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What "black fly/buffalo gnat season" means for your dog

Every spring we are faced with quite a few dogs coming in with a scary looking rash on their bellies. They have a “bull’s-eye”, which many people associate with Lyme disease, transmitted by ticks. Thankfully, this is NOT the case. This pattern is typical for bites from black flies.

These black flies (often called buffalo gnats) will appear typically in the months of April and May and will leave red spots on the abdomen. There can be just one or two spots, or there can be many. They vary in size, but typically are all smaller than a nickel. Some have dots in the center and some will look very red (almost like bleeding). They typically pop up on the underside of the dogs where there is not a lot of fur.

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The good news is that these bites will almost always resolve on their own within a week without the need for any treatment. However, some pups will be more sensitive than others. They may lick the lesions and in some cases, there may be secondary bacterial infections.

If your dog seems sensitive to these bites, the first thing to do is give a gentle bath with cool water and either soap (i.e. Ivory or Dawn) or dog shampoo. You can also consider a topical cream to soothe the area – in this case, we would recommend giving us a call to see what the best course of action would be. Sometimes, we will prescribe antibiotics or other medications if it is indicated.

When in doubt, give us a call or send us a photo – but typically these lesions are nothing to worry about! Just one of the wonderful perks of spring in the Northeast!


Should you have any questions, comments or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us by phone at 845-876-6008, or by e-mail at [email protected].

Thank you for choosing us to be part of your pet's healthcare team!

With warmest regards,
Your friends at Rhinebeck Animal Hospital

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