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Dog: Harvest Mites

General information

Other common/scientific names: Trombicula autumnalis, Trombicula mites, chiggers

Ectoparasites are parasites that live on the exterior or surface of an animal. The common canine ectoparasites include fleas, ticks, lice and mites. They can transmit various diseases and cause hypersensitivity and skin disorders in animals. Some ectoparasites (mites and lice) spend their entire life on the dog while other ectoparasites (fleas and ticks) spend part of their life cycle in the environment. Fleas, ticks and mites are not species specific, meaning they can infest animals of different species.

Causes

Harvest mite infestation is caused by the skin mite Trombicula autumnalis. These mites are also referred to as chiggers. Harvest mites appear as small, reddish-orange mites about the size of a pinhead. The Trombicula mites can infest and bite dogs, cats and people. Unlike other skin mites, the adult harvest mite does not live on the dog. Rather, the adult mite prefers warm moist areas in the environment where the female lays the eggs. These eggs develop into larvae which then crawl onto the dog, cat or human. It is the larvae which infest and bite the host. These larvae feed off of the skin cells for 2-3 days then drop off the dog and mature into adults in the environment.

Harvest mites are seen in highest numbers during the late summer and fall, especially in grassy areas.

Infection

Dogs acquire harvest mites by coming into direct contact with the larvae in the environment. Dogs, cats and humans with harvest mites are not contagious to each other. However, dog owners will often acquire these skin mites at the same time as their dogs by being in the same environment.

Cardinal symptom

Itching

Symptoms

Harvest mites can cause intense itching from their bites. The ears, face, toes and underneath skin are the most affected areas. The skin can develop red, raised welts where bitten by the mite. In severe cases, dogs may develop a hypersensitivity reaction to the mites which can result in red, scabby areas of skin and hairloss.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of harvest mites includes these three techniques:

  • These mites can be identified by your veterinarian by visual examination. The characteristic reddish-orange dots have the appearance of paprika.
  • A skin scraping should be performed on any itching dog. This sample can be examined under the microscope to identify the harvest mite.
  • Scotch tape can be pressed onto the skin to obtain a sample and then examined with a microscope to identify the mite.
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Abb. GG3PQRMZ: Harvest Mites.
Photograph of harvest mites in the corner of the eye.

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Abb. GG3PRX36: Harvest Mites.
Photograph of harvest mites on the paw.

Treatment

There are several antiparasitic products on the market today for treatment and prevention of harvest mites. These antiparasitics come in oral, dips and topical (spot-on) forms.

Anti-inflammatory medications can be used to help alleviate the itching.

Prognosis

Since harvest mites are easy to treat, prognosis is good.

Prevention

Prevention is best aimed at keeping your dog away from areas of known harvest mite inhabitation.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by www.enpevet.de
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