Treatment Of Cuterebra Larva Infestation In Cats And Dogs

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 Cuterebra.  Pronounce it CUTE-uh-REE-bruh.

They are anything but cute.

Cuterebra is a bee-like fly which lays her eggs in places where target mammals will come in contact with them. Such locations as the orifices of bird and squirrel nests, burrows and animal paths are favorites. Eggs may be laid on stones or vegetation. The fly’s goal is to get the eggs onto the coat of the host, from which the egg responds to the host’s body heat by hatching to a larval stage. The larvae then enter the mouth or nose during grooming. Less often an open wound on the body might be the entrance point.

Left: 3rd instar larva, Cuterebra spp. Right: 2nd instar larva, Cuterebra spp.

Left: 3rd instar larva, Cuterebra spp. Right: 2nd instar larva, Cuterebra spp.

The larvae then migrate to a subcutaneous (under the skin) spot on the body where they can make a tiny opening through the skin for breathing. The larvae spend about a month in the host, after which they emerge through the skin, fall to the ground and pupate (enter a cocoon stage).

Insect larvae undergo stages called “instars.” Early in the season, such as April and May we expect to see the second instar, which is 5-10 mm. in length and light in color. The third instar is much larger, as big as a child’s thumb, and much darker. They are usually adorned with spines.

So, under what conditions would a veterinarian interact with a Cuterebra larva? Dogs and cats are aberrant hosts, but do sometimes become infected. Wild rabbits and squirrels are the most common victims and can sometimes have a dozen or more Cuterebra cysts at once.

When a cat or kitten is presented to a veterinarian with a Cuterebra (colloquially called a “wolf”) the owner is typically baffled by the condition. The sight of “something” moving inside the wound is quite alarming. I say “cat or kitten” because, while dogs are reported to become infected with Cuterebra, I’ve not seen an affected dog in thirty years of practice.

Treatment starts with light sedation of the cooperative patient or general anesthesia of a cat who resists help. Hair is clipped from the area of the cyst and the entire clipped area is disinfected and prepared for surgery. Operating forceps are used to enlarge the opening sufficiently to allow extraction of the larva without undue compression. Rupture of the larva can lead to release of foreign material that may prevent the wound from healing. In some cases anaphylactic shock may take the patient’s life. The wound is thoroughly irrigated per standard abscess-treatment protocol.

Systemic antibiotics are indicated, and I have successfully used Convenia in Cuterebra victims. Ointments, such as Animax, are useful to irrigate the wound and help control infection topically while a systemic antibiotic works from the inside.

Prevention is mainly focused on keeping one’s cat indoors, instead of nosing around where cats don’t belong.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

88 comments

  1. alice allen says:

    i found a kitten it was near death my wife nursed it back to good health or so we thought her head bobs up n down and her legs wont support her she launcges her self with her rear legs to go any where but she is playfull and has a great appeitite my wife hast hold her so her head wont fall in the food

  2. Tami says:

    my mini schnauzer was recently diagnosed with kennel cough, then graduated to a collapsed lung and in the meantime got several cysts under her skin- i asked about them and the first vet said its probally clogged oil glands – but when her breathing got bad again today, i took her back to my local vet and i asked again about the bumps where he looked at them and extracted 6 different places of larva- Cutebra . He is contacting a specialist as he hasnt seen it on may animals here in utah- and how to deal with it. My pup still has a lung partially collapsed, could the larva be infested in the lung for air rather than coming to the surface? she is only 1 year 6 months old- and been to the vet for the cough, lung now larva……… shes finished her antibiotics, steriods, xrays- and now this larva thing– im about to loose my marbles.. i just want my furbaby better–

    • Cuterebra wouldn’t have migrated to the lung for air, but the larvae are known to migrate to aberrant locations. I’ve heard of them being in nasal passages and the central nervous system. You may need a specialist for that lung. Does she have a chest tube? Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  3. Jill Daugherty says:

