Maggots and Dogs

A reader wrote to us with a question regarding whether maggots can survive after eating the flesh of a dead poisoned dog. Maggots, those household pests that often appear in food after it has decayed or rotted, are actually the larval form of the common housefly. Before maggots mature into their adult, airborne form they survive by feeding on decayed flesh. For this reason, maggots are often found in garbage disposals, sinks, rotten food, and among livestock. A dead dog would present an irresistible target for your average maggot.

But what if that dog meat were actually a Trojan horse for something more sinister? Could a maggot unknowingly consume the flesh of a poisoned dog and ingest an unwanted chemical leading to its doom? The answer surely depends on the nature of the poison the maggot consumes. Like most living creatures, maggots are susceptible to poisoning by a number of different chemical agents. Some of the common household items used to control maggot infestations include hairspray, brake cleaner, Drano and hot water, motor oil, RAID Wasp and Hornet Killer, and—wait for it—doggie shampoo.


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As you might have guessed, many of the preceding chemicals would also be quite deadly to poor Fido were he to unknowingly consume them (keep that Drano locked up under the sink where it belongs!). The mere thought of a dog being poisoned in such a way quite frankly sickens us, but in the very unfortunate event that a dog died of some form of poisoning and its flesh were eaten by maggots, the maggots would not be long for this world either. Of course, not all substances that poison dogs would also poison the maggots that consume the dog after it has died. For example, dogs can be poisoned by chocolate (at least if a sufficient quantity is consumed), but maggots would likely not be affected by eating a dog that has died by chocolate poisoning.

So, maggots could likely not sustain themselves by eating the flesh of a dead poisoned dog (depending on the poison that kills the dog). In short, the poison that harms the dog may also harm the maggot.

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