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My Dog Keeps Eating Flies, What Should I Do? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ


May 15, 2023
Border Collie looking at a fly


Border Collie looking at a fly
Dr. Joanna Woodnutt Photo

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Like all animals, dogs tend to engage in all kinds of weird behaviors, including eating flies. Some dogs simply can’t withhold the excitement that they feel when they hear the buzzing sound in the air, and they run straight to the fly, trying to either catch or eat it.

If you’re a dog parent, this behavior may concern you because flies are typically considered gross bugs that annoy us. However, many dogs consider insects to be treats, hence why they try to eat them. So, if your dog eats a fly every now and then, there’s typically no need to worry, as this behavior is entirely normal.

Read on to learn why your dog keeps eating flies, if such behavior is safe for dogs, and if there’s anything that you should do about it.


Why Do Dogs Eat Flies?

Dogs are natural-born hunters and scavengers, so it’s in their nature to hunt, catch, and search for their prey. This also means they tend to eat all kinds of items that we may find gross. Since pet dogs typically don’t have opportunities to hunt wild animals, they will hunt insects instead, including house flies.

Chasing, hunting, and eating flies are fun for your dog because these actions are mentally and physically stimulating. Some dogs may also engage in such behaviors due to boredom or too much energy.

Dogs with high prey drive and activity levels are more prone to chasing and eating flies, though this behavior could occur in any dog. It’s also common for dogs to eat flies as a sign of stress and anxiety, as these can cause compulsive behaviors in dogs.

Some dogs may also eat flies simply because they like the taste!

Image Credit: Buntysmum, Pixabay

Is Eating Flies Safe for Your Dog?

Eating a fly every now and then shouldn’t harm your canine in any way. Many people believe that their dogs could get sick from eating a fly due to the diseases that they can transmit. However, after a dog eats a fly, the acidic content of their stomach dissolves the flies and kills any bacteria, preventing possible disease transmission. Nonetheless, they can still carry unwanted creatures that may harm our dogs so it is important to update your dog’s regular deworming for prevention as prescribed by the veterinarian.

That said, while eating flies won’t transmit a disease to your dog, that doesn’t mean eating flies is 100% safe. Flies are mainly outdoors before accessing our homes, which is when they can get in contact with insecticides, pesticides, and similar chemicals that people use to kill bugs. Dogs that consume a fly doused in insecticide or pesticide may experience GI issues, vomiting, and upset stomach.

As dogs are unable to recognize insects like we can, your dog may eventually eat a poisonous, toxic insect that could lead to various health problems. If you encourage eating flies, the behavior could become compulsive and increase the risk of your dog eating a toxic insect, which is why it’s best to deter your dog from this behavior.

How to Deter Dogs From Eating Flies

If your dog only occasionally eats flies, there’s no need to worry or try to stop the behavior. If it becomes compulsive, however, they will start eating flies frequently and in large quantities, which could lead to health problems.

There are a few things that you can do to deter your dog from eating flies:

  • Provide your dog with regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
  • Provide your dog with fun activities, toys, and enough play time throughout the day.
  • Secure screens in your windows to prevent flies from accessing your home.
  • Train your dog to stay away from insects, including flies especially when you do outdoor activities where flies and other insects are plenty.

There’s no way to ensure that your dog will never eat another fly in their life, but it’s still important to try to reduce these behaviors to keep your furry companion happy and healthy.

Siberian husky in a forest laying on the ground and catching insects
Image Credit: Alice Saxon, Shutterstock

What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats a Fly?

If your dog eats flies but seldomly, there’s nothing in particular that you need to do about it. However, if you notice frequent or compulsive fly eating and chasing in your dog, it may be best to deter your canine from eating flies and other insects. Consult your veterinarian or animal behaviorist if you think the behavior is no longer normal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are Insects That Dogs Should Never Eat?

Eating flies isn’t necessarily good for dogs, but this behavior won’t do them much physical harm. However, dogs may stumble upon other insects and decide to eat them too. Consuming unfamiliar insects may lead to poisoning and health problems.

Here’s a list of insects that your dog should never eat:

  • Spiders and scorpions — These insects contain venoms that are harmful to your dog.
  • Stinging insects — Some dogs are allergic to wasps and bees, which is why you should never allow your dog to eat these insects. Dogs may also get stung while trying to eat a wasp or a bee, which could be potentially dangerous for them.
  • Fireflies — These insects are toxic to many animals because they contain lucibufagins, a self-defense toxin almost similar to those released by toads.
  • Cockroaches — These insects may carry diseases and parasites, which could transfer to your dog after ingestion.
  • Caterpillars — Most pets, including dogs, may find that their stomach gets irritated if they eat a caterpillar. Many caterpillar species are toxic, and eating them can lead to vomiting, drooling, and trouble swallowing.

Is There a Cause for Compulsive Fly Eating in My Dog?

Compulsive fly-eating in your dog could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as boredom, anxiety, or even depression. Most of the time, this behavior is not too alarming, but you should still observe your canine and talk to your vet if you notice any other changes in your dog.

dog owner talking to vet
Image Credit; SeventyFour, Shutterstock

My Dog Is Chasing Flies That Aren’t There, What Should I Do?

If your dog is chasing flies that aren’t actually there, this may be a sign of seizures, hallucinations, or even epilepsy.

Chasing non-existent flies may also be a sign of syringomyelia, a common neurological disorder in toy breeds. Some dogs may also see “phantom flies” due to eye problems or rapid eye movements.

In this situation, it’s best to speak to your vet, who will perform further testing to see what’s happening with your furry companion.


Final Thoughts

If you see your dog eating a fly every once in a while, there’s no need to panic, as the behavior is entirely normal. However, if the fly-eating habit becomes compulsive or your dog starts to chase phantom flies, it may be a good idea to speak with your vet and ensure that your dog is okay.

Featured Image Credit: 4924546, Pixabay

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