A Simple Look at Chiggers on Dogs

You go on a nice autumn walk with your dog across a freshly cut field thinking all is well, the last thing you’re thinking of are chiggers on dogs.  The next day, however, your dog is scratching up a storm. You don’t see any fleas or flea debris. But there are all these tiny red bumps on your dog’s stomach. The itching is driving your dog crazy. Could it be chiggers?

We are going to go over everything you need to know about chiggers on dogs, and how to treat and prevent these parasites from making your dog an itchy mess!

In this post, I’m going to talk about the life cycle of chiggers, what they look like, and how to get rid of them.

A Simple Look at Chiggers on Dogs

So how do you know if your dog has chiggers? Let’s take a quick look at what chiggers are and why they make our dogs (and us) so itchy.

Chigger Life Cycle- The Basics

Chiggers, also known as berry, storage or itch mites, are a common parasite found in many parts of the world. Scientifically, they belong to the same class as spiders and are related to other mites in the Trombiculidae family.

They are red in color and tend to prefer warm, humid environments.  They are most active in the spring and fall in North America, and are difficult to see with the naked eye unless they are in large groups.

Chiggers have 4 stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, nymph and adult.

It is during the larval phase where chiggers make themselves known to other animals by feeding on their skin cells. It is this activity that causes the welts and itchiness so associated with chigger bites. The nymphs and adults are not themselves parasitic. You can learn more about the biology of chiggers here.

Chigger Bites

The larval form of this parasite clings to your dog’s skin and makes a small tube, called stylostome, into the deeper part of the dermis. Then they use this tube to inject an enzyme into the skin that breaks up the skin cells, allowing them to “drink” the cells and mature to the nymph phase.

Contrary to the common myth, chiggers do not burrow into the skin or feed on blood. They stay on the surface, and drop off when done feeding.

It is this stylostome and the enzymes injected into theskin that cause the noticeable red, raised welts and associated itchiness. These welts can take up to a week to heal and stop itching.

Chiggers on Dogs

So how do you identify if there are chiggers on your dog? You could go to the veterinarian and have them do a skin scraping. This allows them to see the larva under a microscope and confirm the diagnosis. Most of the time, your vet will just skip that step and go straight to medicating the symptoms.

Chigger bites on dogs are most common in areas where there is little fur and are often found on the belly and inside of the legs, around the eyes and even occasionally in the ears (more common with cats). The bites look like a series of raised, red welts that are very itchy.

It is unlikely that you will be able to see the larval chiggers themselves unless there are a lot of them, such as in an ear canal. In that case, they may look like a cluster of red, moving dots, similar to paprika.

You have to look at this video! It’s a helpful way to identify and treat bites

Before you head to the vet, there are a few things you can do at home to identify and treat the symptoms.

How to Treat Chiggers on Dogs

The good news is that chiggers in North America do not carry any diseases, and your dog will not pass the chiggers on to you or other members of your household.

The first thing you should do if you suspect your dog has chiggers is giving him/her a bath with a good oatmeal shampoo. This will remove the chiggers from your dog, and hopefully soothe their skin.

Use lukewarm water and gently wash the areas where the welts are, being sure to rinse well to remove all of the shampoo. To clean around the eyes, you can carefully wipe with an unscented baby wipe or an approved veterinary skin wipe, if you have any handy.

Don’t use soap and water around your dog’s eyes or in their ears.

Once the mites are removed, it can take up to 7 days for the welts to heal. You can use oatmeal baths or a canine anti-itch spray on the welts for temporary relief. A topical hydrocortisone cream may also help, but be sure to only use small amounts and prevent your pet from licking the medication off. Don’t use sprays or creams around the eyes or in the ears, although you can use them on the ear flap itself.

If you’ve followed the steps above and see no improvement, please bring your dog to a veterinarian. Things to watch for include:

  • Your pet is causing damage to their skin by scratching, biting and/or rubbing at the welts. He/she may need oral steroids to stop the itching, or antibiotics for a secondary skin infection.
  • The welts and itchiness do not subside in a couple of days.
  • You see clusters of moving, red dots in the ear canal. You will want the experts to do an ear cleaning and identify the culprits in this case.