    A week and a half ago, my Lhasapoo had a botfly larvae removed from her back. Four days later, I found another behind her ear. Between the two visits to the vet, I did a lot of research online and had some questions for the vet. Unfortunately, I knew more than she did at that point, and she pulled out her phone to look up the information I was giving her. I’m trying to weed through the information I found online and would love some help, either in the form of answers you might be able to provide, or a recommendation to someone who might know more. First, I have seen some conflicting information on how the warble forms. Some sites say the eggs get into an opening, traveling under the skin, then bore out. Other sites say the eggs live in the fur, then bore down. Second, I saw one site that said that once a dog is infected, the larvae can live inside of them for 2 – 3 years. Is this accurate? I’m also concerned that no other dog in our neighborhood has had a problem with botflies. I live in a condo complex with a lot of dogs, but mine seems to be the only one who has been infected. I’m wondering if there is something that either of us are doing that might make her more vulnerable. She walks in the same areas as the other dogs, and plays in the same grass, but none of them have had a problem. She does lick herself quite a bit – especially her paws, so if the larvae do form by entering the mouth, she might be more likely to infect herself by licking. Finally, in order to help me figure out how (or where) she became infected, I am wondering how long it takes from the time they are infected to the time a warble forms. We live in Denver, in case different areas have different types of botflies. Thank you!

    • Step One is to get one or more of the extracted larvae to a veterinary parasitologist for identification. Each larval species has a different life cycle. Treatment and prevention can then be tailored specifically. Your veterinarian can submit the specimen(s) for you. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  4. Chethana says:

    Near my home a street dog is affected by cuterebra disease so can u suggest me any home remedy or any tablet

  5. Ashli says:

    My family was just given a 9 week old kitten from a family friend and today I found that she had 2 Cuterebra one on her neck area and the other on her left cheek. I was very successful in removing the one from her neck however when i was removing the one from her cheek she moved and it slipped from my tweezers slightly and tore but never went fully back into the hole. I got my grip on it again and removed the whole thing put rubbing alcohol on the hole and she seemed fine. I went back to check on her about a half hour later and the area under her chin is swollen. We do not have the money to take her to the vet and I can not lose her or my babies will be very heartbroken they are already very attached to her even though we have only had her a week. Is there anything I can do for her at home?

    • Having no way to examine your kitten, there is no way for me to know exactly what is causing the swelling. Perhaps you can scrape up the money to have her examined, or borrow from a friend or family member. Meanwhile, it probably cannot hurt to hot pack the area. You can click here to read how to hot pack the swollen area. Please write back and let us know how she does. Thank you for reading http://www.MyPetsDoctor.com.

      • Ashli says:

        Our kitten sissy is doing much better her swelling is completely gone today and one whole is fully healed and the other has stopped bubbling when I put peroxide on it. It has also stopped having liquid come out of it. She has started coming out and playing quite a bit today. Thank you for your help.

      • Paige says:

        My kitten has a botflie on it’s neck and i was wondering how much it would cost to get it removed

  6. Zena says:

    My daughter found a kitten out in the country and brought it home to me yesterday as a Mothers Day present. There was what she thought was a puncture mark from perhaps another kitten. It turned out to be a cuterebra. I was able to remove the larva without rupturing it, irrigated the hole it came out of. There is no puss present but a bit of a knot where the thing had been under the skin. Is amoxicillin a viable treatment for aftercare as I am not able to get her to the vet?

  7. debbie says:

    we noticed a red lump on my dog’s skin and we left it for some time to go down but we noticed it became really disgusting and we started pulling out larvae from the lumps. please I want to know how I can treat her, I’m really worried about her. she is as crazy as usual and she eats well too but I don’t want those disgusting things on her skin. please what can I do about it

  8. Christie says:

    I noticed a lump on my cat’s neck about a month ago. It’s not painful, and after researching on the internet possible infections, I came to suspect that is was either a benign cyst or possibly a botfly infection. The latter would make sense, since around last fall, I had small red bot flies flying around my apartment (I didn’t know they were or that they could cause botfly infections in animals. I’m also not sure how I got a minor botfly infestation, except that I had had, this past summer, two outdoor dogs in my home and the former dog had given me a minor mite problem, as well. I had also used my cat’s brush to brush his coat, unfortunately.)
    I noticed after a couple weeks after discovering the small lump on my cat’s neck, that some black substance was being excreted from a small hole that I was not there before. I took tweezer and gently pulled out the black substance and it didn’t appear in any way to be a living creature, more like some kind of black substance. More would reappear after several days and I would keep removing it.
    I never once seen any type of parasite moving around or poking its head out of the hole that is on the lump. Every time I would be examining the lump, my cat never displayed any signs of discomfort, concerning pain.
    Today, I noticed some more of the black substance coming out of the hole on the lump and after I removed it, I gently squeezed the area around the lump and I felt kind of a bit of a pop and pus came out of the lump. My cat still didn’t seem to be in any pain and I had made sure all the pus was squeezed out and then I had washed the wound with soap and water.
    I can’t afford to take her to the vet, however there is a foundation that will help me financially to be able to take her. I will be calling them tomorrow morning.
    Can you please let me know if this sounds serious? I am very worried, as I have read that some people had lost their pets due to botfly infection.

