Parasites are one of the worst experiences you and your pet can have, and mango worms are no exception. They invade the skin and cause all kinds of health problems and pain. While they aren’t as well known as fleas or ticks, they can still be problematic.
Dog owners will want to be careful of areas contaminated by feces and urine, watch for any red boils and irritation on their pets, and head to the vet if necessary if there’s an infestation.
Pet owners living in Africa or Uganda should be especially cautious of these little demons. Owners in other countries don’t have to worry nearly as much, but it’s still always best to be safe. Even if it’s not mango worms, we have plenty of other parasites to worry about.
Mango worms can invade your pup’s skin and cause red boils on the body, which can be very painful.
What Are Mango Worms?
Mango worms are the larvae of insects called mango flies. They are also sometimes called skin maggots or tumbu flies.
They’re a species of blowfly whose larvae will invade and feed on a mammal’s skin until they mature. Once they mature, they’ll leave red boils on the body.
These creepy parasites are mostly found in Africa and Uganda. You’re not likely to find them in the United States or other countries. That said, there have been cases of infestations in the United States and other places, so pet owners should still be aware.
You should also be careful if you and your pet have been traveling.
How Do Dogs Get Mango Worms?
Dogs usually get mango worms from playing around in an area that’s been contaminated with feces or urine. Mango flies commonly leave their larvae in these types of soil where they can easily find a host.
Like many parasites, these little demons don’t have any obvious effect on your pup at first, so it’s nearly impossible to tell that they’ve been infected. You may not notice they’ve been infiltrated until the larvae mature.
After a few weeks, your poor pup will break out into red boils, meaning that the parasites have matured and are ready to burst. It’s disgusting to think about, but it’s also the one major sign that your companion needs help. At this point, your pup will probably be in a great deal of pain.
If left alone, the parasites can get out and contaminate the rest of your home. It’s important to get them dealt with as soon as you realize your dog has been infested.
Your pet can get infested by larvae while in an area contaminated with urine and feces. These areas can attract mango flies that leave larvae behind.
Determining if your dog has mango worms can be tricky. The larvae won’t hurt them at first. Many symptoms can be attributed to other problems as well, making a diagnosis even harder.
The most noticeable and obvious symptom won’t occur until the larvae mature and form red boils and start erupting from the skin.
A dog dealing with mango worms may have boils all over their body and may scratch and bite at their skin a lot. They’ll likely be very itchy.
They may understandably have trouble sleeping and may even have a fever.
A mango worm infestation can be incredibly painful and stressful for your pup, so it’s important to seek intervention if they have one.
How to Treat Your Infected Dog
If you think your dog has been infested by mango worms, it’s important to consult your vet immediately. While there are options for treatment, it’s best to leave them to your vet.
For one thing, ridding your companion of the worms can be a disgusting process. If reading this makes you uncomfortable, imagine how uncomfortable doing any of this would be.
More importantly, if you try to do it yourself and leave anything in the skin, your pup could end up with an infection. It’s best to leave it to the professionals who have probably done this before.
Always take your companion to the vet if you think they’ve been infested with any parasite.
Once you take your companion to a clinic, the vet may recommend an injection to get rid of the parasites. These injections may include epinephrine or lidocaine, two ingredients proven to be effective in getting rid of the larvae.
Popping the Boils
This method involves squeezing the boils and ejecting the pimple from the dog’s skin, thus removing the worms.
This may be done by pinching the boil from both sides the way you’d try to pop a pimple, forcing the worms out. Tweezers can also be used to ensure everything is removed.
If you go with this method, make sure you don’t leave anything behind. If you make a mistake and leave any pieces behind, it could lead to an infection. Again, I recommend letting a vet handle it rather than trying to do it by yourself.
After treatment, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help cure the wounds.
Suffocating the Larvae
Vets may also recommend suffocating the larvae. This may involve taking off each boil’s scab and putting a sterile wax or jelly over them. The substance is put on the black holes formed on the boils.
The substance will seal the pimple and force the worms out from lack of oxygen. You can then use tweezers to grab them and get them away from you and your pup.
How to Protect Your Dog
The best thing to do is protect your dog from getting infected in the first place. It can be difficult since you can’t see them, but there are some precautions you can take.
You need to be especially cautious if you live in Africa or Uganda as those are the places they mostly live in. It can’t hurt to be cautious even if you live in a different country. Be especially cautious if you and your pet are traveling.
You should be diligent about your surroundings and items to protect your pup from mango worms, especially if you live in a country where they’re common.
Avoid Contaminated Soil
Try to avoid areas that you know have been contaminated with feces or urine if you live in a country where mango flies are common. These are the areas where they’re most likely to leave their larvae for your pup to run into.
If you can’t avoid going to an area, you may want to keep an eye on them and try to restrict them from digging, rolling around, or laying in the contaminated ground. Have your pup do their business and then go somewhere else.
Make sure you don’t contribute to the problem by leaving the ground contaminated. Always pick up after your companion as much as possible. There’s not much you can do about urine, but you should always have waste bags with you to pick up poop.
Make sure you bathe and groom your pup often. Keeping their coat and skin clean is always a good preventative against any parasite. Bathing also gives you a chance to inspect your pup’s skin for any abnormalities.
You should be especially diligent about your pup’s grooming schedule if you live in a country populated with mango worms and have to take your dog to a potentially contaminated area.
Wash Bedding Regularly
You never know what could be hiding in your dog’s (or your) bedding. It’s best to wash any dog beds or blankets in hot water every couple of weeks. The hot water should kill any larvae hiding or anything else your pup may have brought in from outside.
If you and your pup are in constant contact with potentially contaminated areas, it may be best to wash everything weekly, or as often as possible.
Keep Flies Away
If you live in an area where mango flies are a problem, you’ll want to keep them as far away from your home and pet as possible. You may want to purchase a pet-safe bug-repellent spray to keep them away from your dog (and you).
You should also keep the areas you go to as clean and uncontaminated as possible. Always make sure you’re picking up after your dog (and other animals, as annoying as it may be) so the feces doesn’t attract flies.
If you see any other fly attractors in the area like rotting fruits or garbage, pick them up and throw them away securely. Cleaner areas are safer for you and your furry companion anyway.
While mango worms are more of a danger to your dog, they can get on you as well. They will not pass on from your dog to you, but they can infect you on occasion. While protecting your dog is important, you need to protect yourself too.
If you must go into a potentially contaminated area, make sure any items are secure and kept off the ground. If you do put anything down, make sure to wash them thoroughly in hot water and don’t use them for a while.
You should also avoid sitting or laying in the area. Wash any clothes you wear out there.
While mango worms don’t commonly attack humans, it can happen. Make sure you’re diligent about washing your clothes and items and don’t sit or lay in an area where larvae may be hiding.
Avoid leaving your clothes lying around as larvae can hide in them. Be careful about leaving your clothes out to dry or on the ground anywhere where mango flies may live.
Keeping Your Dog Safe From Mango Worms and Other Parasites
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Mango worms may not be fatal, but they are painful for your dog and disturbing for you. Like ticks and other parasites, it’s important to prevent them from getting into your dog in the first place. Keep them out of areas contaminated with urine and feces as much as possible.
Make sure you’re watching your pup’s skin for any boils and watching for any distress like biting or scratching at the skin. If you notice the boils, call the vet immediately. It’s best to leave the treatment to the vet so they can ensure the parasites are removed and they can prescribe your pup medicine if needed.
Parasites do not care how cute and sweet your furry companion is. They will infest them and hurt them to survive. Make sure you’re taking precautions and watching over your pet for any abnormalities. Always have your vet’s information handy for an emergency.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.