Mango Worms in Dogs – How Infestation Happens [Cause, Symptoms & Treatments]

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Mango worms in dogs are not very common in the USA but are a (literal!) thorn in the flesh of dog owners in parts of central Africa, Uganda, South Africa, and most countries in the African continent.

Although not a common headache to the average American or European dog owner, you still have to be aware of this parasite as they can be unwanted visitors that travelers have brought back from their holidays.

Mango worm infestation happens in dogs when their skin comes into contact with a mango flies hatched larvae. This can happen when dogs dig or roll in soil, especially if contaminated by feces or urine which mango flies are attracted to. Mango flies also lay eggs in dog’s feces, bedding, or even damp clothing left outdoors to dry.

These types of materials and environments become breeding grounds for mango flies and their hatched larvae will burrow unsuspectingly into a dog or mammals skin.

What Are Mango Worms and Mango Flies?

Now that you know the irritating effects that mango worms can have on your dog, I’m sure you’ll want to know more about this parasite and how to stop them.

This article contains all of the information about maggot worms (as they’re sometimes known), and how you can avoid current and future infestations in your dogs.

But it’s useful to know what you’re dealing with first. What are mango flies and their worms?

The mango flies life cycle is fairly simple.

mango fly life cycle illustrated
source: wiki commons media

The female lays her eggs in soil, feces, bedding and even clothing.

The eggs take around 3 days to hatch and at this point, they need to find a host.

They have up to 2 weeks to do so (or they won’t survive).

Once they find a mammalian host like a dog or yes, even humans(!), then they burrow inside the skin and feed on both living tissue and subcutaneous (fatty) tissues for around 2-3 weeks as they grow and reach maturity.

During this time, the boil under the skin will become more and more visible and larger in size, as well as having a very noticeable hole and a black dot on top of the boil.

The mango fly is then ready to crawl out of its host and start this grizzly process all over again.

How Do Dogs Get Mango Worms?

Mango worms find their way into the dog’s skin through contaminated soil containing feces or urine.

They can even be infested through their bedding if it’s outdoors.

We all know dogs love to play in the dirt and are usually at their merriest when rolling around creating a mess.

Unfortunately, these fun doggie activities are also the most mango worm-prone areas.

This is where they are most likely to get infested.

It takes two to three weeks for the mango worm larvae to do their damage under the dog’s skin and become adults.

If a large infestation is left untreated or not attended to in good time, you’ll have to accommodate a sick and uncomfortable dog (with sores all over).

How Do I Know if My Dog Has Mango Worms?

There are a few ways of knowing that your dog has a mango worm infestation.

Below are the symptoms of a mango worm infection in dogs:

Mango Worm Symptoms in Dogs

1. Blisters or boils

The most obvious sign is when you start to see your dogs skin looking irritated with numerous blisters and boils on the surface of the skin.

If this is the case, mango worms are likely present.

If the boils have black dots in their center, then you know for sure your dog has a mango worm infection.

If it is not visibly obvious quite yet, see the below symptoms.

2. Unusual behavior

When your dog has mango worm larvae eating deep into its skin, it begins to behave abnormally and even react violently or erratically.

The infestation will be costing the dog its sleep and comfort so some irritability is to be expected.

You may notice the dog rolling on the ground in an unusual manner as though it is trying to get rid of something in its fur.

If you notice any unusual behavior and traces of red boils on your dog’s skin, you should take steps to remove mango worms from your dog.

However, if the infestation is large in number, hurry to a vet near you for professional veterinary advice and removal.

3. Fever

Mango worms are not to be joked with because, in larger numbers, their burrowing activities will cause a high temperature in your dogs as they’re feeding on your dogs living tissue.

When they infest your dog’s skin, they’ll cause hurtful red boils that can cause injury to your dog, and lead to fever.

In small numbers, your dog may likely avoid this symptom, but if they have have had lots of mango fly eggs hatch and burrow under their skin, a fever is very common as your dogs body tries to fight off the mango worms.

4. Difficulty sleeping

With lots of mango worms in your dog, they may be robbed of rest, as the pain and skin crawling wouldn’t make sleeping an easy task.

You may hear your dog whimper at night.

This may mean the mango worms are at work and you need to take quick action.

5. Itching

When the mango worms find their way deep into the dog’s body, small bumps start to be evident all over.

Just as it is with humans, the dog will be inclined to itch the spot and they can get act funny if they can’t scratch properly.

That’s when you see it rolling in the soil, taking short runs, and biting the itchy spot.

They will even be able to feel the skin maggot fly wriggling around underneath their skin. Not what any dog, human or any animal wants to feel.

6. Skin redness

The mango worm larvae stay and feed inside the boils that look like large pimples on the dog’s body.

And the effect of this is the redness on the dog’s skin. You need to go to an expert vet when you notice this happening in mass.

Avoid prescribing drugs or handling the situation yourself but visit a vet because they’ll provide safe veterinary treatment that can get you on track to solve your dog’s problems.

7. Lethargy

Lethargy ends up happening in dogs who have severe infestations of mango worms.

In the worst cases, you’ll see dogs who have hundreds and thousands of mango flies larvae in their body.

These individual larvae are each feeding on the dog’s living tissue, and thousands of them doing so will cause extreme lethargy.

In these most severe cases, if the infestation isn’t treated, it can be fatal to the dog.

Generally, almost all cases of mango worms in dogs if treated, will ensure survival.