    • Black stuff, eh? This is going to take some hands-on, eyes-on examination to know what’s going on. However, it doesn’t sound like anything that’s going to go from starting a month ago to fatal before Monday, most likely. Do, please, let us know what your veterinarian finds out. I’ll be on the edge of my seat. We’ll say a prayer for a good outcome. Thanks for reading http://www.MyPetsDoctor.com.

      • Christie says:

        Yes, black stuff being excreted out of the hole on the lump. I was suspecting that it was perhaps the feces from the possible parasite.
        Other than that, my cat, Halo, hasn’t shown any other signs or symptoms of abnormal behavior.
        Thank you for your website and for your response, I really appreciate it! Thank you for the prayer, it means a lot, and yes, I will let you know what the vet finds out.

  9. Shawna says:

    I have three beagle hound mixes all with multiple lumps that have appeared in last several months. We have found rat with larvee (they came out as it died), we also have squirrels. My dogs have been to vet and diagnosis is fatty tumors. They are taking Ivermectin for heart worms. Could it be possible for larvee to grow and die between monthly dosage? Would the larvee just disintegrate? Or have they just grown alot of new tumors?

  10. Sarah says:

    Im not sure if I am in the right category sense I don’t know the issue much but I have a cat that is about 9 years old. I found a lump under her chin and when I went to look at it found 3 smaller holes and one larger one all open, the lump by the large one. i got 2 little white things from it not sure if puss or worse case larva, it wasn’t moving to what i could see. there is another little white thing under the inner skin of the larger hole. I am really worried what it could be…

  11. Joshua says:

    Hi
    I have a cat which is 6 years old he has got cuterbra its been 3 days something coming out and breathing and goes inside there are more than 15 small worms like.
    What will happen if no treatment is taken? Will it cure automatically? Will it cause any infection to human? Is there any home treatment?

    Waiting for your reply
    Thank you

    • The life cycle of the fly is such that it will eventually mature and fly away. The purpose of treatment at a doctor’s office is to minimize pain and prevent/treat infection. You could be infected only in the same way your kitty was. Thanks for reading MyPetsDoctor.com.

  12. Angela says:

    I rescued 2 kittens that had warbles with cuterebra larvae. I removed the parasite myself. There was a 3rd kitten who had no signs of a warble. However the day after i removed the parasite from the other kittens the 3rd kitten had developed a unsteady gait and he was falling over. I immediately suspected he to had a cuterebra. He also had sneezing without signs of URI days before. I immediately rushed him to my vet that disagreed with my diagnosis and refus8es to give the ivermectin until 24 hrs later when i presented him with the literature. He gave thw meds but still doesnt believe the kitten had this. This happened a month ago. The kitten is now home but he is not right. He cant walk without falling over. He did circle to the left but that has stopped. He eats on his own but all he does is sleep. He has come somewhat aggressive which seems to be from fear..i took him to a neurologists who says its central vestibular syndrome.he recently start8es playing but not for long because he is so tired. The vet wanted me to euthanize him but im still hopeful he will improve. My question is what is the likely hood this is cuterebra and can he recover? It seems every 2 days he improves slightly. I just dont know what to do at this point and if has a chance of getting better

    • That’s a tough situation, Angela. As you have probably surmised, the neurologist who examined him has the best chance of giving you an accurate prognosis. Still, what do you have to lose by giving him a chance, as long as he is not incontinent and continues to eat. Thanks for reading MyPetsDoctor.com.

  13. Ursula says:

    My 16 month old morkie was infected with one of these Cuterebra larvae, we have many chipmunks and red squirrels on our property. He loves to hunt for them and this is most likely where he picked it up. He was itching and licking the site where the larvae was and it was so inflamed and red he wouldn’t let us touch him or even move his leg… Took him to the vet and had it removed from his groin area. I had no idea what cuterebra was before yesterday. But I forgot to ask the vet if there could be more larvae in his body and could they mature at different times? Just wondering if we were out of the clear or should I worry that there are more and they could be in other spots that we can’t see.

