Has your dog contracted chiggers? Those microscopic red-orange mites are commonly found in meadows, woodlands, parks, and around lakes and rivers. Unfortunately, they can be easily picked up by your dog when out on walks and can cause intense itching. So, how can you get rid of chiggers, and how can you prevent your dog from catching them again? Read on to find out.
So, how can I get rid of chiggers on my dog? To get rid of chiggers on your dog, you first need to speak to your vet so they can accurately diagnose the condition. They will also be able to prescribe anti-parasite topical medications. To help soothe the itching and inflammation at home, try giving your dog an oatmeal or green tea bath.
As you can see, to properly get rid of them, you’ll need the help of a vet.
Though you can certainly do things at home to ease their discomfort in the meantime.
So let’s continue to explore all you can do, starting with how your dog likely contracted them.
At least that way, you may be able to identify where your dog caught them; and perhaps avoid this location going forward!
Why Do Dogs Get Chiggers?
Dogs can get chiggers when out on walks or by playing in grassy or wooded areas.
These miniature pests (called Trombiculidae) are a family of red-orange mites.
They can also be referred to as berry bugs, red bugs, harvest mites, and scrub-itch mites.
They are commonly found across America, Western Europe, and East Asia and inhabit a range of environments, from semi-deserts to swamps and hedgerows.
Chiggers generally congregate on the ground.
Then, when the eggs hatch, the larvae crawl into nearby grass and bushes.
When your dog walks past, they hook themselves onto the belly, paws, face, under the tail, and on other parts of the body that are close to the ground.
It’s only the larvae that cause irritation, a condition known as trombiculiasis.
When they become adults, they fall off their host and feed on insect eggs. The whole lifecycle of a chigger lasts around 50-55 days.
Contrary to popular opinion, chiggers do not bury in the body of their host.
Instead, they pierce the skin with specially designed hooked fangs and inject enzymes that digest skin cells.
These secretions harden to form a tube called a stylostrome, which the chigger then uses to suck up liquified skin tissue.
Feeding only lasts a few days until the chigger detaches and moves to the next stage of its lifecycle.
However, the stylostrome stays attached, which can cause intense itching.
Chiggers can be very difficult to see with the naked eye because they only measure 0.4mm in length.
A chigger infection can also be confused with other skin infections. The signs to watch out for include the following:
- Raised red bumps on the body – These tend to be very itchy and can become inflamed or irritated.
- Rashes – These usually appear on body parts that have come into contact with the ground, such as the nose, ears, feet, and stomach.
- Erythema – Red patches on the skin
- Alopecia – Hair loss is more common in the advanced stages of an infection or as the result of a severe reaction to these parasites.
- Red or orange crusting on broken skin – This is caused by intense scratching, which can cause lesions to appear on the skin.
- Pimples – Your dog may develop pimples on the skin as well as a rash.
- Excessive itching – This will begin around 3-6 hours after exposure to chiggers.
If you notice any of these signs, you must get your dog to a vet.
They will perform a full physical evaluation of your pup and may perform skin scrapings to look for mites.
In addition, they may want to take a complete history of your dog, including their diet, recent activity, potential allergens, and any previous skin conditions to rule out other possible causes.
In the larval stage, these parasites attach to various animals, including humans.
They can attach to your clothes and bite the skin, causing irritation.
It’s worth mentioning that chiggers do not transfer from dogs to humans, but both can pick them up when out on walks.
How Can I Get Rid Of Chiggers On My Dog?
To remove chiggers from your dog, you first need to confirm the diagnosis by booking an appointment with your vet. They will also be able to advise you on the best treatment options depending on the severity of the infestation.
Vet treatments will most likely include the use of an anti-parasite topical or injectable medication, such as prednisone or dexamethasone.
Alternatively, pyrethrin-based dips may be prescribed, which are usually applied two weeks apart.
Bear in mind that your dog may also need a course of antibiotics if they have a secondary skin infection caused by open lesions.
Saying that there are also a number of home remedies that have proven successful in getting rid of chiggers.
Most of these remedies will help to soothe irritation and itching.
