Chiggers are a skin mites found in wooded areas of the U.S. as well around the world, and they cause an extremely itchy skin infestation. They go by many other names including harvest mites, red bugs, itch mites, heel bugs, black soil itch mites, duck-shooters itch mites, bush mites, berry bugs, and scrub mites, and they all belong to the family of mites called Trombiculid mites.
Chiggers can be an unwelcome nuisance for dogs, causing discomfort and itching. In this guide, we explore effective methods to get rid of chiggers and provide relief for your canine companion.
What You Need to Treat Chiggers in Dogs
Listed below are some common treatments your vet may suggest:
- Medication: If your vet diagnoses your pup with chiggers, she will likely prescribe a specific medication to kill the mites. Usually the medications used to kill chiggers are topical products containing fipronil and/or permethrin, some of which may be purchased over-the-counter.2
- Antibiotics: In many cases, dogs may also need antibiotics if they have a secondary skin infection, and/or steroids if they have severe inflammation of their skin. Follow your veterinarian’s directions exactly and make sure to finish all courses of medications as directed to avoid complications.
- Baths: Soothing baths may also help to control the itch while you wait for the medication to take effect. Be sure to use water that is lukewarm and not too hot to prevent further drying of the skin. Use a gentle itch-relieving shampoo such as an oatmeal-based product and/or one containing phytosphingosine, which is a moisturizing ingredient that may also reduce inflammation and have antimicrobial properties. This can help strengthen the skin’s protective barrier. Your vet may recommend a medicated shampoo as well.
It is also important to prevent re-infection for your pup. This means keeping your pup away from areas where chiggers live and where it may have become infected in the first place.
How to Get Rid of Chiggers in Dogs
1. Identify Chigger Hotspots: Tip: Chiggers thrive in tall grass and wooded areas. Identify and avoid these areas when taking your dog for walks or playtime to reduce the risk of chigger exposure.
2. Regular Grooming: Tip: Brush your dog regularly, especially after outdoor activities. This helps remove any chiggers before they have a chance to embed in your dog’s fur or skin.
3. Use Preventative Products: Tip: Invest in chigger prevention products such as vet-recommended shampoos, sprays, or spot-on treatments. These can create a barrier and deter chiggers from latching onto your dog.
4. Maintain a Clean Environment: Tip: Keep your home and your dog’s living area clean. Regularly vacuum carpets, wash bedding, and clean any areas where your dog spends time to eliminate potential chigger hiding spots.
5. Yard Maintenance: Tip: Keep your yard well-maintained by regularly mowing the grass and trimming vegetation. This reduces the likelihood of chiggers in your outdoor space.
6. Chigger-Repellent Collars: Tip: Explore the use of chigger-repellent collars designed for dogs. These collars release active ingredients that deter chiggers and other pests.
7. Oatmeal Baths: Tip: If your dog has been exposed to chiggers, consider giving them an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal has soothing properties that can help alleviate itching and discomfort.
8. Consult Your Veterinarian: Tip: If your dog shows signs of chigger bites or persistent itching, consult your veterinarian. They can recommend specific treatments, such as medicated shampoos or antihistamines, to address the issue.
9. Avoid Over-the-counter Medications: Tip: Avoid using over-the-counter medications without consulting your vet. Some human products may be toxic to dogs, and it’s crucial to use pet-safe solutions.
10. Frequent Inspections: Tip: Regularly inspect your dog’s skin, especially in areas where chiggers are known to thrive, such as the ears, belly, and paws. Promptly remove any chiggers you find with tweezers.
By combining preventative measures, regular grooming, and prompt action if chiggers are detected, you can help keep your dog chigger-free and ensure their comfort and well-being. Always consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice based on your dog’s health and specific circumstances.