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You can’t really see them, but they sure can cause havoc for your dog. Yes! We’re talking about chiggers. They can cause intense itching and leave your dog scratching endlessly. In fact, they can cause serious problems if left untreated. For example, vigorous scratching, which is a consequence of the itch caused by chiggers, can cause your dog’s skin to break. The broken skin can get infected and lead to various other complications. So, get your dog treated right away if he/she has chiggers. Here are a few treatment suggestions, but before we go there, let’s get a basic idea about chiggers.
What are Chiggers?
Chiggers are basically mites that attach themselves to a host (your dog) and cause intense itching. They generally tend to inhabit dark, wooded areas, but as larvae, they are pretty much okay with any location. In fact, the larvae stage is when they are likely to end up on your dog. Chiggers tend to affect dogs mostly during the fall and spring. They look very similar to fleas, ticks, and scabies. However, chigger marks are hardly noticeable like ticks or flea marks. You would likely need a microscope to even know your dog has chiggers. So, if your dog is scratching and you can’t find the source of the itch right away, it’s likely to be chiggers.
There are allopathic and natural treatment options for chiggers. Your vet’s treatment suggestion will most likely involve the use of either an anti-parasite topical application or pyrethrin-based dips. The pyrethrin-based dips are applied on a localized area, with each dip being applied two weeks apart. Injectable or topical steroids are also a treatment option. They are very useful in alleviating any itchiness. As for natural treatment options, green tea is known to offer anti-inflammatory benefits. That’s exactly why they are used to treat chigger bites. All you have to do is brew some green tea according to your dog’s size. Then, dilute the green tea with water. Use the diluted green tea to rinse your dog. This will take care of the itch. You can repeat it if necessary. Bathe your dog immediately if you suspect he/she has been affected by chiggers. After you bathe him/her, apply hydrocortisone over the areas that are itchy. As an alternative, you can even use calamine lotion or topical steroids. They are sure to help with inflammation. If none of the above treatment suggestions work, please visit your vet immediately. Ideally, itching should stop within a few days, while the bumps should go away in a couple of weeks. As a preventive measure, keep your dog away from areas that are known to host bugs or have very heavy vegetation.
What You Need to Know About Chigger Infestation in Dogs
Among other parasites that can latch on your dog, few are as troublesome as Chigger larvae. The worst thing about Chiggers is that they cannot be easily detected by the naked eye. Chiggers not only pose problems for dogs but for all other animals- including humans. Chiggers are found in areas that have little or no sunlight falling on the ground. Especially dangerous areas are wooded areas with a lot of grass and plantation. One walk through such an area and your dog would end up scratching himself continuously. Chiggers are found concentrated in a patch. An animal that accidentally sets foot in such an area will be infested with swarms of Chiggers. As they are found on the ground, they hook themselves on more to a dog’s belly, feet, face, and other parts that are in close proximity to the ground.
Are chiggers very dangerous?
Chiggers often scare people because of certain misconceptions. Contrary to what people may say, chiggers don’t burrow themselves into the host’s body. Besides, chigger infestation is not very hard to cure. However, it can be difficult to identify a chigger infestation as it can be easily confused with other skin conditions. Generally, a Chigger infestation is followed by reddish rashes in areas that have less fur and are in closer proximity to the ground. It’s important to identify chigger infestation and check it on time as there is always a danger of secondary infections caused due to over-scratching.
How to treat Chigger infestation
Dog owners who have had nasty experiences with Chiggers insist that green tea is of amazing help in case of Chigger infestation. Brew some green tea, dilute in some water, and give your four-legged friend a good rinse. Green tea, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, soothes the skin and washes away the larvae. Green tea has a reputation for being an enemy of pests and bugs, and the same applies to chiggers as well. Other owners simply give their dogs a warm bath in which they mix an adequate quantity of water and a tiny quantity of dishwashing soap. The salt has anti-inflammatory properties and soothes the skin, while dish-wash soap is poison to chiggers. In case the infestation is very aggressive, it would be a good idea to consult a vet or an expert. In these cases, it’s also a great idea to use medicines that have been made especially for this. As mentioned already, although a chigger infestation itself may not be dangerous, the constant scratching can cause secondary issues like breaking the skin. Ideally, be careful where you take your dog for a walk, and in case you know your dog has been to places where there could be a chance of chigger larvae thriving, it would be a great idea to give them a green tea or Epsom salt bath even if symptoms haven’t flared up.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you treat chigger bites on a dog?
To treat chigger bites on a dog, first, clean the affected area with mild soap and water. Then, apply a topical antiseptic to the bites to prevent infection. You can also give your dog an antihistamine like Predinasone to reduce itching and inflammation. Keep the area clean and dry, and try to keep your dog from scratching the bites, as this can cause further irritation and increase the risk of infection. If the bites are severe or if your dog appears to be in pain, it's a good idea to consult your veterinarian for further treatment. Chiggers are often found in tall grasses and wooded areas, so if your dog spends a lot of time there, it is important to use tick and flea prevention.
How do I know if my dog has chigger bites?
Chiggers are tiny, reddish-orange mites that can bite and irritate the skin of animals, including dogs. The bites typically appear as small, red, raised bumps that may be itchy or painful. In severe cases, a dog may develop a rash or hives. If you suspect your dog has been bitten by chiggers, it's a good idea to consult with a veterinarian, who can examine your dog and provide a diagnosis and treatment plan. To prevent chigger bites, try to avoid areas where chiggers are commonly found, such as tall grass, bushes, and wooded areas. Also, keep your dog well-groomed and avoid walking them through these areas during peak chigger activity, which is typically in the early morning and late evening. If you do take your dog for a walk in an area where chiggers may be present, be sure to check them for bites and remove any that you find as soon as possible.
Can chiggers jump from dogs to humans?
Chiggers do not jump or fly, and they cannot move from one host to another on their own. They can only crawl. Humans and dogs can be bitten by chiggers if they come into contact with the mites in areas where they live, such as tall grass, bushes, or wooded areas. It is possible for chiggers to crawl from an animal to a person. But it is a very rare scenario. This usually happens if an animal that is carrying chiggers comes into close contact with a person, such as by sitting on the same piece of furniture or lying on the same bed. If this happens, the chiggers may crawl from the animal onto the person and bite them.
Can chiggers infest your house?
It is unlikely for chiggers to infest a house, as they typically do not survive indoors. Chiggers are found in outdoor environments such as tall grass, bushes, and wooded areas. They need moist and warm environments to survive, which are not common conditions in most houses. However, if a person or pet has been bitten by chiggers and brings the mites into the house on their clothes or skin, it's possible for them to bite and irritate the skin of anyone in the house. Additionally, if you have pets who spend time outside and bring chiggers indoors on their fur, the chiggers can bite the pets and the humans living in the house. But again, it's not a common scenario, and chiggers will not establish colonies or infest inside your home. Keeping outdoor areas near the house well-maintained and inspecting yourself, your pets, and your clothes after outdoor activities will prevent chigger bites.
What happens if chiggers go untreated?
If chiggers go untreated in dogs, the symptoms of itchiness, redness, and rash may persist and worsen. The dog may constantly lick, scratch, or bite the affected areas, which can lead to secondary skin infections. These infections can result in hair loss, scabbing, and scarring in the affected areas. In severe cases, the dog may develop a fever and show signs of fatigue or loss of appetite. Additionally, if left untreated, the dog's skin can become dry and flaky, which in turn increases the risk of further infections and even allergies. If a secondary infection develops, the dog may require antibiotics or other medications to help clear up the infection.