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Ask the Vet – Dealing with Flies

Today is Ask the Vet and our first question deals with those summer fly’s that irritate all animals. Dr. Billi Tiner has some advice on how to conquer the fly situation and make your dog more comfortable.

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Hi Dr. Tiner,

My dog is a German Shepherd and she lives outside. Every summer the flies eat her ears and they become raw and bleed. I coat her ears in cream and spray her down with fly repellant. Even with the fly repellant the flies still find her ears. What is the best treatment for protecting her ears?

Dr. Billi Tiner


There are several issues involved with this question.  First, it is very important to consider why the flies are attracted to the dog’s ears.  Often dog’s with a thick coat like German Shepherds will develop “hot spots” during the warm summer months.  “Hot spots” are localized skin infections caused by moisture trapped against the skin.  This warm moist environment is very attractive to bacteria which cause the infection.  The infection is then, in turn, very attractive to the flies.  The dog will often scratch at the irritated area causing the problem to worsen.  Another issue that goes along with the “hot spot” on the outside of the ear is an actual ear infection.  The ear infection is caused by the same moist environment that caused the “hot spot”.  So, it is very important to have the ears checked by a veterinarian to ensure that the ears are not infected.

One of the ways to prevent the moist environment that attracts the flies is to shave the dog’s ears during the summer.  They may look a little funny, but this will help prevent that warm moist environment that is attracting the flies.

Finally, it is important to eliminate the things in the environment that may be attracting the flies and providing a breeding ground for them.  The dog’s pen should be cleaned as often as necessary to ensure that the environment stays clean and doesn’t attract flies.  If the flies are still present after all precautions have been taken, then things like fly tape; fans to cause an air current; and fly repellents are your only options.

Disclaimer:  These articles are to for informational and educational purposes only.  For information on diagnoses and treatment of specific veterinary medical conditions, please consult your local veterinarian.


About Dr. BilliTiner:

Dr. Tiner has been a veterinarian for over 15 years.  She is also an author of children’s books.  All of her books have animals as the main character and are written from the animal’s point of view.  Her current novels include, Welcome Home, Heart of a Hero, and Friends for Life. To learn more about Dr. Tiner and her books visit You can also follow her on Twitter @Tinerbooks or on Facebook

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