How Do Dogs Get Mango Worms?

Any dedicated dog owner knows the dangers of parasites. Mango worms are no exception. These pesky larvae, also known as mango flies or skin maggot flies, like to make their home underneath the skin of your beloved pet. Untreated, a mango worm infestation can lead to all sorts of problems.

Dogs can get mango worms by digging, lying on or walking on soil containing freshly hatched larvae. These larvae burrow under the dog’s skin and feed on the dog’s tissues until they are matured. Then they erupt from their unsuspecting host in painful and unsightly boils.

While mango worms themselves can be intimidating, familiarizing yourself with the parasite’s life cycle and symptoms your dog may exhibit can help to keep you and your pet safe. Read on to learn more about this tropical fly!

How Do Dogs Get Mango Worms?

How do mango worms get into dogs? Female mango flies typically lay their eggs in soil that has been contaminated with feces or urine.

When your dog rests, rolls or walks on this bare contaminated ground, young larvae can burrow their way into their skin. This process is often painless, and your dog likely won’t even notice anything is different.

Once the mango larvae have successfully entered their host, they continue to grow for 2-3 weeks by feeding on the dogs’ tissues.

After around three weeks, you may notice your dog’s skin erupting in red boils. Unfortunately, these boils contain maggot worms that will soon burst from the skin to continue their life cycle outside of your dog.

can mango worms kill dogs
Boils on a dog’s skin containing mango worms

Can Mango Worms Kill Dogs?

While mango worms are often not a fatal parasite, they’re still not something you want your dog to come in contact with. It’s important to seek medical attention for your dog as soon as you notice signs of an infection. If left untreated, serious consequences can arise.

Where Do Mango Worms Live?

Mango worms in dogs feet and other places

Typically mango worms enter their host through a dog’s feet

However, depending on the points of contact between the infected soil and your dog, mango larvae can enter your pet through their ears or nose, which can be extremely dangerous. Brain damage can occur if the larvae are able to move freely.

Mangoworms in USA

This species of blow fly is common to East and Central Africa. There’s been few cases of dogs with mango worms diagnosed in the USA.

What Are the Symptoms of Mango Worms in Dogs?

Mango worms are difficult to spot right away, as the larvae enter the host painlessly and often lie undetected until it’s time for them to continue on their way. However, there are a few ways to spot an ongoing infestation. Watch your dog closely for signs such as:

  • Scratching and biting incessantly;
  • The formation of pimple-like boils on your dog’s skin (refer to image below);
  • Behaving oddly.

Do note that these signs can lead to a plethora of different causes. The only way to truly know what is plaguing your dog is by making an appointment with your veterinarian.

Removing Mango Worms: How It’s Done

The process of removing mango worms from your dog’s skin is certainly not for the faint of heart, and you may decide to leave the heavy lifting to your vet (I certainly would!). We recommend seeking professional help as your dog may need to be prescribed antibiotics following the removal of the maggots.

Typically, mango maggots are removed from your dog by squeezing and popping the boils that form on his skin (refer to earlier video). This will subsequently eject the maggot from its residency. The wound should be cleaned immediately following this extraction.

how do mango worms get into dogs
Vet squeezing the mango worms from a popped boil

The removal process may be more or less involved depending on how many bumps have formed on your dog’s skin, as each bump contains a maggot. Each wound should be inspected carefully to ensure that no maggot parts have been left behind in the skin.

How to Prevent Mango Worms

Luckily, a mango worm infestation can be easily prevented by limiting your dog’s chances of coming into contact with fly-contaminated soil. 

Humans can contract mango worms as well, so exercising caution is a great way to prevent infections all around.

Below are several ways to prevent mango worms from burrowing into your dog’s skin.

Observe your dog

Mango worms are tricky to notice until it’s too late

Oftentimes, you may not even realize your dog has contracted the parasite until his skin erupts with new adult worms. 

Therefore, it is important to watch your dog in areas where there’s a high amount of feces and urine. 

Avoid contaminated areas

Keeping your dog away from feces is always a good rule of thumb, especially when avoiding a possible mango worm infestation. 

Additionally, be sure to avoid creating breeding grounds for flies by consistently removing your dog’s feces from your yard.

Use a fly repellent

The best way to avoid mango worms is by keeping adult flies away from your home and dog. 

Special fly repellent sprays can be purchased at pet stores that are safe to use on your dog. 

Consider spritzing your pup several times over before going out for your daily walk.

Wash bedding in hot water

Heat kills mango worm eggs and larvae. 

One way to prevent an infestation is by regularly washing your dog’s bedding in hot water and then ironing to ensure all possible parasites are thoroughly removed. 

This process can be done weekly or biweekly, depending on your dog’s contact with possible infected areas.

Remove rotting fruit

If your yard is home to fruit trees, you may notice rotting fruit scattered throughout the area. 

To avoid inviting mango flies into your home, remove this fruit immediately, as it attracts flies of all kinds. 

Additionally, rotting fruit can harm your dog if ingested, so removing it altogether is the right way to go.

Bathe your dog

Lastly, bathing your dog regularly can help to avoid a mango worm infestation. Not only will your dog be cleaner, but bathing him will give you the opportunity to inspect his skin for possible signs of infection.

How Do Humans Get Mango Worms

If your dog has come into contact with an area containing mango worms buried in soil contaminated with feces or urine, it’s possible that you have as well. And if you’re not careful, fully grown mango worms may detach themselves from your dog and remain in your home, ready to begin the cycle again.

The only way for mango worms to enter a host’s skin is through direct contact with a contaminated area. Once they have taken up residence in your dog, they are no longer a threat to you. Therefore, your dog will not directly pass mango worms on to you as a human.

It is best to be on the defense at any point in time because you’ll never know when your dog may pick up mango worms and bring them into the area where you live. 

Related Questions

Where do mango worms come from?

Mango worms are common in tropical and warm areas, specifically East and Central Africa. In fact, it’s largely unlikely to find these pesky bugs in places such as North America and Europe. Therefore, it’s important to consult a vet if you suspect a mango worm infestation, as the cause of your dog’s suffering may lie elsewhere.

While uncommon, it’s still possible for your dog to contract this parasite outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Know the signs and symptoms regardless so that you can feel confident in caring for your dog.

Mango worms vs Mango flies – are they the same thing?

Larvae of mango flies are also called mango worms. They are parasites. 

Mango flies are also referred to as the skin maggot fly, the tumbu fly or the putzi fly.

Can puppies get mango worms?

If your puppy lies, rolls or regularly walks on contaminated soil, then yes, they can get mango worms.

The poor puppy in the video below contracted hundreds of mango worms at just 3 weeks old.

Final Thoughts

Mango worms are a frightening parasite that is typically more unsightly than dangerous. However, they should be treated immediately. Avoid possible contact with contaminated areas by keeping your dog’s bedding clean and investing in fly repellents! 

We hope that this article has explained how do dogs get mango worms. 


Michelle loves enjoying the outdoors with her dogs. She grew in a big house near the beach with German Shepherds. Nowadays, Michelle has down-sized her dogs to poodles, proving small dogs can enjoy the outdoors too! Her dogs enjoy playing fetch, swimming, and long walks. Michelle and her dogs enjoy escaping the city limits to hike, camp, and swim.

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