In today’s blog, we’re talking about harvest mites on dogs and how you can support them in sorting this itchy problem. We’ll also provide you with some tips to help you avoid them, too.
When do harvest mites affect my dog?
Late summer - between the end of August October these pests can give your dog a hard time. Essentially, they can cause skin irritations for your dog later in the summer months and into the autumn. The “six-legged larva” is the name of the tiny pest that’s able to really aggravate your dog - they’re actually relatives of spiders, believe it or not.
“The six-legged larval stage is the only stage that feeds on warm blooded animals, like dogs and other furry mammals like rodents”
So where do these harvest mites typically hang out?
Normally, these pests gather in small lumps of earth, long grass, rough vegetation, and other plants and low bushes. So really, most places you might take your dog for an otherwise relaxing, fresh-air walk! When they sense your dog’s presence they typically grab a hold of their front legs - around their chest and armpits. Also around your dog’s tummy and even their genitals - especially on thinly haired areas of skin
Why do harvest mites cause your dog to itch?
The harvest mite larvae feed on the body fluids of your dog, they bite and cause intensely itchy, red, inflamed skin. So it’s quite an awful experience for your dog to go through during the warmer months.
Now, unlike other parasites, they don’t bury themselves into your dog’s skin or suck blood. Instead, they pierce the skin with their small, hooked fangs and inject powerful enzymes that digest skin cells.
Signs to look for when your dog’s been bitten by a harvest mite
The itching behaviour is caused by your dog’s reaction to the harvest mites’ digestive enzymes they’ve just injected. Within a short time - probably 3 to 5 hours, your dog will begin to show symptoms of itching if they’ve been bitten. Aside from intense biting and scratching, these little pests can cause scurf in your poor pooch and hair loss, too. Be aware that getting bitten by a harvest mite can also cause the affected areas to become infected with harmful bacteria if the skin is damaged.
If you notice a reddish or orange-coloured ‘dust’ attached to your dog’s hairs or on their skin, they might already have some harvest mites attached themselves.
How to avoid harvest mites
Simple things like walking early in the morning or late in the evening will certainly lower your dog’s chances of coming into contact with these pesky mites! And it goes without saying, but avoid walking through long grasses too when possible. Also, encourage your dog to move and not hang around in grassy areas as this will help limit the chances of mites clinging to your dog.
How do I treat my dog’s harvest mite bites?
Your first course of action should be to get advice from your vet. They will usually recommend using an antiparasitic shampoo, spray or other treatment to kill the mites. Since you can’t completely prevent your dog from getting harvest mites, something you CAN do to help support their immune system which directly controls how their body controls natural histamine levels and reactions to skin irritations.