    • Certainly, there could be more larvae that will grow and emerge later. While I’ve seen multiple Cuterebra in wild animals, I can’t recall ever seeing a patient with multiple lesions. Or, even a recurrence in the same pet, for that matter, in 36 years of practice. Click on this link to read about how to examine your pet yourself, and do so at least weekly. If any new lesions appear, you’ll be on top of them quickly.

      • Anna says:

        My labradoodle puppy had a cuterebra lump removed last month, and now has another simliar lump in the same site on her belly! It seems like the infestation has come back — how is this possible?

        • While it sounds odd, and certainly unusual in my experience, it’s certainly understandable. Whatever made the first fly like that location could easily make another fly like the same, or nearby, spot. Thanks for reading, Dr. Randolph

        • Tyler D. says:

          Hi Anna, what was the diagnosis in this situation? We are experiencing a similar problem as a lump has form where the previous larvae was.

  14. karen says:

    my boyfriend just took one out my kitten which is almost 6 months old she isn’t aloud out doors could of she had this awhile and now that it’s out what should i give her now worried about my big cat he goes in and out i checked him but no lumps.

  15. NikkiB says:

    Hi! Would one of these parasites cause prolonged sneezing fits with sometimes thick mucus/blood? Our cat has something going on in his sinuses we can’t figure out. It’s been getting progressively worse over the past year.

  16. Ann says:

    Hi,

    My cat is an outdoor cat and now in the summer time he likes to sleep in the neighbors flowerbed, where it’s a bit cooler (I live in Madison, WI).

    A week ago (or more) he started to sneeze, just here and there and I figured that he is probably allergic to something (maybe pollen).

    Thursday-Friday: He then started to get a runny nose (this might have started earlier but this is when I noticed it). The day after he would get these “attacks” as if he couldn’t breathe, and by this point he wasn’t really sneezing anymore, but he did have a runny nose.

    Saturday: he did eat, but not as much as he normally does. Well he usually eats all his food at once, but now he left most of the food and ate a little bit from it throughout the day (but would never finish the breakfast).

    Saturday-Sunday: He then started gagging, as if he wanted to throw up, but he never threw up. He would do this several times during the day.

    Sunday: Again didn’t eat all his food and had his breathing attacks and gagging attacks. In the evening I gave him his dinner, wet food, he didn’t finish it all. After about 10 minutes he started gagging, this time actually throwing up. I went over to him and saw a larvae in the puke, and at that point I decided I really do need to see a vet. (I had been debating if he needed to or not, because he kept seeming better, then worse, and better so I wasn’t sure how bad it was).

    I looked through the internet and figured out that this is most likely a cuterebra, but how did he ingest it. I figure that maybe it went through the nose..?

    He continued gagging afterwards, and Monday his appetite was still low, breathing attacks and gagging.

    I called a vet early Monday morning and got an appointment in the afternoon, and took him in. She looked at the picture of the larvae (I didn’t save the larvae but documented it) and confirmed that this was indeed a cuterebra. She said he’s lucky to be alive because she thought he might have managed to cough it up from the lungs!?? I said my theory was that maybe it came in through the nose? But she said that is really rare (but shouldn’t the other route also be very rare?). This larvae was probably a 2nd stage larvae, because it was fairly small. Also he (the cat) didn’t have any lumps or anything on his neck or body, as far as she could tell, and me too. She gave me antibiotics (Clavamox 125mg) that I should give him twice a day, and told me to get back if he wasn’t better in about 5 days.

    Now my question, shouldn’t she look through his nose or throat maybe to confirm that there aren’t anything else irritating him, another larvae (I know they usually are single events but still), grass anything. This since he is still gagging and has his breathing attacks. I am worried that there might be something else stuck there. Obviously I will take him back on Friday if this still persist, but It seems like she could have confirmed nothing else is bothering him? It seemed to her that it is extremely rare that cats (or dogs) throw up cuterebra, is it? And how do they get inside, could the larvae have migrated in through the nostril (Explaining why just one of the nostrils seem to be plugged up) or is the runny nose just a side effect of the cuterebra itself. My vet said that it is really common to see these signs of common upper respiratory symptoms in cats that has or have had cuterebra, as if they leave some type of toxin.

    My other thought is that maybe this cuterebra was just a rare coincidence, that something else is actually wrong with him? I guess only time will tell.

