guide on how to keep flies away from dog food

How to Keep Flies Away From Dog Food?

Flies are pesky little creatures that can invade our homes. We often picture flies hanging around dog poo, but they can be attracted to dog food as well. This is especially true if you keep your dog’s food bowl outside. Your fly problem may be dormant in the wintertime but the summertime is when they come out to play. Don’t retreat just yet, because we have a few tricks up our sleeve that can help keep flies away from dog food.

It’s All About Prevention

Dog food bowl beside a sleeping dog
Image by mattycoulton from Pixabay

Before we fix the problem about how to keep flies away from dog food, we need to first figure out why they like to congregate around your pet’s food and how to prevent it from happening. Flies are attracted to food- period. It doesn’t matter if it’s fresh or rotten food, these pests have a vested interest in edibles.

Knowing this, the best way to get rid of flies around your dog’s food is through portion control. The longer you leave food out and give access to flies, the more they’ll spread the good news through word-of-mouth (or perhaps buzz-of-mouth) and more of their comrades will come and join the party.

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For those who practice free feeding, try moving the food bowl to an indoor area where flies have less access or feed your dog set meals throughout the day as a way to keep flies away. If the dog food bowls must remain outdoors, then definitely make sure the water and food bowls are placed far enough apart so there won’t be any contamination. Once dog food gets wet and moist, then all bets are off.

Sometimes the flies aren’t even attracted to the food in the first place, and it’s just a bonus side effect of coming to rummage through dog poop. The dog poop is what initially attracts them, so make sure you clean it up right away to get rid of the flies before they make a u-turn and attack the food as well.

Aside from dog poop, flies are also attracted to garbage and anything else gross and dirty. If your yard hasn’t been cleaned in a while, then you will need to take extraordinary measures and do an overhaul cleanup to keep the flies away. If the problem isn’t quite as serious, then we simply remind you to not leave garbage lying around.

If the fly problem is bad enough, they could have already set up breeding spots in your yard to populate. In this case, you will have to go in and remove all these areas to keep flies away permanently. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can enlist the help of a pest control company or even a friend with more knowledge.

In order to limit the amount of work you have to do to eradicate flies and other insects, we also suggest doubling down on screens and securing all the crevices and crack in your doors, windows, and walls to prevent them from getting inside the house. Trust us, if there is an opening, the fly will find it. Be especially wary during the elimination process when you enter and leave your house. Do so quickly so there isn’t any time for the fly to follow you in.

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How to Keep Flies Away from Dog Food

water can be used to keep flies away
Image by Harald_Landsrath from Pixabay

Now that we know how to prevent flies from becoming live-in guests, we can get into the nitty-gritty on how to remove them and keep them away from dog food.

Use Water

Flies, like mosquitoes, hate water. It’s almost as if they have an in-built mechanism that detects liquid so they can successfully avoid it. We can use this natural characteristic to our advantage to keep them away from dog food.

You can utilize objects you have around the house to create a fly repellent. Take a zip-lock bag, or any other clear bag with a proper closure, and fill it with water. Use a large enough size so light reflection will be obvious to the flies. We would suggest medium or large for the best results.

You don’t want spillage, so only fill the bag half full. Since we will be hanging the bag around your dog’s food, you also don’t want too much tension on the string.

Once you have filled the bag and secured the water insight tightly, make sure to remove all the oxygen from inside the packaging. Tie a string around the bag and hang it close to your dog’s feeding area when you’re done.

This is a natural and efficient way to confuse the flies and keep them away. Since it’s just bags of water, you can hang as many as you want wherever necessary to keep the insects at bay. The water will refract the light and confuse the flies.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oil diffuser
Image by Eva Elijas from Pexels

Another repellent that flies find repulsive is lavender oil. You may love the smell of these little purple flora around your house but flies do not share your sentiment. Using this method is like killing two birds with one stone. You get to enjoy a pretty fragrance and make sure the flies steer clear of your home.

To do this, take an absorbent cloth or sponge and dip it into undiluted lavender oil. Keep it there for about a day and then squeeze out the excess oil and place the sponge or towel into a tin can or jar with a lid. Close it tightly and let it sit for at least a day. After the waiting period, you can remove the lid and place the jar or can near your dog’s food.

Keep an eye on the sponge because you will need to replace it or add more essential oils as it loses its potency over time.

If you don’t like the smell of lavender, there are other essential oils that you can try including citronella, because flies don’t like citrusy smells, peppermint or eucalyptus to name a few. Make sure you purchase undiluted forms of essential oils for maximum strength.