How to Prevent Chiggers on Dogs

The easiest way to prevent chiggers from biting your dog is to use a flea control product that also works on mites. This will kill any chiggers on your dog before they have a chance to cause problems. Frontline Plus, Revolution and the Seresto Flea and Tick collars are all effective at preventing chigger bites.

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17 Facts About Treating Demodectic Mange

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Treating demodectic mange is a long and messy process.  General demodectic mange is different from other forms of mange.  Puppy’s can get it from their nursing mothers.  Sometimes it will clear up on its own.  Treating demodectic mange means treating the whole body.

Treating Demodectic Mange

My dogs itch every once in a while.  Fly bites and dry skin are the two biggest problems for them.  But how do you know when it’s actually something that needs to be seen by a veterinarian?

You’ll know something is seriously wrong because your dog will literally bite and tear at his skin. It’s that uncomfortable.  You need to know the difference between sarcoptic mange, and the 3 subtypes of demodectic mange, before even considering at-home remedies.

 1. Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies)

Sarcoptic Mange is a highly contagious skin condition that can be passed from dog to dog and from dog to human. It’s caused by a circular, eight-legged mite. 

These mites are not able to reproduce on human skin and will die out within 2 to 5 days.  In dogs, however, sarcoptic mange can live on the dog for a long time. You might not even realize your dog has sarcoptic mange until the condition has progressed.

The mites that cause sarcoptic mange live on the surface of the skin and are more easily treated than demodectic mange.


Symptoms of demodectic mange include intense itching, patchy fur loss, skin infections, red and crusty sores (check the elbows, armpits, tummy, ears, abdomen and chest).

2.  Localized Demodectic Mange (Demodicosis)

Localized demodectic mange is typically seen in puppies who are thought to have contracted it from their mother’s milk.  You might recognize localized demodectic mange by exposed patches of skin on the dog’s face or trunk.  The skin could be red, scaly, or appear completely normal in the early stages.


Symptoms of localized demodectic mange include patches of thinning hair, small, hairless patches, usually appears on a puppy’s face but can also occur on the leg or trunk.

3. Demodectic Mange is not contagious.

This type of skin condition (caused by a microscopic, cigar-shaped mite) is not contagious.  The condition and any underlying causes should be reviewed by a veterinarian.

4. Easy Topical Treatment for Localized Mange in Dogs

Your veterinarian can suggest good ointments to apply to the dog’s skin. You want an ointment to help relieve itching and inflammation.

Also good are ointments with antibacterial properties. Again, your veterinarian is the only qualified person to ask. Ask about Goodinol Ointment . 

No ointment can kill the mite’s eggs buried under the skin. Until those eggs hatch and mature, ointment and other treatment will need to continue.

5. Puppies Could Outgrow Demodectic Mange

Puppies aren’t born with top-notch immune function. However, as they grow, their immune systems develop with them. For this reason, it’s said that up to 90% of puppy’s who have demodectic mange will outgrow it within one or two months.

it’s likely that the puppy will outgrow it. In the meantime, however, a treatment option should be discussed with your veterinarian. Demodectic mange leaves the puppy’s skin vulnerable to serious infection.

6. Generalized Demodectic Mange

Puppy’s born with localized demodectic mange will sometimes heal on their own. If the mite persists and multiplies, it will go on to cover the body and that is known as generalized demodectic mange.   This is a more serious, long-term condition that is often hard to treat. Talk to your veterinarian about safe and appropriate treatment.

NOTE: There are various holistic treatments for things like yeast infections on the skin, but they don’t address the underlying condition.

7. One Big Smelly Dog

Generalized demodectic mange affects the dog’s entire body.  This leaves the immune system compromised and open to yeast and bacteria which, in turn, cause secondary skin infections. It’s the secondary skin infections that smell so foul.

8. Less Stress = Fewer Mites

The longer a dog is under stress, the weaker the immune function.  Some ways to improve your dog’s immune function include a balanced diet, up-to-date parasite control, current vaccinations, healthy exercise, and sufficient human interactions.

9. The No-No’s of Cortisone

Cortisone (typically by injection is used to reduce inflammation. It is a steroid that, when administered to a dog with mange, further lowers the immune system.