    Now I am scared to death and don’t want to let my cats out at all, even though they will be very miserable inside. Maybe I will start with supervised outside visits.

    Thanks for a great website.

    • I’m no parasitologist, but I’m reasonably certain a Cuterebra wouldn’t survive in the gastrointestinal tract; rather, I believe it would be digested. If it took an aberrant path it could have ended up in the lungs. Then, again, it might not be a Cuterebra at all. You could ask your veterinarian to ask her parasitology professor for his/her opinion. You could email the picture to her and she could forward it to her alma mater. It wouldn’t hurt to perform a stool test for lungworms, such as Capillaria. And, keep in mind, what’s going on in his nose could be related or unrelated. As for looking inside the nose, it’s not as easy in dogs and cats as people. Structurally, there is tissue in the way that people don’t have. It never hurts to look, though. I found a tiny portion of a blade of grass sticking out of a patient presented for nosebleed a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t looked. Or, if it had been a little further in.

  17. Mjones1989 says:

    I took my cat to our vet a week ago because his right eye was swollen. We thought it was a scratch that was inflamed from playing too rough with the other cats and the vet thought the same. Went home with antibiotics and an ointment to prevent infection. Now a week later, the swelling has not gone down and the wound opened up last night, revealing a pinpoint hole surrounded by a yellowish-tannish area. This now appears to be a wolf worm. We are getting him in to see a different vet as soon as possible, but I have a few questions until then.. Is this something that the vet should have caught when I first brought him out, or is it common to misdiagnose until the breathing hole is visible? Where this is located on his eyelid, should we expect/ prepare for damage from it being in there for at least a week already and so close to his brain? I’m just very worried for my cat and am hoping for some reassurance that he’ll be fine once we get it removed since we caught it somewhat early (at least not 30 days later when it comes out on its own) and are being as proactive as possible. Thank you in advance for any input.

    • Doctors are frequently criticized for failing to find fault with our peers, but, in this case, I think your veterinarian deserves a pass. Not only a pass, but a second visit with your kitty. YOU thought it was an injury, HE/SHE thought it was an injury and it was treated symptomatically. It’s probably what I would have done in the same situation, although, I must add, I haven’t seen the patient and can’t comment in exact terms. Just this week I was reminded of a case from years ago. Monday, one of our regular clients called, frantic that she came home from work, blood was everywhere, and more was coming from her dog’s nose. We instructed her to come straight over to the clinic, whereupon careful examination I found the tiny trailing edge of a three-inch-long blade of grass, administering tiny “paper cuts” to the inside of the patient’s nose. With forceps I was able to grasp the grass and remove it. A phone conversation a few days later confirmed that nothing else was going on and the little dog was now fine. Contrast that to the previous case, in which a kitty presented with recurrent sneezing. After careful and thorough examination, I determined the cat appeared to be suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection. I administered antibiotics. A few days later the owner called to let me know the cat sneezed out a blade of grass, which, days earlier, had not been visible, even with my careful and thorough examination. The client was understanding, continued the antibiotic so that the “paper cuts” inside the nose would not become infected, and everything turned out fine. Proper removal of the Cuterebra larva, and your kitty should also recover uneventfully. While I’ve never diagnosed a brain migration of a Cuterebra larva, and don’t claim to be an expert, I believe most of them enter the nasal passages to enter the brain, when that occurs. Your kitty’s larva is visible from the outside, and removal should be curative. I always treat these as abscesses after removal, so the medications you already have should be curative, barring complications. Please write back and let us know how it goes.

  18. jojo says:

    First off I have 24 cats 10 grown 14 kittens under 4months old. My grown cats like to hunt pack rats and bring to kittens all while teaching them to hunt.We live in country so I don’t mind helps keeping rats down but I’m concerned for kittens and cats and myself with hubby.we recently found a stage3 larvae on a huge rat cats had they been brining rats to kittens all month.we just noticed the worm a day ago are they at risk if ate rats with worm and what’s the health risk for my husband and I? Help scared

    • The rat is the intermediate host, and the larva stage of the ultimate fly is the maggot under the rat’s skin. The larva is much less interested in you than you are in it. He cannot complete his life cycle by infecting a human. You are safe. At least from that. Now, Toxoplasmosis from the rats, that’s a different matter… Thank you for reading MyPetsDoctor.com, Dr. Randolph.

