This is the time of year when harvest mites (Neotrombicula autumnalis) can cause skin problems to both dogs and cats.
Harvest mites are tiny mites living in dense vegetation, that eat plants and even tinier insects. However their bright orange larvae feed on both dogs and cats, frequently causing skin irritation.
The disease is seasonal, occurring mostly during summer and autumn. On warm days in late summer until the first frosts of winter, they climb up long grass and bushes and when they get the chance they jump onto dogs and cats. They will feed for 2 – 3 days, enlarging in size as they do so. They can just be seen by the naked eye as orange dots. Often though, they have gone before you notice and in those cases all you can do is treat the itch that they leave behind. After feeding they drop to the ground where they develop into adults.
Harvest mites have most likely been introduced to Corfu island during recent years. The first documented case on the island was reported in 2010 and we have been seeing more and more cases ever since.
Diagnosis is made by observation and identification of the larvae through the microscope. Your vet will have to take a skin scraping to see the larvae and make a definitive diagnosis. It is best to take your pet to the vet as soon as you see any suspicious signs as the larvae can drop off quite quickly.
Treatment and prevention is easy, but in some cases supportive anti-inflammatory or antibiotic treatment may be needed, due to the severe inflammation that the mites may cause.