When the dog’s immune system is compromised it allows the mites that cause demodectic mange to take over.

10. Ivermectin – What It Is

Ivermectin is the medication used to treat head lice, parasitic infections, and mange.  The medication enters the bloodstream and disables the mites’ nervous system. That signals the dog’s white blood cells to attack and kill the mite.

11. The Dangers of Drug Sensitivities

Herding dogs have a mutated gene that causes them to be seriously allergic to certain drugs, including Ivermectin.  Talk to your veterinarian about this risk, even if your dog is a mixed breed.

12. Dog Breeds and MDR1

The following is a list of breeds and the percentage thought to inherit the MDR1 genetic mutation.

Australian Shepherd 50%

Border Collie – <5%

Chinook 70%

Collie 70%

English Shepherd 15%

German Sherperd 10%

Herding Breed Cross 10%

Silken Windhound 30%

Shetland Sheepdog 15%

Mixed Breed 5%

McNab 30%

Long-haired Whippet 50%

13. The Risks of a Genetic Mutation

If you own a dog from the herding breeds, and he/she has the genetic mutation, your dog is at risk of seriously toxic reactions to at least 12 other medications (including Ivermectin). But how do you know if he/she has the mutation? See #14.

14. Testing for the MDR1 Gene Mutation in Dogs

Washington State University has made a gene mutation test available.  At this writing, the cost of a single test was $60, a small price to pay for peace of mind.

If you own one of the herding breed dogs, have him/her tested for the gene mutation. That way, you’ll be able to work with the veterinarian in finding alternative drug therapies. You know the old saying….what you don’t know is more dangerous than what you do know.

15. Home Remedies for Demodectic Mange

Before treating your dog for demodectic mange, make sure to have a veterinarian make the diagnosis first. Speak with him/her regarding the effectiveness of the following holistic treatments.

a) Aloe Vera Plant

b) Neem Oil

c) Tea Tree Oil

d) Lemon-

e) Garlic

A quick, online search will give you a more comprehensive list of home remedies for demodactic mange.  

Keep in mind that “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean safe.  Your veterinarian can work with you to determine the best treatment plan for you. It’s going to be important to remain consistent with whatever options you choose.

16. Demodectic Mange Cure Time

Demodectic Mange in dogs can take three months or more to fully resolve.  The skin will continue to be affected long after the mites have been eradicated. Dead skin and tissue will take some time to heal.

17. Demodectic Pododermatitis

This type of mange happens on the paws and is susceptible to bacterial infections.  This type of mange in dogs is particularly resistant to treatment.

Pododermatitis is the term used to define inflamed paws. This condition can be caused by any  number of things including general allergies, illness, suppressed immune system, cancer, and environmental toxins. The diagnosis of mange with this condition is difficult and requires biopsy.

At the end of the day, your dog’s health is the important thing.  It seems as if there is a general fear of traditional medications. The truth is, traditional medicines used to treat mange (like Ivermectin) can be deadly to herding breed dogs. 

If your veterinarian is at all concerned about that, he/she will likely recommend an alternative to the drug.  The veterinarian might also want (with your consent) to administer a minute dose to test for a reaction before prescribing a full dose.  Please don’t hesitate to talk openly with your veterinarian about any doggie health concerns you have!

I hope you found this post helpful. Mange can be a complicated topic and I want to be notified if I got something wrong. I am not a veterinarian and I cannot diagnose, treat, suggest treatments, or manage any health condition your dog may have.

Mange is only one of hundreds of conditions a dog can suffer from.  Read about the 11 ways to reclaim your dog’s health before you leave and make sure to sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss important dog-health information.  Please share with your followers!

5 Quick Tips on Ear Mites in Dogs

My dog is constantly digging at her ears. Sometimes I think she’s going to dig out the left side of her face. Is it ear mites?  No.  The veterinarian says it’s nothing but a little extra ear wax. The veterinarian told me if it were ear mites, my dog would have a lot of dark brown stuff coming from her ear canal and her ears would be red and sore.

The veterinarian actually took some time to give me a little tutorial on ear mites and I thought I’d share what I learned with you.