      • courtney says:

        I just had to put my Cairn to sleep. What we thought may have been Lyme disease turned out to be a bot fly larvae that had entered through her eye and burrowed into her brain. She had massive seizures and brain damage. The vet said she had never seen this before. I dearly wish she never had to. Still reeling.

  19. Brookbrook2121 says:

    Can someone help me please? My cat came in and I was petting her and looked at her throat and at first I thought it was a tick so I got my grandmother but when she moved the fur it was like a oval bubble of blood hanging on to her neck and she barley touched it and it just exploded and then right under it was a like hole scab and has a core. It hurts her when we touch it so we don’t know what to do… She scratches it to death and I don’t know if it is a wolf worm or a tick head stuck or what????? Help plz

  20. Uloma says:

    Dear Doctor,
    This article, questions and responses have been very enlightening. Unfortunately, I got this information late.

    My dog has had this lump under her left eye for a while and it often twitch. We called the vet but he kept saying it was nothing and gave her series of injections, which didn’t help. I asked my parents to change the vet but they said he was good.

    Now, my dog has got this deep, irritating hole where this lump used to be. They called the same vet, who just gave them some ointment. Again, it’s not working but they refuse to call another vet.

    Is there something I can do to help heal this wound, considering that the vet is not helping and my parents refuse to use another?

    Please treat as urgent. Thank you

    • I would say you are between the proverbial rock and hard place. You can’t get help from the veterinarian who is treating your pet now and you can’t get a new veterinarian. There is no way for me to advise you because I can’t examine your pet, and I would have to examine him in order to know how to treat him. My best advice would be to stay persistent until you can convince your family to give a new veterinarian a chance to heal the lesion. We wish you all the best of luck and request that you send us a note when you find a new doctor and find out what the actual problem is. Dr. Randolph.

  21. Sandra says:

    My (indoor) Miniature American Eskimo dog was hospitalized on Saturday with 105.6 fever, no appetite, hanging head and squinting eyes, uncoordinated at times walking, very weak. Many tests are being run illuminating one thing at a time. She was getting worse and liver Inflamed. Tons of protein in urine. Her face and under chin area swelled up with fluid. Yesterday (Tuesday) morning we went in for visitation. I found just under the ear a dime sized scab hooked to the hair and skin. Vet shaved it and removed a rice sized Cuterebra. Could this be the reason for her sudden need for veterinarian care? We already see her face going back to normal and her spirits are up. She ate for the first time last night, Tuesday. Before that had not eaten since Friday night. I know it could all be due to the antibiotic treatment and plasma they are giving her but have you ever heard of one of these Cuterebra causing issues like I’m dealing with. Another blood test will be done today (Wednesday) to see if things are getting better.

    • Sandra, the answer is yes, and no. The Cuterebra you saw probably did not cause the problem, but migration of Cuterebra in the viscera is well-documented and common. A colleague here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast documented migration in the brain of a dog patient of hers. Your dog certainly could fall in that category, and may have Cuterebra migrating in multiple sites. Diagnosis and treatment of such a condition are challenging. Of course, there are several hundred other conditions that could cause her clinical signs, also. To better understand the laboratory tests that are being performed, click this link.

  22. Judy says:

    My daughter’s dog recently had one of these removed from her side. The larva had died and was threatening to become abcessed. The poor dog had to be shaved and put out in order for the vet to remove the good-sized cutereba. Last week when my daughter returned to have the dog checked up the vet said she had removed 3 others in a week, 2 in kittens and one in a puppy. This took place in the Springfield, MA area. So gross and disturbing!!

    • Yep, Judy, this is the time of year we will see more and more Cuterebra larvae. Our back porch has tons of squirrels who come to our feeders, and we will be seeing lots of Cuterebra on them, too. Thanks for writing.

  23. Chuck says:

    Dr. Randolph, I saw you mentioned haven’t seen a wolf (Cuterebra) larvae in a dog in 30 years. Well I wish I had a picture. I have a Morkie and he had a good sized larva in his neck. My veterinarian was able to remove it. There was a pencil-sized hole in which the larva could be seen moving around. Very gross indeed. I live in the Atlanta area and in a fairly heavily wooded yard. I’m thinking lots of squirrels and chipmunks around may have been the reason. Regards, Chuck.

  24. Brandy says:

    Hello, while I was petting my cat today I noticed a tiny, slimy, white worm-like creature near and around its butt. I have noooo idea what it is and they got on my arm and were moving!!! Do you have any idea what these little things may be?? My cats are indoor cats and I have never seen anything like this before!!!

