Maggot Infestation

maggot infestation

What Exactly is a Maggot Infestation?

Maggots are small, white, worm-like parasitic insects that infests dead or dying animals and feeds off decaying tissue. It is not only a common sight in our backyards, it is also becoming more prevalent in urban settings as well. The parasitic stage of the fly life cycle requires an intermediate host, which usually means the maggots need to find their way into your dog’s home.

A maggot infestation, or medically named myiasis, is a condition when flies lay eggs in open wounds and those eggs develop into maggots. Maggots can be considered as external parasites but cannot be prevented with traditional external parasite prevention.

Pets, especially dogs and cats that live outdoors, are more susceptible to this gross condition because they are prone to wounds and scratches and their immune system is usually weakened. For a fly to lay eggs it is not always necessary for it to be an open wound.

A maggot infestation can occur even in wet, filthy coats covered in urine and feces, which is the perfect feeding and breeding ground for the eggs to hatch. After the eggs hatch, the maggots continue to feed on dead or dying tissue.

How do we Diagnose and Treat Maggot Infestation?

Diagnosing maggot infestation is easy because we just need to visualize the maggots on the skin, coat, or wound. The treatment of a maggot infestation should include shaving the coat and removing the maggots either by hand or with a topical treatment that will kill them fast (this depends on the localization of the infected wound).

After the maggots are removed, the dog or cat should be on antibiotic therapy. Some types of myiasis, such as cuterebras, may require surgical removal. In the end, once all the maggots are removed from the wound, the skin infection should be treated topically too.

maggots on a piece of decaying meat

The Perfect Breeding Ground For a Maggot Infestation

The common term ‘maggot infestation’ in dogs is actually a very accurate description of what happens when some control measures fail. A maggot infestation occurs when a maggot hatches from an egg deposited in or near the mouth of an animal, and the maggot then finds its way to the stomach through the esophagus.

Maggots are usually found in dry, compost-rich areas where there is minimal food intake . Prey animals such as rabbits, rodents, or dogs in yards or fields provide the necessary food source for the maggots.

The adult maggot is a transparent worm and looks like an earthworm. It appears after several weeks of hatching and can cause some degree of discomfort to the dog until it is properly managed.

It may not be possible to cure a severe infestation. In that case, control is achieved by removing the nest and sanitation with proper vet care. The brown house fly is implicated in the breeding and feeding of maggots.

compost bin

How Can I Prevent a Maggot Infestation?

The best way to keep our pets away from flies and maggots is to keep their coats clean and if any wound appears then the wound should be treated immediately and kept clean. Old pets or already sick and debilitated pets are more prone to wounds and scratches so it would be best for them to keep them indoors to prevent maggot infestation.

If you suspect that your pet might have a maggot-infested wound or you see those maggots swirl take your pet to your vet ASAP.

On the videos below you can see a few cases of maggot infestations and cuterebra infestations that were sent by our Facebook followers.

If you liked this article, read “Giardia in dogs” on our blog