I’ve broken down the information under categories to help you find what you’re looking for.

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs

  • excessive, rough scratching at the ear
  • blood blisters from so much scratching
  • fur loss around the site
  • head-shaking
  • restlessness
  • walking in circles
  • fatigue
  • buildup of brown waxy secretions
  • ruptured blood vessels

Take a few minutes to hear what the doctor in this YouTube video has to say about ear mites in dogs.


  • Ear mites live on your dog’s skin and inside the ear canal.
  • Ear mites go through an entire life cycle safely within the comforts of your dog’s auditory system.
  • Mites are arthropods, which means they have jointed legs and skeletons on the outside of the body.
  • These microscopic creatures are distant cousins to spiders and insects.
  • They’re like hippies…free-living.
  • Watch out for them! These guys are pretty contagious. If you have one animal with ear mites, there’s a good chance that any other animals you have, also have ear mites.
  • Under a microscope, ear mites look like tiny white moving specks.
  • Untreated ear mites can eventually lead to deafness.
  • Scabies are the kind of mites that humans can get. They live on the outer-most layer of the skin and cause extreme itching.
  • Mites date back 145 – 166 million years.
  • Ear mites are called Otodectes cynotis.
  • You’re more likely to find ear mites in stray dogs, or in dogs who live with a lot of other animals.

How to Get Rid of Ear Mites in Dogs Naturally

I just want to take a second to say that I’m a firm believer in good ole’ pharmaceuticals. They’re proven and they get the work done. That said, I realize there are a lot of people who prefer to try homeopathic methods first.  So, with that in mind, here are a few things you can try, once your dog has been accurately diagnosed with ear mites.

TIP:  These methods work best after the dog’s ears have been cleaned. When cleaning the ears, be careful not to get into the dog’s ear canal.  It’s easy to forget until your dog gives a yelp!

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water. Soak your dog’s ears using a cotton ball.
  • Combine 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Carefully fill the dog’s ear with half of the mixture.  Gently massage the dog’s ear to make sure the solution gets everywhere.  When you’re finished, your dog will want to shake his head so look out. Take a dry cloth and wipe the dog’s ears dry afterwards. Repeat daily for three weeks.
  • Take 9 drops of yellow dock root extract and mix it with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Using a dropper, gently add a few drops to your dog’s ear and massage. It’s suggested you do this every other day for about six weeks.
  • Use green tea. You’ll need to steep the tea until it’s very strong. Once cooled, use cotton balls to swab the dog’s ears. You could also use a dropper.

These are just a few methods to try. It’s important to remember not to miss a day of treatment.  Those mites are going through an entire life-cycle that takes 3 weeks to complete.  If you’ve ever had a flea infestation, you know how hard it is to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Ear Mites with Medical Intervention

  • One drop of medicine on the dog’s skin.
  • A medicated wash to flush out your dog’s ear.

That’s it.  It’s not even a list! Bring your dog to the veterinarian and get a topical treatment. It’s fast, easy, effective, and probably cheaper in the long run.  Some medications like Revolution and Advantage Multi also treat other problems like heart worms and fleas, American dog tick, and mange.

Your veterinarian will likely suggest the drug Ivermectin, a broad spectrum anti-parasitic, for immediate treatment and a long-term preventative like Revolution.

Ivermectin is used to treat head lice, scabies, and other parasites.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ear Mites:

  • Where do ear mites come from?

If your dog suddenly has ear mites, he or she probably got them from another animal. Ear mites are very contagious.

  • Can I get ear mites from my infected dog?

It’s possible, but unlikely. Wash your hands after handling your dog and make sure to wear gloves when cleaning around the infected ears.

  • What do ear mites look like?

Ear mites can be seen under a microscope. They look like white dots against a backdrop of a dark brown substance. That substance is what’s left-over after the mites have chewed into your dog’s skin. It’s essentially a buildup of dead skin and blood.

  • Will ear mites go away on their own?

Ear mites must be treated. They will not go away on their own.  In fact, a long-term infestation of ear mites can cause permanent damage to the ear and/or deafness.

  • Can I stop it from ever happening again?

You can! Talk to your veterinarian about topical solutions that you can apply monthly. These medications sometimes work to prevent other problems like worms, fleas, and ticks.


