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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Chiggers (Trombiculid Mites)

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Condition Overview

Chiggers, also called harvest mites or red bugs, live as adults in decaying vegetation. Only their larval forms are parasitic.

Symptoms

The larvae feed by sucking on the skin. The result is severe itching and the formation of sores and scabs.

Causes

Dogs acquire the infestation while prowling through the forest grasslands and fields in late summer and fall, when chiggers are reproducing.

Diagnosis

Chigger larvae appear as red, yellow, or orange specks, barely visible to the naked eye but easily seen with a magnifying glass. They tend to clump in areas where the skin is thin, usually between the toes or around the ears and mouth. The diagnosis is made by identifying the mites by visual inspection or by microscopic examination of skin scrapings.

Treatment

Chiggers respond well to a single application of a lime-sulfur dip (LymDyp) or a pyrethrin shampoo. Corticosteroids may be required for 2 or 3 days to control the intense itching. If the ear canals are involved, treat with thiabendazole drops (Tresaderm).

Prevention

Prevent re-infestation by keeping you dog out of fields and grasses during the chigger season.

Support

Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may be infested with chiggers.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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