How To Tell The Difference Between A Tick And A Black Fly Bite

May 10th, 2018

Have you ever noticed a mark on your pet and gone into a Google spiral of paranoia?

When you look up anything medical on the internet, it often can be very scary and you’re not likely to find anything useful. Not because there aren’t legitimate articles, studies, and journals published online, but because when you’re scared, you tend to search for things that will intensify that fear.

If you live somewhere that ticks are prevalent, you’re going to want to keep educated on what their bites look like. You might be mistaking a tick bite for a black fly bite!

A Wood Tick

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Remember, if your pet has any unexplained bites or markings, you should contact your vet and have them examined.

If your dog has a tick bite, you’re going to want to get them to see their vet to make sure they do not have Lyme disease or any other diseases that are transmitted via ticks (Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Powassan Virus Disease, Borrelia miyamotoi Disease).

Sutton Animal Hospital, located in Massachusetts, shared a picture of a bite that looks awfully similar to a tick bite. Meet the black fly bite!

A tick bite

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Fall Roads Vet Source: Fall Roads Vet

On Facebook, they wrote:

“Its officially black fly season and these are unavoidable nuisances in the Blackstone Valley. Black flies may not only find you a tasty feast, but also your pet. Black flies are small, biting flies that are pests to people and animals living, working, or playing near running rivers and streams.

A black fly bite

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Facebook Source: Facebook

Black flies are sensitive to weather conditions, and are most active on cloudy, humid days with low wind. Black fly bites are painfully itchy and are created when the fly cuts a hole in the skin to suck blood from animals and people.

The flies attack around the eyes, ears, scalp and occasionally on the arms and exposed legs. The pain and swelling of the bite are due to the body’s allergic response to the fly’s saliva that they inject when feeding.”

A black fly

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Wikipedia Source: Wikipedia

Unlike ticks, black flies do not transmit disease, nor do their bites cause too much discomfort to your pet. Their bites tend to be more uncomfortable for humans. However, if you spot one of these bites, you will want to keep an eye on your pet to see if they exhibit any symptoms.

  • Excessive irritation of the skin
  • Excessive licking and chewing at the site of the bite

While everyone thinks that tick bites have the telltale “bullseye” mark, not every bite does and does that are infected with Lyme disease do not always exhibit symptoms according to the Sutton Animal Hospital.

A black fly bite

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Facebook Source: Facebook

You can look for these symptoms for Lyme disease:

  • Spontaneous and shifting leg lameness that lasts 3–4 days
  • Loss of appetite and depression
  • Reluctance to move
  • Fatigue

Knowing the differences between bites helps you determine if your pet needs medical attention ASAP.

If you are interested in knowing more about tick bites, you can read this article on the differences between tick species and what their bites mean.

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Source: Sutton Animal Hospital