Get Rid of Flies Around Your Dog's Water and Food Bowls

Whether you feed your dog inside the house, or outside, you’ve probably experienced a problem with flies at some point. There are several methods to help eliminate flies from around your dog’s food and water bowls, and many of them can be made using items you probably already have in your home.


Preventing Flies

  1. Use a portion-control or timed feeding method. Portion-control feeding means to measure out the exact amount of food your dog should have per meal, and only giving your dog that amount. If you’re feeding based on meals, you should feed your dog twice per day, about 8-12 hours apart. Timed feeding means that you put out your dog’s meal for a certain period of time, and then take the food away once that time is up, even if there’s some left over. Over time your dog will realize it has limited time to eat, and will consume its entire meal during that time.[1] Either method will help ensure there isn’t left over dog food sitting in a bowl that may attract flies.
    • If you decide to use a method whereby your dog can graze on food throughout the day, you may wish to keep the food and waters bowls quite separate to prevent dry dog food from getting wet. The dampness of the food may attract flies.
  2. Clean up dog poop immediately. Flies are attracted to dog poop like they are to dog food. Obviously the dog food has to stay, but there’s no reason why the dog poop has to be left in the yard for any period of time. Clean-up and dispose of dog waste immediately after your dog has done its business and you should start to see the number of flies in the area decrease.[2]
  3. Remove any fly breeding areas. Flies breed in moist or semi-liquid areas where they have access to vegetable or animal waste, including garbage, feces, compost piles and more. It only takes a maggot about 2-3 weeks to become a fly, and once hatched, flies tend to stick close to where they were born. Therefore cleaning up any breeding areas, and keeping them clean, will help ensure no new flies are born in the area.[3]
    • For dogs that are primarily outdoors, such as working dogs, another possibly breeding place for flies is the dog itself. Keeping your dog clean and dry, and making sure any open wounds are taken care of immediately, will also help remove possible fly breeding areas.[4]
  4. Fix screens in your windows and doors. Most flies that you find inside your house got there because they found an opening somewhere - such as a rip in a screen. The best way to keep flies out of the house is to make sure they don’t have a way to get inside. Fixing or replacing screens with holes or rips in them is a great start.[3]
    • When entering and exiting your home, be sure to open and close doors quickly to prevent any flies from getting inside. It is also a good idea not to prop doors open if at all possible, as that would create an open invitation to any flies, and other insects, to go right in.

Repelling Flies

  1. Hang up a ziplock bag with water. Any decent-sized ziplock, or medium, clear plastic bag will do. Fill it halfway with water. Tie or zip the bag closed so that most, if not all, the air is removed. Hang the bag near your dog’s food and water bowls..[5] The water in the plastic bag refracts light and, based on the way a fly’s eyes work, this refracted light causes confusion and the fly tends to leave the area.[6]
    • Hang as many of these around the house, and outside, as you’d like. They should stop the flies from hanging around almost immediately.
  2. Repel flies with lavender oil. Obtain a sponge or a small cloth. Dip the sponge or cloth into undiluted lavender oil - approximately ½-1 cup - and allow the sponge or cloth to soak up the oil. Then place the sponge or cloth into a tin can with a lid and set it aside for a day. After a day has gone by, remove the lid from the can and place the open can near your dog’s food and water bowls, out of their reach. You will need to replenish the lavender oil periodically as it looses its intensity.
    • Do not allow undiluted lavender oil to come into contact with bare skin.
    • Alternatively, you can use citronella, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, peppermint or lemongrass oil instead of lavender, but these oils must be diluted with water or alcohol at a ratio of 1:3.
  3. Repel flies with cloves and lemon. Cut 2 lemons into halves. Poke 6-12 cloves into each lemon section. Make sure the bud of the clove is facing up, out of the lemon. Place the lemon sections near your dog’s food and water bowls, out of their reach of course.
    • If you do not have lemons, or would prefer not to use them, you can place the cloves, by themselves, in a cheesecloth or muslin bag and place the bag near the dog’s bowls. This is just as effective, just not as pretty!
  4. Spray lemongrass water. Combine 10-12 drops of lemongrass oil with ¼ cup of hot water into a spray bottle. Shake, then spray the water around areas frequented by flies, such as doors and windows.[7] You can spray around the area where you feed your dog, but don’t spray directly on their bowls, or any surface they might lick.
    • Lemongrass water can also be used like an instant fly spray, and sprayed directly at a fly when you see one.
    • If you don’t want to spend the money to buy lemongrass oil, which can be expensive, use plain dish soap instead. It won’t have the same nice smell, but it’s just as effective at repelling the flies.
  5. Grow herbs and flowers that flies don’t like. Basil, lavender, bay leaves, tansy, mint, rue, wormwood and marigolds are not favourites of flies. Plant these herbs and flowers outside your home, near to where your dog’s food and water bowls are, to help repel flies. You can also plant them in pots to keep indoors near your dog’s bowls.[7]
  6. Lay out cucumber slices. Place cucumber slices (inside or outside) near your dog’s food and water bowls.[8] Since you don’t want to replace the cucumbers several times a day as your dog eats them, place the slices somewhere your dog can’t get to them!

Killing Flies

  1. Make your own flypaper strips. Instead of using store-bought, commercially-made flypaper, make your own using ingredients that aren’t poisonous. Use any type of paper cut into 2” strips of any length. Punch a hole in one end of the strip to put string through for hanging. Combine ½ cup of corn syrup and ¼ cup of sugar to make a sticky mixture. Apply the mixture to both sides of each paper strip. Hang the strips near your dog’s food and water bowls (high enough so the dog cannot grab them). Replace the strips when they have several dead flies on them.[7]
  2. Trap fruit flies with apple cider vinegar. Pour apple cider vinegar into a bowl, cup, glass, etc. Place plastic wrap over the top of the bowl, cup, glass, etc., and attach it using an elastic. Make sure the plastic is pulled tight over the opening, like the surface of a drum. Using a toothpick, stab a bunch of holes into the plastic wrap. Place the whole contraption near your dog’s food and water bowls, but not in a location where the dog can get to it. Empty and refill as often as needed.[7]
    • An alternative to apple cider vinegar is wine. Wine can be used in the exact same fashion to attract and kill flies. You can also add dish soap to the wine to help ensure the flies cannot escape. Of course, you’d have to waste wine in order to do this, so your problem would probably have to be rather severe to use this method!
  3. Trap flies with honey or jam. Cut an individual-sized pop/soda/juice bottle in half, making the bottom half larger than the top half. Fill half the bottom half with water and a put in a couple drops of dish soap. Place the top half of the bottle into the bottom half, inverted (i.e. the opening of the bottle goes towards the water, without the cap on). Spread honey or jam near the mouth of the bottle that’s facing the water. Place the whole contraption near your dog’s food and water bowls - but still out of their reach (as it’ll probably attract dogs as well as flies!).[7]
  4. Buy and install a bug zapper. A bug zapper is designed more for outdoor use than indoor use and requires an electrical outlet. The zapper emits a light that attracts many insects and when they get close enough zaps them with an electrical discharge that kills them.
    • Note that flies, in general, are not attracted to light and a bug zapper may not be as effective on them as other methods.


  • Even natural solutions may be hazardous to your dog. The best aspect to any solution is to keep it away from your dog by placing it out of their reach. If you’re concerned, ask your veterinarian for advice on items that may be hazardous to your dog before you implement any solutions.
  • In addition to natural techniques, there are also many chemical solutions that can be purchased at a grocery store, a hardware store or via a pest control company. If you decide to use chemical-based solutions, make sure they are safe for your dog, other pets and humans.

Related Articles

Sources and Citations