Harvest mites: Causes and treatments

46 CommentsThursday, 27 September 2018  |  Kate

Why is my dog itching so much right now?

As autumn approaches, a lot of dog owners might find that their pets are itching more than usual and dogs with skin problems are not uncommon. This is commonly due to Harvest Mites which are particularly active during the seasonal change and can be a common cause of skin problems on dogs around this time.

What is a harvest mite?

Harvest Mites, in their six-legged larval stage, feed on warm blooded animals, swarming as an infestation. They're only a problem during this stage but can cause considerable discomfort to your dog and can be recognised as red dust clinging to your dog's hair. If left untreated they can cause skin conditions dogs can have trouble dealing with.

How does it make my dog itch?

The itching dogs may experience from Harvest Mites is due to how the larvae feed. The mites inject a digestive enzyme into a dog's skin. This liquefies the skin which the mites feed on, usually feeding for around 2-3 days before dropping off, increasing by 3-4 times in size. Dogs with skin problems could have their conditions worsened by an infestation of Harvest Mites.

Where do Harvest Mites come from?

Harvest Mites are found across the UK, usually in dense foliage like long grass, bushes and plants and are most active during the day in dry and sunny conditions. However they're usually confined to small areas. To avoid the mites, walk your dog early in the morning and stay out of long grass.

When will my dog stop itching?

Harvest Mites usually attack your dog where there is little hair and better access to the skin. If your dog is riddled with these chiggers, itching usually begins a few hours after infestation, lasting for up to several weeks. In a few cases scratching, rubbing and biting can lead to hair loss or scurf or more serious skin problems on dogs. If the skin becomes damaged your dog is also at risk of bacterial infections and other skin condition dogs can get. The damage done by Harvest Mites can also be exacerbated by allergic reactions to the mites' fluid.

How do I treat it and what with?

Use this effective Skinny Dip Shampoo treatment made by CSJ. Massage it into your dog's coat, leave for a few minutes then rinse out. Also use CSJ's fragrant Skinny Spray before you go on walks (when mites are most likely to be picked up) to top up your dog's protection between washes. The spray will then work its magic to protect your dog from mites during your walk.

If that wasn't enough use Ekoneem Organic Neem Oil, which you can rub onto your dog. All of these products are fast acting and reduce itching immediately.

How do they work?

The Ekoneem, the Skinny Dip shampoo, and the Skinny Spray all contain one main ingredient: Neem Oil, which is a naturally occurring compound called Azadirachta Indica. As the most abundant and effective compound found in the Neem tree (a relative of mahogany), Neem Oil is produced by the tree to protect it from harmful insects. It is used as a miticide (an agent that exterminates mites) because it affects the hormonal system, the reproductive system and feeding patterns of insects. It is also effective as a fungal treatment which can help clear up any fungal problems for dogs with skin problems.

The Skinny range also have added health benefits for your dog as they contain certified organic ingredients, including: Ivy, Arnica, Elder, Mallow, Lime, Cucumber, Neem, Lavender, Lemongrass, Rosemary, and Sage Oil.

Here's what they do:

  • Itch-relieving/painkilling actions: Ivy
  • Anti-bacterial properties: Ivy, Lime, Rosemary
  • Anti-fungal properties: Ivy, Lemongrass, Rosemary
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Arnica, Elderflower
  • Antioxidants: Mallow, Cucumber, Rosemary
  • Antiseptics: Arnica, Rosemary
  • Wound healing actions: Elderflower, Mallow, Lime and Sage Oil

Lavender also calms the nerves and stimulates blood flow, while Rosemary can boost hair stimulation and is effective against scurf. Thanks to the Neem Oil present in these products they will help stave off infections, sooth sore patches and wounds, reduce itching within hours, and stimulate hair growth.

Christine Eldridge
Thursday, 13 March 2014  |  16:44

I have used Billy no Mates very successfully for sometime now on our 2 dogs. As well as Verm-x for worms, this was proved to be safe by lung and worm egg count testing. I would have no hesitation in recommending both products.

Friday, 15 August 2014  |  10:28

Thanks very much for your feedback, Christine. I really appreciate it as do potential switchers over to a natural product. It can be really daunting making a switch but we know it works very well. Glad you like it.

Sue Redshaw
Monday, 1 September 2014  |  22:28

Hi, Kate
I have two Labs who have been very itchy this Summer. I have applied Advocate. I can't detect any fleas on them. I can't see any harvest mites either. Anyway I have bathed both of them with the Skinny Dip Shampoo, which made a small improvement. I have also been using the Skinny Spray. As they are itching mainly round their necks, I have sprayed the oil on my fingers and then rubbed it into their fur to avoid getting it in their eyes. They are also itching on their feet so I have sprayed them as well. Still itching, so have bathed Sadie again today but she is still scratching! Help!

