How Can I Treat A Hole in my Dog’s Skin?

Is your little pooch scratching a little too hard? Or perhaps, you just accidentally came across a wee lump under their skin. If so, you might wanna keep reading!

From insect bites to food allergies, a dog’s coat can develop holes for a number of reasons. While some of these may be completely safe (such as, ingrown hair or good ol’ acne). In other cases – a hole in their skin could be cause for concern.

After all, your dog’s furry coat is a thick covering that protects them from many bacterial & fungal infections.

So if you are worried about what these little holes mean for your pup’s health & well-being – here’s everything you need to know!

Diagnose First!

To effectively treat your dog, it is important to diagnose the underlying cause of the skin condition.

To be on the safe side, you should immediately visit the nearest vet for a proper physical examination. In most cases, a few pictures of your dog will just not be good enough to give a complete picture of their condition.

Remember, the correct diagnosis will make sure your dog gets the right treatment at the right time!

Botflies – The Most Common Cause of Holes in a Dog’s Skin

Cuterebra is a common fly that is native to Northern America. More commonly known as botflies – they are also called ‘warbles’ or ‘wolf worms’. Unfortunately, the botfly is no friend of your dog who can become an accidental host for this parasitic fly.

Here’s how these little botflies come to live inside your dog:

  • An adult botfly will lay eggs near openings of rodent nests and rabbit burrows.
  • Your dog, who may be hunting a rodent or rabbit, can come in close contact with the eggs (say, by sniffing or touching).
  • These tiny maggots then crawl around the dog’s coat until they can find an opening to enter (usually, this is the mouth, ear, nose, or even an open would). 
  • Once inside the host, the dog’s body temperature stimulates the botfly eggs to hatch.
  • The resulting larvae then form a cyst under the skin of the host.
  • Once settled under the skin, a small breathing hole is formed through which the botfly breathes.
  • After a month, the larva exits the host through this breathing hole – it forms a pupa on the ground.
  • The empty cyst left behind is highly prone to getting infected or developing into a skin abscess.
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Common symptoms

  • Lumps and bumps on the dog’s skin
  • Holes in the middle of a lump
  • excessive scratching of the infested area
  • Skin abscess.
  • Swelling
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting


Did You Know?

Which symptoms your canine shows vary depending upon where the botfly lands in their body. For instance, if the larva has attached itself to the dog’s nasal tissues, it might show symptoms such sneezing or nasal discharge. On the other hand, if the larvae attack the dog’s respiratory attack, it might result in excessive coughing.


Remember! When it comes to treatment – time is of the essence.

This is because the exact treatment will depend on whether the botfly is still living inside your dog or not.

If the warble is still inside, your vet will extract the warble from under the dog’s skin. This is done with extreme care as it is important to extract the whole larvae in one go.

On the other hand, if the warble has already left, the vet will just clean the infected area and prescribe a suitable antibiotic.

Following this treatment, it is important for dog-owners to monitor the affected area for any discharge or swelling.

The most common treatment is likely to include the following steps:

  • Disinfecting the affected area with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Applying a topical cream such as Neosporin to prevent any bacterial infection.
  • In some cases, it may be necessary to prescribe a course of antibiotics after the treatment.  


  • One of the best precautions you can take is to stop your dog from hunting rodents or rabbits.
  • If you happen to live in a place where rodents, rabbits or other small mammals are in the plenty, you might wanna regularly check your dog for any signs of warbles.
  • As botflies usually lay their eggs on grass, it’s extremely important that you keep your dog away from grassy areas.
  • Remember – the botfly threat is seasonal. This means that most cases occur in late summer or early fall – so try to avoid the outdoors during this time.
  • If you notice a lump or swelling underneath your dog’s skin, immediately call the vet for a professional check-up!
  • Any antibiotic course advised by your vet should be properly followed up to avoid a case of delayed healing.
  • If your dog has one or several open wounds, you might wanna be extra careful as these can become entry points for botflies.
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Quick Takeaways

  • Botfly larvae can live inside the body of a dog for 3-6 weeks.
  • For dogs, the most commonly affected areas are the face and neck.
  • In most cases, it is not the parasites themselves that are harmful but the risk of secondary bacteria infection in the holes they leave behind.
  • Even though a number of homemade treatments are available, a professional vet is your best bet if you want your little doggo to become good as new.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!