Chiggers

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Chiggers

Post by Eleanor on Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:22 pm

Chiggers are orange-red larvae of Trombiculidae mites, measuring roughly 0.4 millimetres in length. They live on the skin of an infested dog, injecting digestive enzymes in their saliva into the skin, which breaks it down so that they can ingest the inner skin, causing raised bumps and irritation. Chiggers are not host specific, so they may also attach themselves to other household pets and humans.  In the United Kingdom, the dominant species of chigger is often referred to as a ‘harvest mite.’

Is my dog likely to get chiggers?


The likelihood of your dog becoming infested with chiggers depends very much on where you live and walk your dog. Chiggers tend to favour woodland and grassland areas, particularly in damp areas around lakes, rivers and streams. Chiggers may also be found in dryer areas such as golf courses. The chances of getting chiggers increase in the spring and early summer.

Symptoms:


  • Severe irritation


  • Scratching


  • Dermatitis


  • Red-orange bumps/hives on the skin


Chiggers as vectors:

In the United Kingdom, chiggers are not thought to be a problem where diseases are concerned. However, they are considered to be dangerous vectors in East Asia and the South Pacific due to a bacterium that they carry, which causes scrub typhus (Japanese river disease).

Treatment:

Bathing your dog should get rid of chiggers. Oatmeal shampoos have been known to relieve irritation and itching, as have green tea rinses. However, dog-safe antihistamines are most widely recommended in order to reduce the symptoms of allergic reactions, lessening the discomfort and irritation.

If bathing does not remove the chigger infestation, you may need a more aggressive treatment such as anti-parasitical drugs, which can be obtained from your local vet.
Do not attempt to get rid of chiggers by applying nail polish to the rashes; this method stems from the incorrect belief that chiggers burrow underneath the skin, and therefore nail polish would suffocate them. In fact, the irritation is actually caused by the digestive enzymes injected into the skin.  

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Eleanor

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