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Are Maggots Harmful to Dogs?

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Quick Answer

Maggot exposure can lead to a condition called cuterebra in dogs that causes a variety of medical symptoms that can lead to complications if not treated. According to PetMD, symptoms of cuterebra infection include warbles that contain the maggot directly beneath the skin, cough, fever and shortness of breath.

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Neurological symptoms of cuterebra infection include dizziness, lying down, circling, paralysis and blindness, says PetMD. Maggot larvae that migrate to the eyeball can cause lesions. Maggot infestations can also cause shock and lethargy. Dogs typically acquire maggots when outdoors, as maggots flourish in grassy areas. A maggot can easily attach itself to the fur of a dog and enter the body through an orifice. Once inside the body, it travels through the internal tissues until it reaches the skin surface, creating a warble.

Dogs can also acquire maggots through contact with flies. Dr. Tripp Stewart of Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital explains that flies often lay their eggs in skin folds that contain urine or feces or infected bite wounds, as flies are attracted to decaying odors. Eggs typically hatch within one to three days and the maggots begin to feed on the decaying skin or skin that contains feces or urine. After the food source is diminished, maggots typically begin to feed on the healthy skin of the animal, creating small holes and burrowing through the tissues. Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment includes hospitalization, IV fluids and antibiotics.

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