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Your dog, if like the typical canine, probably roams around the house, alternating between doorways to lay in and your clean rugs to lie on. Your dog is probably an essential member of the family, whose health you care about very much. But can your dog catch the same illnesses as you? Take bites from chiggers, for example, also known as Trombiculiasis mites. The parasite causes humans to itch, scratch and must be handled with caution, or it could cause a secondary infection. But can your dog even get chigger bites?
Can dogs get chigger bites?
YES! Some may think because dogs are coated in thick hair, that they are unlikely or immune from getting chigger bites, but actually, they can be bitten just as humans can. Chiggers pose the same threat of infection to your dog as they do to you!
Does my dog have chigger bites?
Symptoms of chigger bites are fortunately relatively straightforward to pick up on. Does your dog have red, raised bumps that they are frequently trying to itch? Has your dog’s skin broken, causing irritation or lesions? Has your dog developed any rashes, particularly underneath their body where they frequently come into contact with the ground? Has your dog lost any patches of hair? All of these can be symptoms of chigger bites.
Chigger bites are mostly the result of your dog being exposed to the elements. The adult mites lay their eggs on the ground, which then hatch and attack your dog. The chiggers attach to your dog to feed and then the problem develops.
Your vet will diagnose chigger bites mostly through a physical examination. Your vet will be looking out for an orange crust and may also wish to conduct additional tests to rule out other conditions. Then your vet will want to run through your dog’s medical history and lifestyle to ascertain whether your dog could likely have come across the mites. Read our guide for information on symptoms and additional problems associated with chigger bites.
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How do I treat my dog's chigger bites?
Treating your dog’s chiggers will predominately consist of keeping them out of contact with chiggers, plus keeping the problem area clean and free from infection. A soapy bath is a good idea to try and get rid of the chiggers. You also should try to prevent your dog from itching the chigger bites to stop further infection. Using ice packs may go some way to relieving the scratching temptation.
If no natural solutions seem to keep the chiggers at bay, your vet may offer some additional medication to treat the parasites. Both fipronil and permethrin may be used to not only prevent infestation, but also to try and reduce any infection. But on the whole, treatment consists of natural options.
Recovery is fully dependant on how long it takes to get rid of the chiggers. Once your dog is free of them, symptoms may start to diminish after a day or two. If treatment is used, you could expect your dog to be fully recovered in just a couple of weeks. By keeping your dog clean and away from chigger hot spots, recovery will be swifter and the chances of re-infestation reduced.
How are chigger bites similar in dogs and humans?
There are many similarities in the symptoms of chigger bites seen in dogs, humans and other animals. Some of the similarities you can expect to see are:
In both dogs and humans, individuals may seem to be persistently scratching or itching.
In both, the skin may appear red, cracked and sore.
In both, the problem area can become infected, which may lead to the area producing discharge.
In both, a visible rash may cover sections of skin.
In both, if the skin cracks, lesions may appear.
In both, small, red pimples may cover areas of the skin.
How are chigger bites different in dogs and humans?
There also some striking differences in symptoms is it worth being aware of. Some of the differences are:
Dogs may lose patches of hair, particularly underneath their body, which gets a lot of contact with hard surfaces. Hair loss is not, however, a symptom associated with chigger bites in humans.
Chigger bites in humans are often found on the legs where they are most in contact with low bushes, long grass, etc., whereas in dogs, chigger bite patches can appear pretty much anywhere.
Inflammation and irritation will be much more visible in humans. Because of their hair, dogs will need closer inspection.
Chyna was a 3-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever. She began itching almost constantly and her owners became concerned. The vet quickly diagnosed chigger bites and identified the unused farm field near their house as the probable cause. By thoroughly washing Chyna and keeping her away from the field in question, her symptoms cleared up in just 10 days. This showed that often treatment can be undertaken from home, following just a couple of straightforward steps.