Mango Worms in Dogs: Mango worms, also known as tumbu fly larvae, are parasitic worms that can infest dogs, especially in tropical regions. These nasty little creatures start their lives as eggs laid by the tumbu fly and hatch into larvae, called mango worms.
The female tumbu fly lays her eggs on the ground, usually in areas that are damp and frequently soiled with feces. When your dog walks by, the larvae attach themselves to its skin, burrow in, and become embedded under the surface. The larvae feed on your dog’s tissue for several weeks before emerging as adult flies.
- The worms appear as swollen, infected lumps under your dog’s skin, often around the paws, nose, and genital area.
- They can cause pain, irritation, and secondary infections if left untreated.
- Diagnosis is usually made based on the appearance and location of the lumps, as well as your dog’s exposure to the tumbu fly. Skin scrapings or biopsies may be needed to confirm.
The good news is mango worms can often be removed easily using a sterilized sharp instrument to extract the entire larvae. It’s a simple procedure, but should only be done by a vet to avoid injury or infection. They may also prescribe medication to reduce inflammation and prevent secondary infections.
Keeping your dog out of damp, shady areas where the tumbu fly breeds and checking frequently for any unusual lumps are the best ways to prevent infestation in the first place. Staying vigilant, acting quickly if mango worms are detected, and keeping your dog as comfortable as possible will get you both through this unpleasant experience.
How Dogs Get Infected With Mango Worms
Dogs can pick up mango worms in a few ways.
- Direct contact with infected animals. If your dog comes into contact with an animal infected with mango worms, like another dog with an open sore, the larvae can crawl onto your dog’s skin and burrow in.
- Exposure to contaminated soil. Mango worm larvae can live in the soil for months, so if your dog digs, rolls, or walks through contaminated dirt, the larvae may penetrate their skin. Areas where infected dogs have defecated also pose a high risk.
- Biting insects. Certain flies, like tumbu flies, lay their eggs in the soil. When the eggs hatch into larvae (mango worms), the flies deposit them onto your dog’s skin, fur, or an open wound. The larvae then burrow under the skin and develop into adult worms.
To reduce the chance of infection, check your dog regularly for any open sores or lesions and treat them promptly. Be very careful if taking your dog to areas where mango worms are common, like tropical regions. Don’t allow them to roam or dig in places that may be contaminated. You should also consider using a vet-approved repellent, especially if traveling to high-risk areas.
By knowing how dogs get mango worms and taking some basic precautions, you can help prevent these parasites from infesting your dog. If you do notice signs of infection, get your dog checked out by the vet right away for diagnosis and treatment. The earlier mango worms are found and removed, the less damage they can cause.
Signs and Symptoms of Mango Worms in Dogs
If your dog has mango worms, there are some signs and symptoms to look out for. Be on alert if you notice any of the following in your dog:
- Swollen areas on their skin, especially around the ears, paws, and anus. Mango worms enter through the skin and burrow underneath, causing swelling and irritation.
- Red, raised sores or lesions. As the mango worms tunnel under the skin, they can cause sores and lesions.
- Scratching or licking at the infected area. The burrowing mango worms can cause an itching sensation, leading your dog to scratch or lick obsessively at the area.
- Draining wounds or pores. You may notice an oozing discharge coming from holes in the skin where the mango worms entered or are tunneling.
- Lethargy or decreased appetite. A high mango worm infestation can make your dog feel unwell overall, causing them to become lethargic or lose their appetite.
- Visible worms emerging from the skin. In some cases, you may actually see the mango worms poking out from the holes in the skin or even emerging fully from the sores. These worms can be 1 to 2 inches long.
If your dog is showing any suspicious symptoms, especially skin lesions or swelling, it’s best to have them checked out by a vet as soon as possible. An exam will determine if mango worms or another skin parasite is present. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to preventing discomfort for your dog and potential complications like secondary infections. Your vet can provide medication to eliminate any mango worms present and help nurse your dog back to full health.
Treating and Preventing Mango Worms in Dogs
Once you’ve identified mango worms in your dog, it’s time to get treatment started right away. The good news is, with prompt veterinary care and prevention at home, mango worms can usually be eliminated.
Your vet will need to surgically remove the worms from your dog’s skin. This is done under sedation to keep your dog still and pain-free. The area around each wound is shaved and cleaned, then the worm is grasped with forceps and gently pulled out intact. Any pus or dead tissue is also removed to prevent infection. The wounds are flushed, treated with medication, and closed.
In severe cases, hospitalization and IV fluids may be required. Oral and/or topical medication will also be prescribed to prevent infection and promote healing. Be sure to give all medication as directed to cure the infestation.
The key to preventing future infestations is eliminating access to mango flies and their larvae. This means:
- Practice good hygiene. Bathe your dog regularly and check for any wounds, rashes or lumps in the skin. Clean any open sores and treat with antiseptic.
- Control the environment. Pick up feces in your yard daily and clear standing water that can breed flies. Use fly traps, repellents and pesticides to control the mango fly population, especially in warm, wet weather.
- Protect wounds and openings. Apply repellent or ointment containing permethrin or similar around any wounds, ears, nose and anus where flies may lay eggs. Reapply as directed.
- Groom and inspect. Brush or comb your dog regularly to remove dead skin and hair where mango flies can hide eggs. Check for any lumps, rashes or irritation on the skin, especially on paws, ears and tail. See a vet right away if mango worms are suspected.
- Limit outdoor activity. Keep dogs indoors as much as possible during peak mango fly seasons or in areas with high populations. Walk dogs on leash only and avoid long-grass areas.
By following veterinary treatment and practicing diligent prevention, mango worms in dogs can be managed and future infestations avoided. Be vigilant, act quickly if worms are spotted again, and keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
How did my dog get mango worms?
Mango worms, also known as Cordylobia larvae, enter your dog’s skin through direct contact with infected soil or sand. The larvae can burrow into the skin and remain there until they emerge as adult flies. Your dog may have come into contact with infected soil at a park, beach, or even in your own backyard.
What are the symptoms of mango worms in dogs?
Once the larvae have burrowed into your dog’s skin, you may notice swelling, irritation, and open sores in the area of infection. Your dog may seem uncomfortable or lick, bite, and scratch at the site. The area around the infection may become bald, and in severe cases, you may see the larvae visibly moving under your dog’s skin.
How are mango worms treated?
The most effective treatment is manually removing the larvae from the skin. A vet will use sterile forceps to extract the larvae, then clean and treat the wound to prevent infection and promote healing. They may also prescribe oral medication such as ivermectin to kill any remaining larvae. In some cases, minor surgery may be needed to fully remove the larvae.
Are mango worms contagious to humans or other pets?
Mango worms themselves are not contagious to humans or other animals. However, the flies that transmit the larvae can spread the infection to other dogs. Humans cannot become infected with mango worms, though the open sores on an infected dog may lead to bacterial infections if proper hygiene is not followed.
Can mango worms be prevented?
The best way to prevent mango worms is to practice good hygiene and limit your dog’s exposure to potentially infected areas. Apply topical flea and tick prevention regularly, check your dog for any open wounds after being outside, and avoid walking in areas with standing water or excessive sand. Cleaning up pet waste in your yard can also help reduce the fly population.