In my opinion, it’s best to have your dog’s ears treated by a professional. You never know what underlying conditions your dog might have. Pharmaceutical treatments are very safe when used as directed. More doesn’t equal better.

If you’d prefer to use home-based treatments, monitor how well it is working and don’t miss a treatment.  If the treatments aren’t working, bring your dog to the veterinarian.  Likewise, if you use at-home treatments successfully, but the mites come back, bring your dog to the veterinarian. 

It’s important to treat and then prevent ear mites, fleas and ticks. Keep reading for more information on all of these issues.

Please share with other dog-lovers like you!






7 Ugly Truths About Lyme Disease in Dogs

Did you know that a vaccination against Lyme disease in dogs is no guarantee that they won’t contract the illness?  Even so, it’s important to take every precaution available to help prevent dogs from contracting the disease.

Lyme disease doesn’t go away. Your dog can be treated for active symptoms, but the disease remains in the body for the lifetime of the dog. It’s no different if you or I were infected.

1. Vaccinations Are No Guarantee Against Lyme Disease in Dogs

It’s still important to have your dog vaccinated, and here’s why:

  • Lyme Disease is a common tick-borne disease worldwide.
  • The most common clinical effect of Lyme disease in dogs is inflammation of the joints.
  • Dogs may also suffer from lack of appetite and depression.
  • In some cases, Lyme disease causes damage to the kidneys.
  • Rarely, the disease will progress to the heart and/or nervous system.

2. Not All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease

  • The ticks that carry Lyme disease are the ones that transmit the bacteria known as

    Borrelia burgdorferi.

  • This microorganism is from the Spirochete family and resembles spiral-shaped worms. The only ticks known to carry this bacterium are the Eastern Black-Legged Tick (some call them Deer ticks), and the Western Black-Legged Tick.

    3. Lyme Disease has a Complicated Relationship With  Dogs

  • Lyme Disease in dogs is a complicated situation in which many variables can take place.
  • Veterinarians feel that treating a dog as close to the time of infection as possible reduces the antibodies faster.
  • Lyme Disease doesn’t really ever go away, even with repeated antibiotics.
  • As with people, antibiotics work best when administered less than 48 hours after the bite.
  • Dogs who test positive, but who show no symptoms, are still treated with antibiotics to reduce the antibodies and minimize long-term clinical complications.

4. It’s Rare for a Dog to Die From Lyme Disease

This one surprised me. I always thought the diagnosis of Lyme disease in dogs was a death sentence, but research shows that is not true.

The prognosis is compromised if the bacterium damage the kidneys.  Regardless, your dog is still left with a permanent, painful disease that requires care and the possibility of repeated doses of antibiotics as flare-ups occur.

I suspect most veterinarians would prefer not to extend antibiotic use for fear of antibiotic resistance and further weakening of the dog’s immune system.

5. I Don’t Want to Go Outside Anymore!

I’ve felt like that myself; however, there are lots of things you can do to prevent tick bites from happening.

  • I use a monthly oral medication for my dogs and it works extremely well. The medication is absorbed into the dog’s fatty tissue (especially around the upper body and neck where ticks are most likely to bite). It’s safe for the dogs but fatal for the ticks.
  • Don’t let your dog romp through tall grass and keep your lawn mowed as short as possible.
  • Remember to also treat any cats in your house with topical tick treatments. Outside cats are the worst offenders because they carry ticks into the home, then flick them off with their rough tongues.
  • Check your pets regularly for ticks by combing through the fur. Personally, I take my fingers and run them all around the dogs’ ears neck and back. I check their armpits, groin, and top of the head.

6. Ticks Are Gross And I Don’t Want to Pick Them Off of My Dog!

They are really disgusting creatures and I don’t blame you. But for the sake of your dog, you have to.

Find out how I handled my first experience with ticks here.

  • Use tweezers
  • Grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible
  • Pull up and at a slight angle
  • It’s thought that if you pinch the tick’s abdomen to pull it out, the tick will release more toxins into the dog’s body.

As YUCK as it is, this requires attention. You can’t close your eyes and give it a yank because you could leave the head of the tick embedded in your dog, leaving it open to infection.

