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Scratching dog? It could be chiggers

Chiggers will make a dog scratch like crazy
Chiggers will make a dog scratch like crazy
Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Uh-Oh, your dog is scratching and itching like crazy! Your first thought is that Fido has fleas and you start to search for the little black jumping specks. If there is no sign of fleas, and your dog is still itching, it could be chiggers.

Did your mother ever yell at you, "Get off the ground, you'll get chiggers?" Your dog can get chiggers as well, especially if you take them for walks in grassy dog parks, the woods or even in your own back yard.

You might even remember that your Mother's cure was to dab nail polish on the offending red spot. You looked like you had chicken pox, but the itch went away, right? Do not do this to your poor dog! There are a few other, less messy ways to deal with a dog that is scratching because he has chiggers.

Myth about Chiggers

Some people think chiggers burrow under the skin and drink blood to survive, much like a flea. Chiggers actually live on top of the skin and bite. Their bite and saliva breaks down the skin because it has digestive enzymes in it. As the skin dies, they feed on that oozing liquid. Yuck, huh?

Chiggers do not magically appear in your lawn. They do, however live in wooded areas and in tall vegetation. You or your dog may bring them back to your lawn after being on walks. Since the chigger lives on top of the skin, scratching may fling them off, and they will be waiting to find another host. Keeping your lawn cut short does not help if chiggers have been deposited there.

Chigger bites do not cause illness, or infections. It is the intense scratching to relieve the itch that can lead to the bite becoming infected. The best thing to do for a dog that has chiggers or bites is to sooth the itch.

Easing the Dog's Itch Naturally

Regular bathing will help with the itch and will wash away any chiggers on the dog’s skin. It is important to bath your dog if you have had a recent trip to the woods, or anyplace where he romped in tall weeds. It is easier to examine the skin for signs of chiggers, fleas and ticks that the dog might have picked up when he is wet.

If the dog is already showing signs of itching, bath her in an oatmeal based shampoo, or add some oatmeal to the bath water. Be sure to rinse the dog thoroughly because any traces of shampoo left behind can add to the itching.

You can also rinse the dog in a cool bath of green tea. Brew a couple of green tea bags, dilute it slightly with cold water and pour it over the dog. The green tea will help to soothe the itch. If the dog continues to scratch rub the offending spot with coconut oil. It will help with the itching and the irritation. It won’t hurt if Fido licks it off either.

Regular brushing will help dislodge any chiggers that your dog has picked up. It also keeps the dog's natural oils distributed. Chiggers generally search for a spot on the dog's skin that is not in the healthiest condition. Keeping your dog’s skin and coat clean, brushed and healthy will help fight chiggers, fleas and ticks.

This article was originally published by this author on a now closed Yahoo site. Rights reverted back to author upon site closure.

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