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How to Treat Horsefly Bites on Horses

Summer heat and sweaty horses provide an ideal climate for horseflies. Although prevention goes a long way toward keeping horseflies away, bites are inevitable. Treating horsefly bites as soon as you notice them helps alleviate pain and suffering. Fortunately, medicated shampoos are easy to find at most any equine supply stores, as are various fly-protection products.

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  1. Treat horsefly bites immediately. Put a properly fitting halter and a lead rope on the horse and lead it to an area where it can be bathed safely.

  2. Rinse the horse with cold water, starting with its legs. Work your way up the horse until it is thoroughly soaked.

  3. Apply medicated shampoo all over the horse's body, following package instructions. After thoroughly scrubbing the shampoo into the horse's coat, rinse off the coat entirely. Be sure to get all of the suds off the horse.

  4. Remove excess water from the horse's coat, using a sweat scraper. Dry off the horse thoroughly, using several towels. If possible, lead the horse to a dry, sunny place to promote even more drying.

  5. Check all over the horse's body for signs of fly bites. Look for swelling, bumps in unusual places and bloody spots. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain.

  6. Mix a solution of one teaspoon of salt with two cups of water. Apply the solution to the fly bites to clean them.

  7. Put the horse in a stall or another safe enclosure if possible. Place a fan near the horse but out of its reach. Turn the fan on so it is blowing on the horse. The fan will keep other flies from eating off of the bites.

  8. Put fly protection on the horse when moving it to a different location. Spray the horse all over with fly spray to discourage other flies from biting. Put a fly mask and a fly sheet on the horse to protect it from other bites.

  9. Tip

    Keep barns and pastures manure free. Remove any sitting water such as puddles. Offer shelter to horses who live outside. Spray horses frequently with high-quality fly spray. Offer night pasturing instead of pasturing during the day. Put protective fly clothing on horses, including sheets and masks. Set traps around the barn and pasture areas.


    Discourage the horse from rubbing or licking the areas that have been bitten. Seek immediate medical care if your horse shows signs of anaemia following a horsefly bite.

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Things You'll Need

  • Properly fitting halter and lead rope
  • Washing area with water source and hose
  • Medicated horse shampoo
  • Sweat scraper
  • Towels
  • Ice pack
  • Salt water
  • Fan
  • Fly protective clothing for the horse (optional)
  • Fly spray

About the Author

Susan Patterson is a health and gardening advocate. She is a Master Gardener, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and a Certified Health Coach with vast experience working with organic gardening and nutrition. Her passions include sustainable living, organic foods and functional fitness. Patterson has been writing and presenting on health and gardening topics for 10 years.

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