How Do You Prevent Mango Worms in Dogs?

Mango worm prevention is the best way to make sure your dog doesn’t get mango worms.

But this isn’t easy since female mango flies’ lay eggs which are practically invisible to the human eye.

Some of the best ways to prevent mango worm infestation in dogs is:

Use an effective fly repellant:

It would be unwise to use any fly repellant you find in the store, so make sure to meet with your vet to know which would be a safe, harm-free and effective version for your dog, in your local region.

You can even use organic fly repellants like coconut oil or peppermint oil. Or even a simple mix of lemon and water.

Wash your dog’s bedding regularly:

Washing with hot water may prevent this parasite worming its way into your dog.

Try not to dry washed clothing outside:

If you have a dryer machine, then use this instead but this may not be possible depending on your circumstances.

If an infestation occurs regardless of these measures, then you need to either start taking measures to remove the infestation or get veterinary guidance if you notice many boils.

Treatment – Getting Rid of Mango Worms in Your Dog

You can treat mango worms in dogs in the following ways:


An easy way to get rid of mango worms in your dogs is to suffocate them.

It is a very easy process and you can do it yourself, however, you have to be careful to avoid causing an infection.

In large infestations, contact your vet.

Here is the step-by-step process to suffocate mango worms:

1. If there’s a scab, start by removing the scab on the protruding boil.

2. Do this by rubbing the scab with oil so that your dog will be comfortable and not feel too much pain from the scab falling off.

3. You’ll notice a black dot in the boil after you’ve removed the scab – this indicates a mango worms larvae.

4. Next, put Vaseline or another type of petroleum jelly or wax to cover it up.

5. The Vaseline helps to suffocate the mango worms and when there is no oxygen left for them, they surface out of the boil through the black dot.

6. Either use finger pressure on either side of the mango fly larvae boils or tweezers to carefully pick and dispose of them. Be very careful not to pop the maggot worm as this could cause an infection in your dog.

Popping Them Out

This method is as it sounds. Similar to pimple popping – imagine popping out large pimples and you’re close.

The larvae feed under the dogs skin and squeezing the, out is a simple method for treatment and removal.

It’s not a pleasant method but it gets the job done.

Can’t imagine it? Here’s a video for those who have a strong stomach:

Important: you must be very careful not to squash the larvae when removing mango worms as this could cause infection in your dog!)

It is very effective in treating your dogs against mango worms.

As a dog owner, you may do this yourself but if you have access and infestation is severe, it’s best to leave the job to your vet.

It involves squeezing and ejecting the mango worms from the boil.

Again, be careful when popping and ensure that all the worms/larvae in the boil are fully removed and not squashed or it could cause an infection.


Administering injections to a mango worm-infested dog is another great treatment method.

Ingredients such as lidocaine and epinephrine are effective to get rid of the mango worms in your dog’s body.

Can Mango Worms Kill Dogs?

Very rarely. Puppies will be most at risk if they have a severe case due to their small size and underdeveloped immune systems.

They generally won’t take a dog’s life but will give it discomfort to the point where they will barely want to move, in severe cases.

However, when you discover mango worm infestation in your do, ensure you take immediate action.

The early stage might not be noticeable because the larvae painlessly burrow into the dog’s skin. But with time, a boils develop and it gets highly irritating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are common questions people ask about mango worm infestations in their dogs

Where Are Mango Worms Found on a Dog’s Skin?

Mango worms can be found in the dog’s tissue.

The larvae breed and burrow in there, creating hurtful red boils, and when they are matured, they come out and turn to flies.

The mango worms find their way into the dog’s skin when the dog comes in contact with contaminated soil.

You can’t separate dogs from dirt, so they’ll always find some to dig or sleep in, giving room for the mango worms to get in its fur.

Where do Mango Worms Originate From?

Mango worms originate from East and Central Africa and can withstand high heat (they’re a tropical fly)

However, they have found their way to other countries as a result of travel.

The mango worm larvae can get into clothing or other materials and infest wherever they settle.

They will need a host’s skin to survive, so the common hosts for mango worms include dogs and rodents.

There have been cases of mango worm infestations in other parts of the world, so as a dog owner, you have to be on the lookout for them amidst other kinds of worms that can infect your dog, even if you’re not from a high-heat, tropical region.

Are There Mango Worms in The United States? 

The presence of mango worms in the United States is rare.

However, there have been recent cases of infestation in dogs so you do have to put them on your watchlist when battling roundworms, tapeworms, and heartworms among others.

Can Humans Get Mango Worms from a Dog?

Humans can not get mango worms from their dogs.

This is because they do not pass from host to host.

However, you should note that you can also be infested with mango worms which might not be from your dog, but from the same sources where your dog was infected.

Final Thoughts on Mango Worms in Dogs

Mango worms aka putzi fly, tumbu fly are a nightmare when they infest your dog.

The pain and agony your dog may face when the mango worm feeds on its tissue is an experience you don’t want.

This article has talked about everything you need to know about mango worms, where they are commonly found, their infestation, how they can be prevented – all of the information you need.

We hope that it helps you in combating these parasites from infesting your dog.

If you need any further information, please see your local vet where they can provide veterinary advice for treatment

When checking for roundworms, tapeworms, heartworms, and hookworms in your canine companion, you may also have want to have your vet check for and prevent mango worms, if you’ve traveled to Africa recently.