Best Ways to Treat Chiggers in Pets
Chiggers are little parasites that are incredibly difficult to spot and can cause some serious skin issues for your pet. Chiggers are the larvae of harvest mites, and a sure sign of infection is when you notice itchy red bumps on your pet accompanied by excessive scratching. Serious bites may turn into large red blisters.
Chiggers are only about 1/50th of an inch long, so get out your magnifying glass to take a closer look if you suspect chiggers. They especially love to infect pets that spend a lot of time outdoors and are a top cause of dog skin problems.
Chiggers also love warm and wet conditions. The most likely time of year your pet could be infected is when playing in dewy grass in the spring and summertime.
How to treat a chigger infestation
There’s a common misconception about chiggers that they burrow into your pet’s skin. This leads some owners to try and suffocate the chiggers by applying nail polish to the wounds. This just simply isn't true, though. Chiggers actually live on the surface of the skin and inject a digestive enzyme that decomposes a tiny section of skin that they then feed on.
Applying nail polish will only make your pet’s itching worse! Instead, follow these tried and tested methods to treat an infection:
Keep your pet clean
This is a great way to stop an infestation early. If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors make sure you bathe them regularly as this can wash away an infestation early and soothe any itchy areas.
Chiggers particularly love hiding in your cat’s ears, so make sure you clean your cat’s ears frequently too. Your vet can show you how to do this safely and it’s a great way to prevent other types of ear mites in cats. Dogs can be affected too, though, so make sure you regularly check for any ear mites in dogs too.
These are a popular way to soothe your pet's itchy skin. It's as easy as cooking up some instant or quick oats and rubbing them gently into the affected areas of your pet while you bathe them.
You can also grind up some oatmeal in a blender until it reaches the same consistency of flour. Then fill the bathtub with warm water, dissolve the oatmeal flour into the water and let your pet soak for about 10 minutes. You could also add some green tea to the bath which helps soothe them further.
Apply camomile lotion
This is a nice, quick solution that helps to relieve the itching. Camomile is a pink, chalky substance that you can rub gently into the itchy areas. This might not remove the chiggers but will definitely ease the itching symptoms.
Try an Epsom salt bath
Fill the bathtub with warm water and add about one cup of Epsom salts for every gallon of water. The Epsom salts will help soothe your pet’s skin and reduce itching symptoms. There’s growing evidence Epsom salt bath may also help with your pet’s allergies and relieve any muscle aches and pains too.
However, make sure your pet doesn’t drink any of the Epsom salt bathwater as this can disrupt their digestive system.
You can add aloe to the bathwater, much as you would with oatmeal or Epsom salts, or you can apply it directly to your pet’s skin. Some research suggests that aloe may in fact speed up the healing process of skin rashes caused by bites and irritations.
Using insect repellant
There are a growing number of off-the-shelf insect repellants and parasite sprays you can apply directly to your pet’s skin. These can prove very effective in not only killing chiggers but also a host of other parasites.
As these repellents are chemical solutions, you should take care not to spray any of the solution on your pet’s face and wear rubber gloves when applying the treatment.
Remember though, if you’re not sure what type of parasite is causing your pet’s discomfort, or you’re unsure about trying any of the remedies above, always take your pet to the vet and get their advice first.
Your pet may need treatments or additional medicines, especially in cases of severe infestation. Also, make sure you have up to date dog or cat health insurance to cover any expensive treatments.