Do midges bite dogs? Midges are one of the many bugs that are known to bite dogs. Their bites can be itchy and painful, but can affect individual dogs differently. Midge bites often are nothing to be worried about. But, these little flies can carry and pass on a number of diseases. If you’re worried your dog has been bitten by a midge, read on for more information about symptoms and when to speak to the vet.
Do Midges Bite Dogs – Contents
Click the links below to jump straight to a certain section.
- What are midges?
- Do midges bite dogs?
- Signs of midge bites on dogs
- How to treat dog midge bites
- How to prevent dog midge bites
- Do midges carry diseases?
- When to take your dog to the vet
Let’s start by finding out a little more about these tiny insects.
What are Midges?
Midges are very small flies that bite and suck blood of hosts. Some people call them ‘no see ums’ because they are so tiny. But their scientific family name is ceratopogonidae. There are over 6000 individual species within this family of insects. Midges can be found in most places in the world. They are known to bite people as well as other mammals. So, no matter where you are in the world, if you notice a small bite on your dog, there’s a chance it could be from a biting midge.
Do Midges Bite Dogs?
Sadly for our pups, yes midges do bite dogs. Biting midges get blood from a large number of hosts, particular mammals and birds. However, not all types of midges will bite dogs. Studies have suggested that some are opportunistic and feed whenever they can, whilst other types are more selective.
Midges are so small, and there are so many different types of these flies.So, it will most likely be impossible for you to know in advance if there are dog-biting midges around you. You will probably only realise it has happened if your dog shows signs of being bitten.
Signs of Midge Bites on Dogs
Midge bites in dogs might look a lot like any other insect bites. It’s important to remember dogs may react differently to one another when bitten. Mild signs of an insect or midge bite include:
- Itching or biting the same area excessively
- Rubbing against a wall or other objects
- Excessively licking the bitten area
- Red, raised bumps on skin
- Swelling around the bite
However, some dogs can react in more extreme ways. More extreme signs include vomiting and difficulty breathing.
How to Treat Midge Bites
Most dogs don’t react to midge bites. In fact, you might not even notice if your dog has been bitten. If you notice that your dog is showing signs of a midge bite, you need to first determine if that is definitely what is causing the symptoms. Signs of a midge bite in dogs are very similar to signs of allergy. So, something else in your dog’s environment could be causing these symptoms.
Your vet can help you find out whether it is a midge bite causing these symptoms. They may prescribe antihistamines or anti-inflammatory medication if the symptoms are only mild. If your dog is suffering more seriously from a reaction to midge bites, your vet may use more serious treatment options, such as corticosteroids and oxygen therapy.
How to Prevent Dog Midge Bites
Even though you won’t notice midge bites on most dogs, you still might want to act to prevent them. Some people use insect repellents to keep midges and mosquitoes away. But, these products can contain ingredients that are harmful to our dogs. So, always check ingredients of any insect repellents, and never use it without checking if it is safe for dogs too.
The best way to prevent midge bites is to avoid hotspot areas. If you do encounter a large swarm of these flies, the best thing to do is quickly move through it. Midges are slower than us and our dogs, so you’ll be able to get away pretty easily. Because these bugs are so tiny, it might be hard to avoid them altogether. Especially if they are flying solo – they can be pretty hard to spot!
Do Midges Carry Diseases?
Perhaps one of the most worrying parts about midge bites on dogs is the concern that they will spread diseases to our pups. Most dogs, when bitten by midges, will be fine. But studies have shown that midges can carry and transfer some diseases to other animals.
The two most studied are the Bluetongue Virus and African Horse Sickness. Other diseases carried by midges include:
- Epizootic hemorrhagic disease
- Blood parasites of domestic and wild birds
- Equine onchocerciasis
- Equine allergic dermatitis
Can my Dog Catch These?
Most of these diseases affect other animals, such as cattle, horses, and birds. So, whilst your dog can carry and spread the illnesses, he’s unlikely to actually suffer from them. However, your dog could still have a negative reaction to midge bites. So, keep a close eye on his behavior if you suspect a midge has bitten your dog.
When to Take Your Dog to the Vet
Do midges bite dogs? Yes. But, it won’t always warrant a trip to the vet. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms we spoke of above, you should give your vet a call. They may want you to bring your dog in so they can monitor them over time. But, they may just ask you to call again if things get any worse.
If you aren’t sure that your dog has been bitten by anything, but he is showing signs of being unwell, always check with your vet. The symptoms of midge bites are shared with other health problems. Your vet will be able to determine the cause of your dog’s symptoms, and help them in the most appropriate way. If in doubt, it’s always best to at least call and check with your vet.
Do Midges Bite Dogs – Summary
So, do midges bite dogs? Sometimes yes, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. In fact, most times you won’t even notice that your dog has been bitten. If your dog is showing signs of irritation and you think he has been bitten by a midge, it’s best to check in with your vet. Do you live somewhere with lots of midges? How does your dog react to these little flies?
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References and Resources
- Mullen, G. & Murprhee, S. ‘Biting Midges (Ceratopogonidae)’, Medical and Veterinary Entomology (2019)
- Lassen, S. (et al), ‘Identity and Diversity of Blood Meal Hosts of Biting Midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae: Culicoides Latreille) in Denmark’, Parasites & Vectors (2012)
- Kay, B. (et al), ‘Blood Feeding of Biting Midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) at Kowanyama, Cape York Peninsula, North Queensland’, Australian Journal of Entomology (1978)
- Hunter, T. & Ward, E. ‘Insect Bite Reaction in Dogs’, VCA
- Oura, C. & Harrak, M. ‘Midge-Transmitted Bluetongue in Domestic Dogs’, Epidemiology and Infection (2010)
- Oura, C. ‘A Possible Role for Domestic Dogs in the Spread of African Horse Sickness Virus’, VetRecord (2018)
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