Black Fly Vs Tick Bite On Dog: How To Tell Them Apart

black fly vs tick bite on dog

Affiliate Disclosure: When you buy a product via our links, we sometimes earn a referral fee. Learn more

Summertime is the season for outdoor activities with our furry friends (why not go on a road trip?), but it can also be the season for pesky bugs. While both black flies and ticks are bothersome, it’s important to know how to tell them apart so you can best protect your pet.

In this blog post, we’ll rundown the key differences between black flies and ticks, as well as what you need to do if your dog is bitten by either one. Let’s get started!


What are black flies and ticks, and what do they look like?

Black flies

Black flies are a type of fly that measures about 2 to 10 millimeters in length. They have large compound eyes and mouthparts that can pierce skin to feed on blood from mammals, birds or reptiles. Their wings are covered with fine hairs which make them harder for pets to see.


Ticks are small arachnids that measure between two and six millimeters in length. They have eight legs, a body made up of three sections and chelicerae which they use to pierce the skin and feed on blood. Ticks like to hide in tall grasses or leaf litter before they attach themselves to a host.

How to tell if your dog has been bitten by a black fly or tick?

The signs of black fly bites on dogs are similar to tick bites. If a black fly bites your dog, you may see dark spots on the skin around the bite because black fly mouthparts contain an anticoagulant to help blood flow. While black fly bites usually aren’t dangerous, they can cause irritation and be itchy.

If your dog has black fly bites, you may notice an increase in their scratching and licking at the affected area. They may also develop a skin infection due to excessive scratching.

Ticks cause more serious problems for our pets because they not only bite, but they also carry diseases that can be transmitted to dogs through tick saliva. Signs of tick bites on dogs include:

  • Dogs that act lethargic or fatigued
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Itchy red bumps or sores surrounding the bite area, especially if there’s black discharge coming from the wound. If you notice black discharge around your dog’s tick bite, you should take them to see a veterinarian right away.

How long does a black fly bite last on a dog?

A black fly bite on a dog should start healing within a few days. When black fly bites are fully healed, they won’t have black discharge coming from the wound. If black discharge is present, that means your dog’s black fly bite isn’t entirely healed yet. 

Tick bites can take weeks or even months before they’re fully healed.  They may leave behind black crusty scabs that are harder to treat.

What to do if your dog has black fly or tick bite?

While black fly bites are usually harmless, there is a rare risk of infection. If you think your dog has a black fly bite, or if they’re showing signs of it (like swelling around the affected area), it’s important to take them to see a vet.

Ticks can also carry diseases such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which they can pass on to your dog when they bite them. If you suspect your pup has been bitten by a tick, bring them to a vet immediately.

If your black fly or tick bite doesn’t seem to be healing, don’t hesitate to take them in for a check up with a vet as soon as possible.

How can black fly and tick bites be prevented?

Here are a few tips you can follow:

  • Keep your pup safe from black flies by keeping them inside (and hydrated!) during peak biting hours, which usually happen between 10 am and 5 pm.
  • Treat black fly bites by applying antibiotic ointment to the affected area. If the swelling is concerning, it’s best to have your dog seen by a vet.
  • Check your pet for any ticks after outside exploration – check under the collar – to keep them from getting tick-borne diseases, and make sure to remove any ticks with tweezers.
  • If your dog starts to show symptoms of any diseases, get them checked by a vet immediately.

So, to sum up on black fly vs tick bite on a dog – black fly bites are usually harmless, but they can cause irritation if not treated. Tick bites are more serious because they carry diseases that pets can contract from the ticks themselves.

Final words:

So there you have it – the lowdown on black fly bites vs tick bites. Now that you know how to tell them apart, hopefully you can take appropriate action and get your furry friend feeling better soon! 

Have you ever dealt with a black fly or tick bite before? Tell us more about your experience in the comments below.

Leave a Comment