  25. Pammy says:

    Dear Dr. Randolph, I got your reply. Just wondering if you could tell me what kind of tests are run to see if pets have cancer. I have not seen any more bites on him at all. But I will continue to look for them. I am so scared if he has Cuterebra in his body. Pleae let me about the test for cancer. Thank you Verry much. Pammy

    • Pammy, the last time I wrote I suggested that you take your dog to see his veterinarian. There is no one test for cancer. Tests are different according to the type of cancer suspected. What if you are worrying for nothing? Your veterinarian can tell you if your dog has cancer. Your veterinarian can tell you if your dog has Cuterebra. First thing Friday morning, call your pet’s doctor and make an appointment so you can know where he stands. Again, please let us know what you the doctor says, Dr. Randolph.

  26. Pammy says:

    I have a small dog who has little scabs on him all summer. One at a time that is. When I would pick off the scab and squeeze it blood squirted out. No pus. Also a tiny hole would be left behind. He has had a least six on him. But no infection. I’m scared this might be Cuterebra. Please help. Thank U,Pammy

    • Pammy, it’s certainly possible that these could be Cuterebra lesions, but they could also be infection, cancer. Since it could be serious, and you’re scared, let’s go ahead and make an appointment with your veterinarian and find out exactly what they are so he can be on the road to recovery. Keep us posted so we, too, can know what’s going on. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  27. A Webster says:

    My farm dogs are always catching moles and eating many of them. My youngest Lab is about 14 months old. I observed her coughing, like she was trying to throw up. I put her outside. I found 2 large pink larvae on the floor and threw them out, not realizing that was what was making her cough. A few days later my husband found a dried up one in the dog bed. I showed it to my veterinarian and he confirmed that it was a Cuterebra. I worm my dogs regularly, and was told they should be wormed for tapeworms. Will this get rid of any more larvae that she may have ingested? Thank you.

  28. Peg says:

    Dr. Randolph, my puppy recently had a Cuterebra larvae removed. I was wondering, would it have been safer for the fly to develop and self-extract itself for a 9 week old pup vs. surgery. Also, what would the surgical procedure typically cost? Any comments would be helpful. As a new pet owner I just want to do the correct thing by my pup in the future.

  29. tcacciato says:

    A family member’s dog just had this and they want to bring the dog with them for a visit. I am 8 weeks pregnant, is this safe for me and my unborn baby?

  30. ourayvet says:

    Doc, great article. Thanks for putting it out there. I email the link to my clients. I dont know where you live but in my practice of almost 15 years in Colorado we see them in dogs every year. I’ve seen a couple of dogs with them already this season.

  31. Chanda says:

    Today while petting my Pug I noticed scabby bits stuck to his fur and when I pushed aside his fur I found an area of pus. I was unsure what to do with it so I took him to my mother in the next room. She squeezed the sides and a long stream of pus came out and there was a hole left. He did not exhibit any signs of pain during this and sat as if unaware of what we were doing. My mother noticed a lump a while before but now it is a hole. I am extremely worried now that I think it is a Cuterebra hole. Is it a bad thing that my mother squuezed the pus out? Does it sound like this is what it could be?

    • Chanda, a couple of possibilities come immediately to mind. Most likely your Pug has a sebaceous cyst that has ruptured and leaked its contents out onto the skin and hair (helped along by your mother). Read about sebaceous cysts here. The other possibility is that your dog may have a Hot Spot. Read about Hot Spots here. If he has a sebaceous cyst it won’t need medical attention unless it fails to heal, which is a common complication when they become open (or are opened by our mothers). Hot Spots, on the other hand, require a doctor’s care. Your veterinarian will know what to do. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  32. Catherine Traversone says:

    I am a veterinarian’s assistant. We recently lost a cat who had Cuterebra. It went up the nasal passage to the brain. I’ve never seen a cat howl and act like that. It was horrible. The cat died before we actually knew what the diagnosis was. Since they went up the nasal passage there was no hole to give us a clue. We thought it was some neurological problem and referred to a specialist in a 24 hour hospital. They were the ones who diagnosed it. Evidently they see more of this than we do. This is another reason pets should be kept indoors!!!!!

