Can Dogs Eat Flies? Here’s Everything You Should Know

Can Dogs Eat Flies? Photo of a dog looking to a group of flies.

Have you ever seen your dog snapping at something buzzing around? It could be a housefly. But, can dogs eat flies? Are those dangerous? Below is the information you need to know!

Dogs are perfectly fine to eat flies, assuming they’re your classic fly — commonly referred to as houseflies. While stinging and biting bugs can cause a problem, classic flies are harmless.

However, you will want to keep an eye on how many they eat because eating too many at once can lead to digestion problems, transfer over parasites, and even create an intestinal blockage.

Why do dogs eat flies?

Dogs eat all sorts of weird stuff, including flies. Experts agree that there can be a few reasons your dog might be snacking on flies. The main one is that they simply enjoy the way that they taste. To us, they’re disgusting bugs, and to them, they’re treats! 

Sometimes dogs will eat flies when they’re bored, too; sort of like how we humans will pick flower petals off of the flowers when they’re killing time. There’s no need to do it, but it can be a lot of fun.

Lastly, it’s just plain fun to eat flies as far as your dog is concerned. 

Unlimited claims, No credit checks, No upper age limit & Multiple pet discounts

Compare the best rates on pet insurance

Why do dogs try to catch flies?

Do you have a situation where your dog loves to try to catch flies only to ignore them and toss them aside the moment they finish the hunt? Or nibble at them and then just spit them out again?

The hunt and the actual eating process are a little different as far as your dog is concerned. The hunt itself can be a lot of fun for your dog. Since it activates the predator/prey drive in them, hunting the fly down to “win” is a huge source of entertainment! Once they catch it, however, the fun is over, and they have no interest in doing anything else.

The second common reason dogs try to catch flies is that they are annoying to dogs. They are noisy, make dogs itchy, and disrupt a dog’s relaxation. Dogs will hunt them down simply to destroy the nuisance.

Are flies toxic to dogs?

Flies themselves are harmless, and they are great treats and loaded with protein, making them wonderful options when looking for a dog to grab a bite. In rare cases, bugs can bring risks with them, however. These are parasites and possibly insecticides/pesticides.

Parasites come from feces and other composting materials. Since flies are well-known for feeding on many of those things, it means that they can then transfer the parasites that they pick up to your dog when he eats them.

Even though your dog is immunized against a lot of the parasites out there, they can still have an infestation that will cause a problem that will require treatment. This is common if your dog is due for a booster shot, or they eat quite a few flies!

The second possible complication is that they may pass on poisoning to your dog. In this case, they’d have to have ingested poison from their food source or been saturated in it during an insecticide treatment. When your dog eats them, this poison will pass on to your pet, and you’ll need to take him to the vet.

Since flies often avoid insecticide since they can fly and are more prone to spend time in the living part of a home rather than the perimeter treatment location, this is rare!

What if my dog eats a biting/stinging fly?

If your dog does eat a fly that does bite or sting (such as horse flies, wasps, etc.), then you will be dealing with a situation where it can bite or sting your dog in his mouth or his throat. This can lead to swelling, which can cause breathing problems and a lot of pain. While flies are typically harmless, eating a biting or stinging fly is always a serious situation and should be taken as such!

Can a dog get sick from eating flies?

In some cases, dogs can get sick from eating flies, yes—two complications we’ve discussed already are pesticides and parasites. However, there are two other examples that we need to go over. These are indigestion and the possibility of an obstruction.

Indigestion is going to happen if your dog is small and has quite a few flies (say, more than 3.) In this case, their stomach will struggle to digest their protein-rich snack, which can lead them to feel nauseous and prone to diarrhea and vomiting. The larger the dog, the more they can eat without digestive issues.

Of course, dogs with sensitive stomachs may find that all it takes is one fly to set off a round of diarrhea or vomiting. 

The other complication potential of an obstruction also focuses on amounts. If a dog eats quite a few flies (such as finding all sorts in one spot), they may end up with a clump in their stomach that doesn’t digest properly due to the richness of the ingredients.

As the clump moves throughout their digestive tract, it can get stuck and cause everything else to back up behind it. This is called an obstruction, and it will need emergency surgery to remove so that your dog’s health is not jeopardized.  

What happens if my dog ate a fly?

Don’t panic if you’ve realized that your dog has eaten a fly. As discussed above, one fly will not be enough to cause any serious concerns. If he’s just snapped up one “sky raisin,” the most likely complication you’re going to be dealing with is some mild indigestion at the most. So mild that you are only going to notice it because you’re looking for it. A few liquified bathroom tips and maybe some compulsive swallowing if your dog feels some nausea.

If he’s helped himself to a bunch of them, however, then it’s possible that you only saw him eat one, and he’s actually had a few. Take a look around to see if other dead or alive ones are hanging around. If so, you can assume he’s had more than one!

If you aren’t entirely sure about the number, err on the side of caution and call your vet. They’ll recommend whether to bring your dog in or just to monitor at home.

Symptoms to look for when my dog ate a fly

Feeling nervous about what to watch for? Signs of a complication (any of the ones that we’ve mentioned above) include:

  • Nausea and diarrhea (longer than 24 hours)
  • Lack of appetite or thirst
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Shaking and fever
  • Loss of consciousness

The more that your dog shows these symptoms, the more likely it is that he’s having a complication from his snack. 

How to stop my dog from eating flies

You certainly do not need to allow your dog to eat flies if it makes you uncomfortable! There are no nutritional benefits to them, and it is a gross problem to deal with when it comes to indigestion!

Make sure to focus on his obedience training with the “stop” or “drop it” command. When you notice him catch a fly, tell him the command, and he’ll do so. This is great for when you want to test his obedience, too!

Secondly, redirect his attention to a toy or a cuddle with mom or dad. Throw on a fan, too, since it’ll help keep the flies away from your dog and can distract and lull him, too!

If you cannot get your dog to stop eating flies even when you’ve tried these tips, it’s possible that his lizard brain might be using flies to fill a nutritional gap. Talk to your vet about your dog’s nutrition and ask them to recommend a specific kind of food that will feel those needs.

All in all

Dogs can eat a few of these safely with only mild digestion when it comes to classic houseflies. However, biting or stinging bugs should be avoided at all costs.

All bugs can come with a potential complication of parasites or obstructions, so you’ll want to know the most important symptoms to watch for.

In most cases, dogs eating flies will not cause a problem, as long as it’s only 1-3 flies and they don’t bite or sting!

Have a pet parent in your life that is freaking out bout their dog’s love of sky raisins? Share this with them to help them relax!

Unlimited claims, No credit checks, No upper age limit & Multiple pet discounts

Compare the best rates on pet insurance

Photo of author
Andre Neves

Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.