Use Lemongrass Oil in a Spray Bottle

use lemongrass oil in a spray bottle
Photo by Charlotte Harrison on Unsplash

Use lemongrass oil in a spray bottle, which is not only a fly deterrent but can also be used as a weapon if a fly attacks. Take around 10 drops of concentrated lemongrass oil and mix it with warm water in a spray bottle. For preventative measures, just spray around your dogs’ feeding area. You can also keep small bottles of this handy while you’re cleaning to aim at any incoming flies.

Grow Some Herbs

grow some herbs to keep flies away
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Herbs are excellent garnishes and can be used to enhance the taste of your dishes. Growing your own herbs can save you money, ensure the plants are natural and keep flies away!

We know that flies do not like lavender, but what other herb plants can keep flies away from your location? Bay leaf plants, mint, basil, and wormwood are all excellent fly repellents to name a few. Since these herbs are quite small, you can pick more than one type to place around your home and the area where your dog eats.

Use Refreshing Cucumbers

This juicy veggie-fruit is so refreshing during the summertime when flies are out in full force, and they also have rejuvenating properties for your skin. Grab some cucumbers and cut them into slices and lay them out wherever you want to keep flies away. We will warn you that some dogs love the taste of crunchy cucumbers so be sure to keep them out of their reach.

The Flies are Already Here so What Can I Do?

flies on a dog food bowl
Image by ariesa66 from Pixabay

The above suggestions are geared towards prevention, but what if you already have a fly infestation and need ways to kill them? It can be as easy as heading down to your local supermarket to purchase flypaper. You can also make your own involving corn syrup and sugar, but there are other more effective ways that don’t involve fly carcasses on full display.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar

For fruit flies, apple cider vinegar is highly effective. Take a small bowl or cup and pour in the solution. Use saran wrap to seal the top but make sure it’s pulled tightly. Perforate the plastic wrap with something sharp like a toothpick and punch multiple holes on the surface – and voila! This homemade device will attract flies and in order to get to the liquid, the pests will make their way under the plastic through the holes and remain trapped.

Alternatively, you can use wine as well if you don’t have apple cider vinegar.

Sweet Honey and Jam

Flies like all things sweet, so honey and jam are irresistible to them. You can use their weakness to your advantage by luring them in. Take a soda bottle and cut off the top quarter. On the inside of the bottom half, fill the bottle with some water and drip a few drops of liquid dish soap. Invert the top half with the spout and insert it into the bottom half. Carefully spread the honey or jam on the mouth of the bottle and place the whole invention near your dog’s food.

The fly will be attracted to the sweet taste of honey or jam, which will distract them from the danger that lies underneath.

Invest in a Zapper

English cocker spaniel beside a clean bowl of dog food
Image by Adriana Morales from Pixabay

Then there is the very simple and tried and true method of using a bug zapper. For these devices, there is nothing you need to do but plug them in where necessary. Just make sure to train your dog not to go near it or they can get a slight but shocking zap to the tongue.

The bug zapper lamps are more localized, but if you have an incoming fly zeroing in on your dog’s food, you can use a bug zapper racket. This device is shaped like a tennis racket with the same electricity-charged grid as seen on regular bug zappers. Just take a few swipes at the bothersome bug and its goodbye fly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What keeps flies away from dogs?

A clean environment will keep the flies at bay. However, if you already have a fly infestation, you can look into natural solutions such as citrus fruits, essential oils that flies hate or create your own contraptions to trap them. Don’t forget about the safety of your dog in your haste to get rid of flies. Whatever method you choose to use, remember to protect your dog first and keep everything out of reach.

What can I spray on my dog that repels flies?

Vinegar and water is a solution that you can spray on your dog to repel flies. Definitely use more parts water than vinegar but consult with your vet first to make sure it’s safe for your pet. There may also be repellents available at your local pet store that can keep flies away from your canine.


Flies are not generally dangerous to your dog, but they can be annoying. In addition to cleaning up animal waste, you should limit the amount of garbage and food lying around. A clean environment will limit the chances of fly infestation. Try to place the fly repellents away from where your dog feeds to prevent him from coming into contact with possibly harmful chemicals.

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Did You Know?

Flies aren’t hazardous themselves, but they can spread various diseases that can be deadly. Since they frequent gross and dirty places, they can easily get you and your family members sick. If you see flies on your property, it’s a good indication that a thorough cleanup is overdue.

Expert Tip

The fastest way to get rid of flies is through taste and scent. These pesky creatures can even taste with their feet, which is why having herb plants like bay leaf or basil is so effective. Keeping essential oil diffusers or homemade ones with lavender or peppermint is proved to be potent and functional as well.

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