Can Dogs Get Chiggers? (A Mite-y Big Question)
Chiggers are extremely nasty bugs. If you’ve ever had to deal with the tiny critters, you’re well aware of the discomfort and the ugly welts that their chomping can create. But can these little pests inflict the same kind of bothersome pestilence to our pups?
A Closer Look at Chiggers
Scientifically known as Trombiculidae and alternately known as harvest mites, chiggers are a reddish-orange, pinhead-sized bug that typically hangs out in grassy areas during the spring and fall. While their initial bites are painless, they do cause severe itching and red welts that resemble hives. These bites could mutate into a skin rash if exposed to sunlight.
So, is My Dog Safe From These Critters?
Unfortunately, chiggers are one of those bugs that can attack dogs as well as humans. While their small size makes them virtually invisible when they latch onto your pooch, you'll be liable to see their handiwork via marks of irritation and inflammation on several parts of his body, including the legs, belly, ears, head, face, and abdomen. These bites are also very itchy and can drive your poor pooch crazy.
Chiggers are a problem because they need a host to grow. In a way, dogs make the ideal host because they have a tendency to hang out in grassy areas or chalky soil, which is where an adult chigger will lay her eggs. Once these bugs get onto your pooch, they can infiltrate your dog's fur pretty quickly en route to his skin underneath.
This is where things get particularly nasty. A chigger doesn’t so much bite your dog as it tears a tiny hole into his flesh by more or less liquefying skin cells. Once this hole is created, the chigger will feast on various enzymatic reactions that normally occur as a reaction to the tear.
This feeding process isn’t a fast food meal either, as a chigger can take up to four days to sufficiently feed on your pooch before detaching. The critter's point of feasting will become itchy and could cause your pooch to break out into hives. If your pooch unwittingly stumbles upon an massive amount of critters, a pretty nasty breakout can occur.
Preventing the Problem Before it Starts
Because chiggers can be such ruthless critters, it's imperative that you try to take care of any infestations before they have a chance to show up on your property. The best way to go about doing this is to create an unpleasant area wherever the bugs and your dog may co-mingle. This tactic tends to incorporate elements that you may link to basic lawn maintenance, which may be a bonus if you have an horticulturalist lurking inside you.
My Dog Got Bit by Chiggers - Repeatedly. What Do I Do?
Seeing your dog deal with the scourge of chiggers is no fun. However, there is good news: chigger bites are not that difficult to treat. In fact, there are several different remedies that you can deploy to help your pooch recover from all of the itchy discomfort.
For instance, you may be able to apply topical steroids, lotions, or medicines like hydrocortisone directly to the affected area to reduce inflammation. You can also place ice packs or even a bag of frozen veggies on the area to numb the affected region, which lessens the need to itch and perpetually irritate.
A combination of Epsom salt and dish washing soap has also been shown to wipe out chigger infestations on dogs while they are in mid-feast.
If you’re looking for a more natural remedy, you could give your pooch a colloidal oatmeal bath. This substance helps by not only soothing the itch but also by providing anti-inflammatory relief. Obviously, if this or any other remedy doesn't seem to work, you should take your dog to the vet for further examination.
It’s a Bad Thing, But It's Not the Worst Thing
If your dog is suffering from chiggers, it can be pretty heartbreaking to observe due to the amount of discomfort he may be going through. But take heart - while it is a nasty issue, at least, it's a condition that can be treated with relative ease. If you stay consistent with preventative measures, it's a condition that may not rear its ugly head on a repeated basis.