Throughout the central parts of the U.S.A., there is a very common and annoying parasite known as Chiggers, scientifically known as the Trombicula mite. They have also been called harvest mites. They have the potential to bite dogs, cats, and people, and the bites cause extreme itching. Thankfully, although it is difficult to prevent being bitten by chiggers, it is very easy to treat the bites and infestation.
Chigger Life Cycle
These kinds of mites prefer to lay their eggs in areas with high vegetation, or places with lots of dense soil. The larvae that hatch out are the ones that are responsible for infesting and biting dogs and people. They stay on the dog or person for a few days, using the tissue for nourishment, and then leave. Next, they go into the nymph stage, and finally turn into adults. The entire life cycle takes between 50-55 days. Since it doesn’t get very cold for long times in the southern parts of the U.S.A., chiggers can reproduce the whole year, but further north – where it does indeed get quite cold, the chiggers usually only have about two hatchings a year.
Signs and Symptoms of a Chigger Bite
When chiggers infest dogs, most of the time they get around the head, legs, and stomach areas – if you look closely, you can sometimes even see them on your dog. Most people liken their appearance to the spice called, paprika. For some dogs, no symptoms may be present, whilst in other dogs, you may notice frequent itching at the spots where the chiggers have become attached. When people are bit, they almost always have a welt, and the itch will be maddening for a few days.
Usually, to be sure that a chigger bite is what is causing the problem and not Dog Ear Mites, the area inside the dog’s ear will be scraped, and a sample removed and examined, or a spot on the dog will be scraped and analyzed under a microscope. In some instances, only looking can confirm a chigger’s diagnosis.
Prevention and Treatment of Chiggers
Treating chiggers is straightforward, and consists of either a dip comprised of pyrethrin, used twice, in two-week intervals, or a topical cream can be placed directly on the infested areas. To stop the intense itching that accompanies a chigger’s bite, injectable or topical steroids are often used for dogs to offer them relief from the itching. This will often successfully cease the insane itching; giving your dog some much deserved assistance with the itching.
Chiggers are common mites found in the central portion of the United States. These mites can infect both humans and dogs, however Veterinarian Holly Nash of PetEducation.com notes that it is highly unlikely for a human to catch chiggers from their dog―though this does not mean it is impossible.
Signs of chiggers include redness, irritation, intense itching and small welts. If the owner suspects that his dog has contracted chigger mites, he should seek veterinary care. Chigger bites on humans may require a doctor’s attention, but in some cases can be treated with over-the-counter medications and itch relief treatments.