However, if symptoms don’t improve, you should contact your vet for further guidance.
Ideally, the itching caused by a chigger infection should clear up after a few days, and the bumps should disappear within two weeks or so.
Most dogs make a full recovery after catching chiggers. Repeated veterinary examinations will only be needed if your dog continues to itch after treatment.
Nevertheless, the first thing to do is give your dog a warm, soapy bath; then, there are a variety of options to soothe your pup’s skin, including:
An Oatmeal Bath
You can either use an oatmeal-based product, colloidal oatmeal or simply add a cup of ground oatmeal to lukewarm bath water.
Soak the infected areas in the mixture to soothe irritation.
Alternatively, you can pour porridge oats into a sock and run this under warm water.
This will keep the granules contained while allowing the soothing oatmeal concoction to mix with the water.
Green tea is famed for its anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s also known for repelling a range of pests, including chiggers.
Brew some green tea, dilute it in some water, and pour it over your dog.
You can also apply this concoction directly to infected areas to take care of the itching.
Dish Soap and Epsom Salt Bath
The salt will act as an anti-itch remedy, whereas the dish soap will help to get rid of the chiggers.
Just add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts and a squirt of dish soap to your dog’s bath water.
Make sure none of the bathwater gets in your dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth, as this can cause irritation.
An ice pack wrapped in a cloth is an efficient and cheap way to soothe itching.
Simply apply to the affected area for around 10 minutes.
Then remove the ice pack and massage the area.
This can be done repeatedly to soothe any irritation or inflammation on your dog’s skin.
This plant is well known for its soothing properties.
You can apply the aloe directly to the inflamed or itchy areas of the skin, or you can give your dog an aloe vera bath.
After bathing, apply this substance to the itchy areas.
If you can’t find hydrocortisone, you can also use calamine lotion or a topical steroid. These should help with any inflammation.
Do not use nail polish. There is a myth circulating that nail polish is good for chigger bites.
However, it can be very toxic if ingested or licked, and there is no medical evidence to back up this claim.
Wash Your Dog’s Items
In addition to these soothing remedies, you will also want to wash any pet bedding or harnesses in hot water.
Furthermore, you can soak your dog’s collar and lead in an oatmeal mixture to get rid of any additional chiggers.
How To Stop Your Dog From Catching Chiggers In The Future
The best way to stop your dog from catching chiggers in the future is to avoid grassy areas where you know chiggers congregate, especially in the summer and autumn months.
Luckily, chiggers tend to favor the same breeding sites every year.
So, if you know where they are, avoid those places! However, this isn’t always possible.
So, here are a few other ways you can prevent future chigger’s infections:
Monthly Prevention Products
Treat your dog every month with a preventative treatment that is specifically designed to stop infestations of mites, fleas, and ticks.
Some products also kill intestinal parasites and prevent heartworm infection.
So, it’s always worth speaking to your vet about the options available.
Especially those containing permethrin, as this substance is very effective at warding off pests.
Mow Your Lawn Regularly
Chiggers love moist areas with long grass.
So, by keeping the grass short in your garden, you can reduce the risk of your dog catching them.
Use Pest Repellents
Spray insect repellents in your garden to keep those pesky chiggers at bay.
However, remember to check the label before using because some products can be toxic to dogs if ingested.
It’s essential to avoid any products containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) because this can cause vomiting, skin irritation, and seizures in canines.
Alternatively, you can use natural deterrents such as rosemary or citronella essential oils.
Walk Your Dog On A Leash
f you can’t resist a roam in the woods, then make sure you keep your dog on a leash.
This will prevent them from sniffing through long vegetation where they are more likely to pick up chiggers.
Make sure to also supervise your dog around straw piles, mulch, and woodchips, as these are perfect breeding grounds for chiggers.
Bathe Your Dog After Walks
As soon as you get home, give your dog a bath in warm, soapy water.
If they have picked up any chiggers, the soap will help to wash them off and even kill them.
Chigger infections can be very irritating for your dog.
However, by following these steps, you will soon have your bouncy pup back to his usual self!
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I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.