ve been if it were the primary type.

How is this Condition Treated? 

There are a few ways your dog can be treated for a Cuterebra infestation. All the suggestions below should be determined and executed by a veterinarian. This is so that when the Cuterebra are removed safely. If they are not, they can release harmful substances into your dog’s bloodstream. 

Below you can see the most common procedure a veterinarian may use to rid your dog of their botfly infestation: 


The first thing your vet may do is to give your dog a sedative that will put your dog to sleep for a time. This is so that they are relaxed and do not feel pain while the vet takes the botfly larvae out. 


Once your dog is asleep, your vet will use special tools to take the botfly out of the dog. They must be very careful not to rupture any larvae during this process as this can cause adverse side effects for your canine companion. 


Once all the larvae have been removed your vet will probably prescribe your dog medication to help them recover. An antibiotic is not always necessary, but this may depend on how bad the infestation was. 

What Does Recovery Look Like? 

Once your dog is free of the larvae it will be super important that you make sure that the area does not become infected. Your vet should tell you what you should be looking for should anything go wrong. 

If you see any of the signs that your vet told you to look out for, you will need to contact them so that they can tell you what to do or if you need to take your dog back in. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we understand what botfly is, what the symptoms are, and how to cure it we are sure that you still have a few questions surrounding this topic.

Below we have a selection of frequently asked questions that have been answered. So, without further ado, let us begin!

Will a Botfly Come Out on its Own? 

The short answer is yes. Botfly larvae will eventually leave their host once they have matured. But this will be a fairly long and painful process. The spines on the bodies of the larvae burrow into the flesh of the animal and of course, they grow bigger as they mature. 

What Should You Do if Your Dog has Botfly?

If your dog has botfly it is important that you do not try to get rid of them on your own. Instead, you should take your dog to the vet where your canine companion can get the care that they need. 

What Happens if the Cuterebra is Removed?

It is possible for an untreated botfly infestation to return. However, there are some risks involved with trying to remove the larvae yourself. If your pet’s botfly comes back, removing the larvae again could lead to more harm than good.

Can a Botfly Maggot Kill Dogs? 

Botfly infestations are usually more disgusting than dangerous. But there have been rare cases where the larvae have burrowed to the brain of the dog and caused death. This is EXTREMELY rare and most often this is just a pretty gross infestation for your dog to have. 

How Do You Treat Your Dog’s Cuterebra at Home? 

If you really want to treat your dog’s botfly at home you will need to clip the hair around the area so that you can see what you are doing. Then you should find the breathing hole.

Once you have found this spot you can use petroleum jelly and cover the hole. Leave it like this for about fifteen minutes before you try to remove the larvae from the area. 

This is not a recommended procedure, and we suggest that you take your dog to the vet instead of trying to deal with botfly on your own. 

Will Vinegar Kill Botfly Eggs?

This is a very old method people have used to try to get rid of botfly eggs. It helps to make the eggs drop off the dog before they have hatched which will stop any of the larvae from hatching and burrowing into the animal. 

You can also pull the eggs off using your fingers if you really want to, but this is a very time-consuming process and means that you have to get your hands dirty. 

What Does a Botfly Fly Look Like?

Adult botflies are quite large and kind of fuzzy like bumblebees. Their coloring is usually yellowish or brown, and they have vestigial mouthpieces which help them feed more efficiently. Botflies live for a very short amount of time. 

How Common are Botfly Infections? 

They are common in warm climates and places with high humidity. They are also common among dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors. 

What Do Botfly Eggs Look Like?

The eggs are most often laid on the ends of your dog’s hair and are a grayish-yellow. They are very small, only 0.05 inches long. 

How Do You Prevent Botfly Infestations? 

To prevent these infections it is best to keep your dog out of areas where they can easily become infected. If you have noticed that your dog has interacted with any wild rodents you should make sure that there are no eggs on your pet’s coat. 

Where do Botfly Cases Happen Most Often?

In warmer parts of the world such as Florida, California, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and South America botflies are very common. 

Final Thoughts

 The main thing to remember is that if your dog does have botfly then it is better to let the professionals handle it. As mentioned earlier, there are too many risks associated with trying to do this on your own.

We hope that you enjoyed learning about botfly larvae and what you can do to help your dog if they ever come in contact with these parasites. 

Have a fantastic day!

Megan Turner