Have you noticed your pet itching or scratching more than usual this autumn? If you have, you may find that fleas or ticks are not necessarily to blame. In late summer and early autumn, an insect called the Harvest Mite is often the cause of skin problems for pets.
What are Harvest Mites?
Harvest Mites (Trombicula Autumnalis, or ‘Chiggers’) are found across the UK, and live in dense vegetation like bushes or grass. They are most active during the day, in dry and sunny conditions, and in their larval stage they feed on the skin of warm-blooded animals. To avoid an infestation it is worth walking dogs for walks earlier in the morning, or later in the evening, and avoiding any long grass or undergrowth.
How to tell if your pet is infested with Harvest Mite larvae
The larvae collect in areas of the dog’s skin where there is less hair, and the skin is thinner. These areas tend to be closer to the ground, such as the groin, paws and tummy. The mites form a swarm, which almost looks like red or orange-coloured sand or dust. They feed by injecting an enzyme into the animal’s skin, which then liquefies the skin so that the mite can eat it. These punctures can form raised red lumps, which may ooze or have a crust on top.
Your dog will usually start to itch a few hours after coming into contact with Harvest Mite larvae, and they can cause the animal considerable discomfort. Mites usually feed for around 2-3 days before dropping off, but the itching can last for several weeks.
Because the Harvest Mites cause such intense itching, you will notice your pet continually scratching, biting or rubbing itself against objects to get some relief for its skin. The scratching can cause hair loss and skin irritation and in extreme cases the skin may become broken, which can lead to skin infections. Some pets may also be allergic to the enzyme that the mites inject into the skin, which can cause allergic symptoms such as rashes or wheals.
How do I treat it?
Exner Petguard Spray Treatment is a completely eco-friendly product that relieves your pet of mites, as well as fleas and ticks. It can also be used in the home, and as a preventative treatment. It works without using chemicals or toxic substances, so it is harmless for you and your pet.
If you have a dog that has a suspected mite infestation, we also recommend Laboratoire Demavic Flea & Insect Repellent Shampoo,
which not only gently eliminates mites and other biting insects and prevents further infestation, but can also help to calm any skin irritation.
For pets that have been scratching a lot you may like to try adding some Hokamix Skin & Shine Nut Oil into their food as a supplement. The oil contains Omega-3 and Omega-6, and natural nut oils, which can soothe and nourish the skin, and aid recovery after an infestation.
Before using any of these products, we recommend consulting your vet, especially if your pet seems unwell or if you have any concerns that its skin may have become infected.