Chiggers are pesky parasites that feed on the skin of warm-blooded animals. With that, many pet owners are wondering, can chiggers live on dogs? The quick answer is yes, your furry friend isn’t invincible to these sneaky critters. But just like any parasites, a chigger infestation can be prevented and treated.
In general, your dog can get chiggers all year round, with the exception of the winter season since these insects aren’t tolerant of extremely low temperatures.
Below, I detailed what chiggers are, how your dog can get them, and what you can do in case your pet gets infested.
Can chiggers live on dogs?
Chiggers or Trombiculamites is a cousin of spiders. It’s also known by the names scrub mites, red bugs, harvest mites, and itch mites. They are often found in grassy areas and forests. So if you’re often taking your dog in these places, its risk of contracting chiggers is high.
The worst thing about chiggers is that the larvae congregate in one place. So if your dog happened to disturb the chigger’s habitat, it will be swarmed by the parasites at once.
Moreover, chigger bites are unbearably itchy, much so if your dog got bitten by a whole swarm. Another challenge here is that chiggers are so small and not easy to spot in the wild.
Contrary to misconceptions, chiggers don’t suck blood from humans or animals. They don’t burrow under the skin either.
Instead, these critters inject digestive enzymes into the skin of the host to disintegrate the skin cells. This is what they use as food.
Despite that, chigger bites are extremely itchy and can lead to a massive infection if not treated right away. And even if your dog is covered by fur, chiggers can target your pet’s head and ear areas where fur is typically less dense.
Overall, chigger bites are its peak during the fall and summer months. The only consolation here is that chiggers don’t carry any disease, but their bites can trigger secondary infections if not treated right away.
How do dogs get chiggers?
Canines get chiggers by direct contact to their harborage. It can’t be transmitted from humans to dogs and vice versa. So if you got chiggers, it’s likely that you got exposed to the source of the insect itself and not the ones present in your dog.
Take note that chigger bites aren’t contagious. You can’t give it to someone else unless that person or animal gets exposed to the place where the chiggers can be found.
How to treat chiggers in dogs
If you suspect that your dog has chiggers, it’s important to contact the veterinarian right away. You can also do the following steps to help provide relief to your itching dog:
1. Wipe the area
It helps a lot to wipe the affected area with a soft cloth. Your dog’s vet can also recommend a special wipe that will effectively remove the chiggers off your pet’s skin.
However, make sure that you dispose of the wipe that you used to prevent the chiggers from spreading.
2. Give your dog a warm bath
If wiping alone doesn’t work, you can give your dog a warm bath. You can also use an oatmeal canine shampoo to ease the itching and inflammation from the bites.
Let the shampoo soak on your dog’s fur for at least five minutes to wash away the chiggers. You can give your dog regular baths until its condition improves. You can also consult the vet if you can use medicated shampoo for your dog.
3. Ask for medications from the vet
For worse cases of chigger infestation, the vet may prescribe prednisone to alleviate your dog’s skin inflammation. Take note that you should seek a vet prescription for this drug before giving it to your dog. This is because the dosage will depend on various factors like your dog’s breed, age, health status, and more.
4. Use tick and mite-killing medications
Tick and mite medications that contain acaricides are also effective in eliminating chiggers. Some of these are Seresto, Frontline, and Revolution.
Aside from killing the existing chiggers, these medications will also serve as preventive measures for future infestations.
How to keep dogs safe from chiggers
Chiggers in dogs can be prevented with a few precautions. Here are a few you should keep in mind:
🐶Avoid chigger habitats
The best way to avoid chiggers is to stay away from their habitats. This parasite often thrives in moist and grassy areas in the forests, fields, and even your own lawn. You should also be careful near streams and lakes where chiggers can also create swarms.
Overall, chiggers are rarely found in residential areas, unless there’s an ideal place for them to propagate.
🐶Put preventives on your dog
If you live near a forest or grassy area, make sure that your dog is up to date with its tick and flea preventive. This same medication covers other parasites like chiggers.
When a chigger bites or gets in contact with your dog’s skin, the insect will die from poisoning. So far, this is the most effective way to repel and eliminate chiggers at the same time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How would I know if my dog has chiggers?
A: When chiggers accumulate on your dog’s skin, they will appear as orange spots. However, this will only be visible if the infestation is already advanced. In mild cases, the only way to confirm the presence of chiggers is to subject your dog’s skin to microscopic examination.
Q: How long do chigger bites last on dogs?
A: Once the chiggers are cleared up, their bites may take up to two weeks to fully heal. During this period, you can use topical creams to soothe your dog’s itching. The vet can prescribe the right medication to help your dog recover.
Q: How do I get rid of chiggers in my yard?
A: If you discovered that you have chiggers in your yard, you can use diatomaceous earth. Simply sprinkle the dust on the areas where the chiggers are located. The glass-like microscopic structure of diatomaceous earth will cut through the chiggers’ bodies and kill them in the process.
Can chiggers live on dogs? Yes, these pests can live and feed on your dog’s skin. In the process, it will cause itchy and nasty bites. If not treated, the bites may trigger an infection that will make things worse for your pet.
Chiggers or not, it’s important to address any skin irritations of your dog. This way, the pooch will be spared from the discomfort and potential complications.