It’s just a fact of life that dogs eat weird stuff. They help themselves to all sorts of questionable items, and many of them aren’t actually considered edible (like socks or coins).
This time of year in particular, flies are in hot pursuit of making us all crazy and the correct canine response to their yuckiness is to snap their jaws around them, often in mid flight. This can be amusing (and certainly helpful), but is it unsafe when a dog eats flies?
Aside From the Gross Factor
Many dog owners have trouble accepting this perfectly natural canine behavior because it’s pretty gross when you think about it. But dogs are predators and, at the end of the day, they have their own instincts to answer to despite displeasing their beloved owners.
Is It Fine, Or…?
Just because it’s “normal” when a dog eats flies, this practice may not be something you want to continue all the time or throughout their entire lives. Sure, snacking on an occasional “sky raisin” might be fine, but it does create a pattern that may have unfortunate results.
Dogs with a strong prey drive, or working breeds, may have a stronger inclination to chase bugs. If this behavior begins to get out of control or veers into obsession, it can become harder to curb down the road. It is usually possible to wean your dog off compulsive behaviors through additional opportunities for mental and physical exercise.
Dangers of Other Bugs
It’s possible that your dog can tell the difference between various flying insects. However, when a dog eats flies, a potentially dangerous precedent is established. What would stop a fly-eating dog from attempting to chomp down wasps or other stinging, venomous insects?
Similarly, many bugs come equipped with different defensive mechanisms, such as terrible taste, discharge, spines, or irritating hairs. Many bugs can also transmit parasites, such as tapeworms, when eaten by dogs.
Dogs Eat Flies, So What?
It is normal and natural for dogs to eat bugs (and, really, all sorts of other weird stuff). They like to munch on flies, grasshoppers, crickets, and even an occasional spider. The bottom line is that as long as your dog isn’t suffering from any negative side effects, and they aren’t behaving in an overly obsessive-compulsive way, you can chalk this up to just another odd canine quirk.
A Look at the Diet
If your dog’s overall behavior is normal, and they still go to town whenever they see flies, it may be worthwhile to question if they’re getting what they need nutritionally. The health of their digestive system is central to their general wellness, and we’d be happy to help you understand more about their age and lifestyle-specific nutrition.
This may go without saying, but flies are attracted to all sorts of smells – good and bad. Always keep your yard picked up, keep trash contained, and limit attractions for flies. Maintain screened windows and doors, and be sure that your dog is up to date on all the parasite prevention medication.
If you have other questions related to dog behavior, we’re always here for you at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital.