8 Common Little Black Bugs On Dogs (Are They Harmful?)

small black bugs on dog

Discovering little black bugs on your dog can be alarming. These tiny black bugs can either be harmless or can pose health risks to your furry friend.

Here are 7 tiny black bugs that you might find on your dog:

  • Fleas: Persistent pests that cause itching and can lead to allergic reactions and anemia in dogs
  • Ticks: Dangerous carriers of diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Lice: Wingless insects that cling to fur, causing itching, irritation, and potential hair loss in infested dogs
  • Flea Beatles: These beetles can occasionally be found in their fur, causing minor irritation
  • Black Ants: Some species may bite or sting, leading to discomfort and potential allergic reactions in dogs
  • Mosquitoes: Mozzies bites are itchy and they can transmit heartworm disease to dogs
  • Kissing Bugs: Known for spreading Chagas disease, their bites can cause allergic reactions

This article helps you identify these black bugs and teaches you how to protect your pup’s well-being.

1. Fleas

dog flea

I’ve yet to meet a dog owner whose dog has never had a flea infestation.

Your dog can have fleas without you realizing it.

They are difficult to spot because they are so tiny.

An adult flea is only about an eighth of an inch long.

But if you do notice tiny blackish and dark brown spots on your dog, those are probably fleas.

A flea can jump up to 80 times its own height!

That is how fleas get onto their host, mainly by jumping off from another host or from the environment and onto your dog.

Fleas are parasitic bugs because they feed off your dog’s blood, just like bed bugs.

Your dog won’t be able to sit still when it has fleas on its body.

A single flea can consume up to 15 times its body weight.

These blood-sucking parasites can lay up to 50 eggs daily. This can lead to hundreds of fleas on your poor dog if left untreated.

Symptoms of a flea infestation include:

  • Excessive scratching and biting
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Anemia
  • Tapeworms from ingesting infected fleas

How Do I Get Rid Of Fleas On My Dog?

Getting rid of fleas on your dog involves several steps.

Flea Treatment Products

Use a vet-recommended flea treatment.

These can include topical applications or oral medications. Always follow the product’s instructions and don’t overdose your dog on flea medication.

Bathing your dog before applying flea medication isn’t a good idea.

Avoid bathing your dog for 48 hours before and after applying flea treatment to ensure effective medication absorption.

This allows the dog’s natural oils to help spread the treatment and gives time for the skin to absorb it.

Use A Flea Comb

After bathing, use a flea comb to remove fleas and flea dirt (flea feces) from your dog’s fur. Dip the comb in soapy water to kill any fleas you remove.

Brush your dog from head to tail to remove as many fleas as possible.

I like to use Dawn dish soap as it is gentle on my dog’s skin.

Dawn dish soap works by effectively breaking the water’s surface tension, causing fleas to sink and drown.

Clean Your Home

Vacuum carpets, furniture, and floors thoroughly and regularly.

You must wash your dog’s bed, as well as any other fabrics your dog frequently comes into contact with, in hot soapy water.

You will need to do this for at least a week or two to ensure that you remove the fleas and flea eggs at home.

2. Ticks

tick feeding on dog
close-up photo of a tick attached to dog skin

Ticks are also another type of bug that is commonly found on dogs.

Unlike really tiny fleas, ticks are bigger and easier to spot.

Ticks don’t jump like fleas but will climb or cling onto your dog

These parasites are dangerous to dogs as they can transmit diseases such as:

  • Lyme Disease: Fever, joint pain, and lethargy, potentially leading to serious health issues
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Can cause fever, rash, and joint pain in dogs, and can be severe if not treated promptly
  • Babesiosis: Causing anemia, fever, and weakness in dogs, often requiring aggressive treatment
  • Hepatozoonosis: Caused by ingesting infected ticks, this disease leads to muscle pain, fever, and weight loss in dogs
  • Anemia: Anemia in dogs leads to weakness, pale gums, and lethargy due to reduced red blood cells
  • Canine Anaplasmosis: Fever, joint pain, lethargy, labored breathing, seizures

Like fleas, ticks can start to breed and lay eggs on your dog if left untreated. This can cause a serious tick infestation very quickly.

They have an oval shape and a reddish-brown color.

Once they have fed on your dog’s blood, the ticks will become engorged.

At this point, their appearance changes to a blackish-greyish-blue

There are more than one species of tick that can infect our dogs.

  • American dog ticks (able to bite humans)
  • Deer tick
  • Lone star tick
  • Brown dog tick

The above ticks can be found in different regions of the United States.

How Do I Get Rid Of Ticks On My Dog?

If you do not remove the tick properly from your dog, it can cause an infection in the bite area.

One of the most popular methods to get rid of these parasites is with topical and oral medications.

Bathing your dog with tick shampoo can work well.

Manually removing ticks is also a good way to get rid of them.

But this method is not efficient if your dog is heavily infested.

You can’t use a flea comb to remove ticks as that can do more harm to your dog.

Use a pair of tweezers or a tick removal tool and gently pull the tick out of your dog’s skin in an upward motion.

When ticks feed on your dog, they will burrow their mouths into your dog’s skin to draw blood

Here’s a video showing the right way of removing a tick.

If you do not remove the tick properly from your dog, it can cause an infection in the bite area.

I wouldn’t use any dish soap on the ticks as that can make them regurgitate toxins back into your dog’s bloodstream.

3. Dog Lice

dog lice

Dog lice are small and flat insects that live in the thick and dense fur of your dog.

They have hooks at the end of their legs which allows them to firmly grip onto your dog’s fur.

There are two types of dog lice.

Trichodectes canis which feeds on skin debris and Linognathus setosus which feeds on blood

Dog lice are transmitted from another dog or contaminated grooming equipment.

The good thing is that dog lice cannot be transmitted to humans.

If you are cool with your dog licking your face, be careful if your dog has pink eye.

Your dog can transmit the pink eye bacteria to you when it licks your face.

Dog lice feed on your dog’s blood as well and can cause symptoms like:

  • Excessive itching
  • Skin inflammation
  • Restlessness
  • Hair loss

The best way to spot dog lice is to part your dog’s fur and take a look at the hair shaft.

Lice are very tiny like fleas but can be seen with the naked eye.

They resemble moving sesame seeds that are very dark brown in color, almost to the point of looking black.

How Do I Get Rid Of Dog Lice?

A dog lice infestation is rather uncommon these days as they tend to attack dogs who are in poor health and living in unhygienic conditions.

The best way to remove lice from your dog is by using a medicated shampoo and getting anti-lice medication from the vet.

A flea comb can also help to remove as many dog lice and their eggs from your dog.

Repeated treatments are required to fully get rid of dog lice from your dog’s fur.

4. Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are agricultural pests that affect plants.

While they are not a common parasite for dogs, they can be found in areas close to gardens or farms.

Flea beetles are around 1/16 to 1/8 inch long, with a distinctive ability to jump like fleas when disturbed.

These tiny black jumping bugs are usually black or brown and have a hard, shiny body surface.

While flea beetles are not known to infest or bite dogs, they have the potential to irritate your dog’s skin or be accidentally ingested.

How Do I Get Rid Of Flea Beatles On My Dog?

Since flea beetles are not typical parasites for dogs, the process is more about removing any beetles on their fur.

Thorough Grooming

Start by thoroughly grooming your dog. Use a fine-toothed comb to brush through your dog’s fur.

This should help dislodge any flea beetles clinging to the fur.

Pay attention to areas where beetles are more likely to hide such as behind the ears and under the tail.


Bathe your dog using a gentle pet shampoo.

This will help wash away any beetles or eggs that might be on your dog’s skin and fur.

5. Tiny Black Ants

black ants moving an egg

Black ants are a common sight and can be found in almost any environment.

I see black ants in my kitchen and garden all the time.

Some species of black ants are more aggressive than others.

  • Black imported fire ants
  • Pavement ants
  • Carpenter ants
  • Acrobat ants

While most black ants are generally harmless, they can pose a threat to your dog when their nest is disturbed.

  • Bites And Stings: While most ant bites are harmless, they can cause discomfort, redness, and swelling in dogs
  • Allergic Reactions: Some dogs may have an allergic reaction to ant bites or stings, which can be more serious
  • Ingestion: While most ants are not toxic, over-ingestion can sometimes lead to an upset tummy

Check out the Schmidt Sting Pain Index to compare how much insect bites and stings hurt.

How Do I Get Rid Of Ants On My Dog?

If your dog has gotten a large number of ants on its fur, the best way to remove them is to give your dog a good shower.

After the bath, come out your dog to remove any remaining ants.

If your dog has been bitten by ants, apply some pet-safe antiseptic cream or lotion that can help with the swelling and discomfort.

6. Kissing Bugs

kissing bugs

Do not let the cute name fool you. You do not want these little black bugs on your dog.

Kissing bugs are typically black or dark brown with orange or red stripes around the edge of their bodies.

Also known as triatomine insects, they tend to bite around the eyes and mouth of their victims while they sleep.

Kissing bugs can be harmful to your dog as they can spread Chagas disease, caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite.

Scientists have found that more than 40% of kissing bugs carry the disease.

Symptoms of Chagas disease in dogs include:

  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea or vomiting

If you live in an area where kissing bugs are prevalent, take your dog to the vet ASAP when you notice the symptoms.

How Do I Get Rid Of Kissing Bugs On My Dog?

Kissing bugs are nocturnal and mostly feed at night. So if possible, try to limit the amount of time your dog spends outside after dark.

Use a good insect repellant on your dog if you do need to be out at night.

7. Mosquitoes


Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. They pose specific health risks to dogs that you should be aware of.

If you live in an area that is prone to mozzie infestations, don’t be surprised to see a couple of these tiny black bugs on your dog.

Dogs are susceptible to mosquito bites, often around less furry areas like the ears and nose.

These bites may lead to intense itching and irritation, causing discomfort and possibly skin infections from scratching.

The primary concern with mosquitoes is their ability to transmit heartworm larvae to dogs.

Heartworm disease is a serious condition that can be fatal for many dogs if left untreated.

Symptoms of heartworm disease include:

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapse

If you suspect that your dog has heartworm, please take it to the vet immediately for a check-up.

How Do I Get Rid Of Mosquitoes On My Dog?

Your dog doesn’t even have to be outdoors to get bitten by mosquitoes, it can happen right at home.

Here are some ways to keep your dog mozzie-free:

  • Use a pet-friendly mosquito repellant
  • Keep windows and doors closed
  • Do not encourage mosquito breeding by leaving stagnant water in your garden

8. Flies

fly on leaf

Flies, particularly certain types like horse flies and stable flies, can be bothersome to dogs.

They often target areas like ears, noses and ears, especially in outdoor or working dogs.

These flies can bite your dog’s skin and feed on the blood, causing wounds and infections.

This can lead to a condition called ‘Fly Strike Dermatitis’ or also known as myiasis.

Symptoms include:

  • Offensive odor
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Frequent head shaking
  • Bleeding wounds

These wounds or compromised skin can attract flies to lay eggs which later then become maggots which can worsen the infection. 

Flies are also attracted to dogs that are dirty or have matted fur. 

Dogs with diarrhea also tend to attract flies to their rear region as fecal residue provides an ideal site for them to deposit their eggs.

The hatching of these eggs leads to a maggot infestation on your dog’s body.

How Do I Get Rid Of Flies And Maggots On My Dog?

The best way to keep flies off your dog is to keep it clean and well-groomed. 

If you have a dog that works outdoors, make sure to give it a thorough wipe-down at the end of the day. 

Ensuring cleanliness around your dog’s private areas is vital to prevent the accumulation of dirt and fecal matter which can attract flies. 

Maggots on your dog need to be removed by a veterinarian. 

The vet will clean the wounds with an antibiotic solution.  Any dead skin and maggots will then be removed from your dog’s body.  needs to be cut away. 

Topical cream and antibiotics will also be given to prevent further infections. 

How Do These Tiny Black Bugs Get On My Dog’s Skin?

Another common form of transmission of ticks and fleas is from other furry friends.

Many of the above little black bugs tend to reside in areas that are dark, damp and have dense vegetation.

When out with your dog, it’s best to not let it run through tall grass and bushes if possible.

8 out of 10 times my dog has weird bugs on his fur when he plays in the grass or bushes.

Although the above bugs are relatively harmless, there are other dangerous bugs such as centipedes and spiders that reside in these areas too.

Another common form of transmission of ticks and fleas is from other furry friends.

Canines are social animals and love playing with other dogs. This constant close contact makes it easy for these bugs to change host.

It is also good practice to visually examine your dog for these parasitic bugs regularly.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Mites?

Most mites on dogs are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

But there is one type of mite that can be seen with the eye even though they are very small.

They are called Cheyletiella and these mites are white in color rather than black.

Two types of surface mites can infest healthy dogs. They are the Demodex mites (demodicosis) and Sarcoptes Mites (scabies mites).

Symptoms of a mite infestation in dogs include:

  • Red scaly skin
  • Hair loss
  • Itching
  • Dandruff

Your dog can get mites from other dogs and from the environment. These mites can give your dog a terrible itch and skin lesions.

As there are different types of mites, the best form of treatment is to take your dog to the vet and have its skin examined.

Once the vet has ascertained the exact type of mite, the essential medication can be administered to your dog.

Mites are less than a millimeter in length and can either be circular or tubular, depending on the type of mites.

They look more like spiders due to having eight legs.

What If I Can’t Identify The Tiny Black Bug?

Unless you are an Entomologist, it might not be possible to identify every tiny black bug that you find on your dog.

If you just notice a few on your dog, just remove them and make sure that there are no bites on your dog.

But if you do notice an infestation, the correct thing to do is to try and capture the bug on your dog and let your vet identify it.

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