How to Get Rid of Chiggers on Dogs – Treatment for Chigger Bites on Dogs

Chiggers on dog's belly
Chiggers on dogs mostly affect the abdominal area and legs

Chiggers may be invisible to the eye but they tend to bring untold misery to your pet. Chiggers on dogs will not only cause itching but if left unattended could also cause secondary infections arising from the broken skin during scratching. Discussed herein are various ways on how to soothe chigger bites on dogs using simple procedures with home ingredients such as oatmeal and ice packs. We also explore over the counter treatment.

Chiggers on Dogs: Can Dogs get Chiggers?

Chiggers are a type of mites that can cause excessive itching on their host. They are naturally found in wooded and shady areas but are not discriminating in what they pick for their larvae stage host. This being the case, can dogs get chiggers? Chiggers on dogs are quite prevalent in the spring and fall.

Chiggers on dog's belly
Chiggers on dogs mostly affect the abdominal area and legs

These though should not be confused with other skin biting bugs such as scabies, ticks, and fleas. You can differentiate chiggers on dogs from fleas and ticks by the fact that they are not as visible as these are and they would require a microscope to identify.

Other than ascertaining that the bug causing the specific symptoms are chiggers, it is also important to first ensure that you are not dealing with any other conditions before initiating treatment for chiggers on dogs. This is because they exhibit symptoms similar to those of allergic dermatitis conditions.

Chiggers tend to be very itchy and may cause rashes mostly seen in the areas of ground contact on the dog such as the abdomen, belly, legs, ears, face, and head. The itch resulting from their bites is also likely to cause irritation and inflammation. Dogs are likely to suffer these bugs when they walk outside in highly vegetated and infested areas. In case you went outdoors with your pet, it is also possible that you will suffer chigger symptoms.

Chigger Bites on Dogs: Do Chiggers Bite Dogs?

Do chiggers bite dogs? As discussed above, chiggers are tiny mites that have to go through various developmental stages before maturing. The larval stage of chiggers is parasitic. As such, it requires to attach onto a host so it can feed well enough to develop to the next stage of the life cycle. When it gets to this point, the chigger will latch on animals or humans. Chigger bites on dogs are experienced at this point.

It is possible for dogs to get chiggers when they walk on them in infested areas. Once on the dog, the larvae will move fast on past the fur and on to the skin where they inject enzymes into the dog. This action is what is commonly referred to as chigger bites on dogs. It, therefore, goes without saying that dogs can get chiggers as well as chigger bites. Here is how they get to this point

Chiggers in Dogs Life Cycle

The life cycle of chiggers is important in understanding chigger bites on dogs. It kicks off when an adult female chigger lays its eggs around vegetation and on the soil. These then hatch into larvae. After some time, they latch on to their host of choice which in this case is your dog.

Once on the dog, they move very fast past the fur onto the skin where they inject their enzyme-laden saliva onto your dog’s skin. This helps in liquefying the skin cells. The chiggers then feed on the end product of enzymatic reactions.

The point of the chigger bites on dogs will become itchy and could develop hives. It can take up to four days for them to feed to their fill after which they detach from the host. Once off the host, they develop into nymphs before maturing. This cycle could take up to 55 days to complete.

The life cycle of chiggers
Chiggers’ life cycle

In most cases, where the dog catches chiggers from your yard, it is likely that you too will get some if you ventured into the same area. You are therefore likely to experience itching as much as the dog will.

How to Get Rid of Chiggers on Dogs

Contrary to what some people believe, chiggers do not burrow into the skin and suck on the blood of their hosts. As such, suffocating methods of killing them such as an application of nail polish may not help. The most immediate action to take once your dog encounters chiggers is giving it a soapy bath before administering any other form of chiggers dog treatment. This will help to eliminate any chiggers still on the skin.

Once done, you can use the various methods on how to get rid of chiggers on dogs available. Your remedies should be aimed at soothing the itch so that the chiggers on the dog may not lead to excessive itch which may result in infections. There are various treatments for chigger bites on dogs that you can try. These areas discussed below.

Oatmeal Bath Natural Treatment for Chiggers on Dogs

Colloidal oatmeal is not only a soothing agent but also has protective anti-inflammatory agents. It will help to cool down irritation resulting from the chigger bites on your dog.

  1. Grind a cup of oatmeal and add it to the dog bath water.
  2. Using your hands, stir it up to enhance even distribution.
  3. Use this to give your dog a thorough bath soaking the whole body. This should help in easing the itch.

Epsom Salt and Dish Soap to Eliminate Chiggers in Dog

Chiggers on dogs can be eliminated using Epsom salt and dishwashing soap. The salt will help in soothing the itch while dish soap makes it easy to get rid of them.

  1. Fill a tub with some warm water and add a cup or two of Epsom salt.
  2. While the dog is soaking in the bath, add a few drops of a mild liquid dish soap.

Ice Packs to Soothe Chigger Bites on Dogs

Ice packs are great at relieving itch caused by chiggers on dogs. The cold helps in constricting the blood vessels which reduces the supply of blood to the area. They help to make the area of the bites numb giving your dog reduced sensation. With this kind of soothing, there is reduced itching, irritation and fewer hives develop as a result of chiggers on a dog.

Use ice packs to relief chigger bite itch
Ice packs for chigger bites on dog
  1. Get some ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrap it in a towel to avoid frostbites.
  2. Hold the ice on the area for at least a minute before getting it off the skin and dry off your pet immediately

How to Treat Chiggers on Dogs Using Green Tea

Green tea contains anti-inflammatory elements that go a long way in soothing bites caused by chiggers on a dog.

  1. Brew an appropriate amount of green tea depending on the size of your dog.
  2. Dilute it using water and use this to rinse your dog thoroughly.
  3. This should help soothe the itch. Repeat as may be necessary.

This will soothe down the itch and wash away the chiggers. You can even use green tea to soothe the itchy skin. Just brew a few bags of green tea, dilute in cold water and pour it over your dog.

Hydrocortisone for Chigger Itch in Dogs

Hydrocortisone contains elements that help to soothe irritation.

  1. Give your dog a bath immediately you suspect that it has been bitten by chiggers. Follow this up by applying hydrocortisone on the itchy areas. You could also use calamine lotion for the same.
  2. You could also try tropical steroids or calamine lotion on your dog. These will also help to clear up any inflammation. Rub your dog in the areas of concern and follow manufacturer instructions.

In case after trying these the dog does not seem to stop itching, you should seek your vet’s attention. Generally, the itch should start easing within two days and in case some bumps had formed, they should clear within one to two weeks.

The best way to keep off the discomfort that comes with chiggers on dogs is to keep off areas with the bugs. This involves watching out where you venture out to with your dog. Try and stay away from heavily vegetated areas, areas with long grasses and anywhere else that is favorable for them. In case your dog is yet to experience this, have a look at chiggers on dogs pictures and photos. It is something you might not want your dog to suffer.

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 336 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone

6 Comments

  1. I have a Jack Russell Terrier and he usually suffers itching in hot weather. I have found that putting him in a bath with tepid water and epsom salts is most helpful in relieving itching and it also has been most effective to kill chiggers and fleas. It is necessary to keep him in the bath for a good soak, maybe 20 minutes. I suspect the flea prevention causes a lot of his itching problems as when it gets near time to re-apply the chemicals, his itching and “prickly heat” type rash seem to disappear! Regular exposure to swimming seems to help also. I am so grateful for epsom salts!

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