Chiggers are an unpleasant bug that you likely won't forget after your first encounter. They're small and difficult to see, often surreptitiously climbing on you and your dog. Within a few hours, Spike will start to feel the itch. Don't worry, there are options, some of them organic, to get rid of them.
It's a myth that chiggers burrow into the skin; they actually are much like fleas and crawl on top of Spike's skin where they bite. Their saliva contains digestive enzymes that break down the skin, and as the skin dies, they feed on the oozing liquid. Once Spike has picked up chiggers, you will begin to notice him itching excessively with little red bumps on his skin. If you regularly treat him for fleas and have ruled out allergies, consider chiggers as the potential cause, especially if you have taken Spike to a wooded area or if he has been exposed to areas with tall or thick vegetation.
A popular wives' tale recommended using nail polish on the red bites. You do not want to use nail polish on Spike. There are other, more natural ways to get rid of the chiggers on your pet.
Regular bathing will help wash away chiggers. After a long walk or a hike through the woods, give Spike a bath. If you notice him itching, consider an oatmeal or green tea bath. You can use an oatmeal-based shampoo or add about 1/3 cup of colloidal oatmeal (or finely ground oatmeal) to warm bath water to help soothe the itch and wash away the chiggers. You also can use green tea to help soothe the itchy skin; brew a few bags of green tea, dilute it in cold water and pour it over your dog.
If you have Epsom salt on hand, fill your tub with warm water and add up to two cups of Epsom salt. Soak Spike in the water, pouring it over him. Use mild dish soap to bath him, while he is soaking in the Epsom salt. The dish soap will kill the chiggers, and the Epsom salt will help with any itchiness. Consider washing Spike's leash and collar, as well to flush away any chiggers.
- Ultimate Chigger Bite Relief Formula: Uncovered - Chigger Bite Treatment Formula ; Justin Case: 2010
- Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Debra M. Eldredge DVM and Liisa D. Carlson DVM: 2007
- Why A Colloidal Oatmeal Shampoo Is Best For Your Dog’s Itchy Skin; KCJones
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images