7. Check Yourself For Ticks

It’s important to check your clothes and your skin as soon as you enter the house. I’ve had ticks on my ankles just from taking a walk down the street where long grass lines the ditch. Obviously, if you live in a city, this isn’t going to be the case (hopefully!).


  • AT THE DOOR: Remove your hat, jacket, and socks.  Pull your socks inside out and scan for anything crawling. Look on the top and insides of your cap/hat. Lift the tongue of your shoes and look inside and around the shoe opening for ticks.
  • IN THE BATHROOM: Strip down completely. Ticks like to make their way to where there is the most blood flow. Check the back of your knees, buttocks, back, armpits, neck and hair.  Also check behind your ears.


To sum it all up, it’s only the Eastern black-legged tick and the Western black-legged tick that carries the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease.

Remember: Lyme Disease is the most prevalent, but it’s not the only disease carried by ticks.

As mentioned above, clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs includes painful joints, stiff back and/or gait, lack of appetite and depression.

Ticks need to be removed from your pet ASAP. Have your dog vaccinated and tested for Lyme disease, especially if you live in an area where the tick population is endemic.


And finally, the best place to get advice on the best preventative tick treatments for your dog is at the veterinarian’s office.





The Number 1 Fastest Way of Removing Ticks From Dogs

There’s only one right way of removing ticks from dogs and several wrong ways. I’m going to tell you how to do it the right way, but first I want to tell you a quick story about how I overcame my tick phobia.

The fiasco began last spring after letting my dogs roam the forest around my summer camp.   I wasn’t worried…the property is well-fenced and they always come when they’re called.

THIS TIME, they came back with guests. That’s right. Hundreds of ticks.  No exaggeration.


A Bottle of Wine Isn’t Necessary for Removing Ticks From Dogs.

For the record, I’d like to say I did remove the ticks correctly using tweezers and a firm grip close to the mouth part of the tick.  Armed with a bottle of Merlot and a barbecue torch, I set to work. It took hours.

I’d also like to mention that I didn’t use the barbecue torch around my dog. The torch is used to kill the ticks after removal.

Hopefully your experience isn’t nearly so traumatizing.



  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers or special gadgets available at pet stores or the veterinarian’s office. Some veterinarians provide free tick-removal devices.
  2. Grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible, next to the tick’s mouth.
  3. Pull in a quick, clean motion without twisting your wrist.
  4. Afterwards, wipe the area with a sterilized swab to reduce the chance of infection.

Prevention Is Key

The tick population in North America and other parts of the world is on the rise. Only deer ticks (black-legged ticks) carry the dreaded Lyme disease, but all ticks can transmit any number of diseases that you want to avoid.

If you live in an area where the tick population is endemic, make sure to use a topical or oral tick prevention medicine. Ask your veterinarian for the best ones and make sure your pet is in good health before administering the medication.

Tell the veterinarian about any over-the-counter medications you are, or have been, giving your dog.  Some of the prescriptions the veterinarian might prescribe are formulated to treat fleas and worms as well and you don’t want to double-up on those treatments.


Health-care professionals suggest wearing long socks over your pant legs to avoid allowing ticks to attach to your leg. Of course, dogs don’t wear socks so that’s not an option. The best way is to avoid tall grassy areas when ticks are most prevalent in the spring and again in the fall in some places.
The following is a map of tick populations in the United States
Image result for tick map usa
And here is a tick map for Canada


Image result for tick map canada

No matter how many times someone tells you to smother the tick, or touch a flame to the tick’s back, don’t do it. These are myths that could seriously harm your dog. The best way to remove ticks from your dog is the simplest: Pull it out with tweezers being careful to leave the head intact.

IF THE HEAD IS NOT INTACT WHEN YOU REMOVE THE TICK FROM YOUR DOG don’t panic.  You should try to pluck it out with the tweezers. If it’s embedded deeply, the veterinarian might need to remove it.


Don’t forget to sterilize the spot with an alcohol swab. 

And finally, have your dog tested for Lyme Disease. If your dog doesn’t test positive, ask the veterinarian about a vaccination.

Good luck!