  33. Heidi says:

    Our cat has some hard object just below knee joint. We tried to clip the hair around it to see if we could loosen it. It does not seem to be attached to the main part of her leg, but it may be underneath the skin. Although we had her front legs restrained in order to examine the area, she did not seem to be in pain, but remained calm. We also noticed a small hole next to this. It is not red or inflamed. Could this be a Cuterebra?

  34. valerie says:

    I noticed little white worm-looking things on the table where my cat was lying. He is an indoor cat. What could it be? And is it harmful if not treated? I am concerned about this because I have children in the home.

  35. Mandy Allen says:

    I believe my cat has a Cuterebra. Does anyone know how much the veterinarian will charge to have it removed?

  36. Ray Willard says:

    A Cuterebra infested our Yorkie. We thought it was a bite mark from a fight with another dog. Seven days after the opening was noticed, which we thought was a bite mark we took the dog to a groomer for a haircut and she noticed the worm in the dog’s hair. After checking the Internet we determined what was happening. It was lucky timing that the grooming took place at the time the worm came out of the dog’s body and was identified. The bathing prior to the haircut cleaned the wound area–things look good. I will take the dog to a veterinarian for further checking to see if more infestations are present.

  37. Mark Youhana says:

    Before anything, I would like to thank you for your comment and interest to help me. Really I am very happy that you responded. The second point that I should make it clear is I don’t trust veterinarians in Egypt, not based on judgement but from experience, so going to a veterinarian is not on my priorities list. Now let me describe my kitty situation, I noticed a black thing out from her head like this thing wanted to breathe.
    Then I searched the web until I have found that it’s a larva and I shouldn’t interact with it or I will make my kitty have an allergy. Till this moment the cat is fine and it’s nearly 7 months since the larva was noticed.
    But I’m still worried and all I can do is to ensure that the spot is clean and no infection. Again I appreciate and respect your kindness. Thanks and I will let you know of any news appetite.

    • Mark, this is the reply from Tim Lockley, PhD entomologist: Am I to assume that the individual is currently in Egypt? If so, his cat may have any one of a number of fly larvae (screwworms, Tumbu fly, et cetera) living just below her skin. If it is a maggot, it will eventually emerge to pupate. Once it’s outside of the cat’s body, the wound can be treated with antibiotics and stitched closed if necessary. Another possibility is a subcutaneous roundworm. They extrude portions of themselves to lay eggs. Unfortunately, there are just too many possibilities from that area of the world for me to hazard a better guess. I seriously doubt that any obligate myiasis is involved here. Hope this helps. Tim. Dr. Randolph again: In case we are dealing with something not larval, like a roundworm, the thing is going to be there a long, long time. Keeping the wound clean, at least daily, will be crucial. Is there any possibility that you could travel to a nearby country with better veterinary care? In the worldwide information scene many of our professional journal articles come from Israel, so I would have confidence in visiting a doctor there, especially if you could obtain a referral to a veterinary teaching hospital. Please keep us informed. I know all of our readers will be on the edge of their seats to know what happens next!

    • Varn-emily90458 says:

      How do you clean the area after it comes out? How long should it take to develop?

      • Hi, Emily. My biggest worry after removing the larva is infection. Keep the area clean with hydrogen peroxide, but if pus develops or your pet has a fever or loses its appetite, be sure to see your local veterinarian right away. It is impossible to say how long a given larva will develop because we don’t know when it first arrived. However, you can read the article again for an explanation of the life cycle. We know that once the larva arrives under the skin it resides there about a month before leaving.

  38. Mark Youhana says:

    Thanks for that useful information. I really need some help. I am from Egypt and veterinarians are not that good, so I am afraid to take my infected cat to any of them. What if I left the cat to expel that foreign body out, is there any danger?? PLZ respond ASAP

    • Mark, this is a tricky question. If biology follows its natural course the larva will pupate, then hatch into a fly. If all of those steps go “normally,” AND your kitty doesn’t become infected, she’ll be fine. However, if the larva isn’t able to escape, if you’ve misdiagnosed and there isn’t a Cuterebra larva in there (and, instead, it’s tumor or bite wound), then you could have some serious difficulties. It’s a tough spot to be in: going to the doctor might be worse than NOT going to the doctor. I’d have to guess that your best course of action would be to watch it a few days and if her activity level and appetite get worse then you’d have no choice but to take her to see the doctor. Please let us know what happens, we’re on the edge of our seats! Best wishes,
      Dr. Randolph

  39. Nell says:

    Good for me, I keep my cat indoors. We don’t have fleas or ticks either.

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