Ross Morrell
Monday, 26 June 2017  |  18:51

Try Frontline Spray especially when they are already infested. My Alaskan malamute breaks out in dark black thick scabs on paws, lower legs, face, ears and head. Cover them generously with spray and should see improvement in just a couple of days. I also try use the spray as a preventative at each change of season

Gill Pearce
Tuesday, 25 September 2018  |  15:38

An allergy by the sound of it

Wednesday, 1 October 2014  |  10:46

Hi Sue

Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry your dog is still itching. Have you had a look at diet? Have you had her checked out at the vet? Some diets can cause real problems, it all depends on ingredients. If you need any more information just email me kate@myitchydog.co.uk

Wednesday, 8 October 2014  |  20:31

Hi Kate, have an itchy dog tried your neem bar and various other stuff querying mange now but reluctant to use advocate does your skinny dip get rid of mites or just repel them if you haven't already got them. Look forward to hearing from you x

Wednesday, 8 October 2014  |  20:38

Hi Karen. The Skinny Dip will get rid of what's on the dog but you could go on to Billy No Mates rather than Advocate permanently (with a break in the cold winter weather). It's great on fleas, ticks and mites. Hope that helps.

Karen Navarrete
Thursday, 16 October 2014  |  10:34

what would you recommend for harvest mites treatment on a cat. Nothing else from the vet seems to be helping

Monday, 20 October 2014  |  10:07

Hi Karan. Neem is fine to use on cats as it's not an essential oil. You do need to use it sparingly even so.

Two ways to do it: One, put a blob of neem oil on the back of your cat's neck where you would apply a spot on and they can't get to it. And two, mix a five to one ratio with warm water and a drop of shampoo to mix it then spray onto your hand and rub right into your cat. They won't thank you for it straight away but do it for a few days and your harvest mites should be a thing of the past! Also wash their bedding and spray that too.

Lottie Taylor
Thursday, 1 September 2016  |  10:30

Hi there think my cat has harvest mites used Neem on them this morning by shampoo and spray is that the skinny dip or.... Something else

Monday, 5 September 2016  |  13:59

Hi Lottie

Thank you for your comment.

The Skinny Shampoo & Spray are not safe to use on cats due to the essentials oils.

If your cats will allow you to bath them then you can use the Ekoneem Shampoo bar which will help get rid of the mites they currently have and soothe their itchy skin.

Continue to use the Neem Oil as much as you can, the more you use it the more it will help. it may be worth you looking at purchasing the Emulsifer and the Trigger spray bottle so you can make up the Ekoneem Spray which will mean you can mist this over the cats to help repel any more mites from coming on and help to reduce to the current mites.

If you'd like some more information then please email me but the products I have suggested above should really help.

Best wishes


Glynis Edworthy
Thursday, 13 August 2015  |  23:31

I am pulling my hair out with my 6yr old boxer dog with his skin problems he used to bite his feet till they red and sore but then that stopped then we turned to itching his chin and now the side of his face making it sore and bleeding ive spent a fortune at the vets and all they give him is antibiotics and steroids which I think hes having too many of ive just bought your cider apple vinegar ekoneem oil and neem and rosemary shampoo and I'm going to try to get to grips with can you tell me how many times a week to give him the vinegar and have you any more ideas I could try
many thanks

Friday, 14 August 2015  |  14:45

Hi Glynis

Have you looked at diet? It might be that. But it's a massive subject, give me a call on 01903 256373 to discuss.

Otherwise shampoo once a week, leave it on for up to ten mins. Use the Eko once a day too. Add the ACV to food daily.


Sharon Wilkes
Wednesday, 19 August 2015  |  13:07

do pups really need carbohydrates in their diet! or is it ok but with the least amount. Our pup was scratching mainly in stomach area and we got billy no mates and yumega+ oil also soap from yourselves. we have been giving it faithfully since we received it but the itching kept on so took her to the vet. after trying anti histimin and cream there was no change. meanwhile we changed her food but the itching still progressesd, so we took her back to the vet who then told us she had a bacterial infection so steroids and antibiotics were given, we had noticed that all the food contained RICE and or POTATO so we now have her on a food that is 70% meat and 30% veg but the vet insist they need carbs.i know she is on these tablets but her skin has cleared up beautifully but beacause she would not eat one of the other foods containing rice we have been giving her salmon and vegetables we prepared ourselves so could it be that it is a mix of the tablets and diet or tablets alone. I know this is a bit long winded but it is this carbs thing that I would like to get to the bottom of.

Jean Bill
Saturday, 5 September 2015  |  22:11

No they don't need it!
It obviously causes your dog problems.

Monday, 7 September 2015  |  15:47

Dear Jean

It is well established that many dogs do just fine eating carbs and can tolerate it well. It just has to be the right type. I wouldn't feed kibble because of what the cooking process does to carbohydrates but see nothing wrong at all with complex carbs you give yourself.

Remember, there is no other species with a greater range of animal types than the dog so it's a case of working out what works for your dog.

Monday, 7 September 2015  |  15:45

Hi Sharon

It's good to get it all down!

I think if her skin has cleared up using home cooked food and your 70/30 food they you're doing fine.

In the home cooked you can add complex carbs; sweet potato mash, quinoa, whole pearl barley. They contain excellent vitamins and essential minerals.

That should not aggravate her skin.


Tuesday, 25 August 2015  |  21:13

I treated my dogs for fleas with advocate, and checked, and they ahve all gone, but they are still scratching like crazy. It has not affected their coat, but just bought a new flea treatment as had never heard of harvest mites. How do you get rid of them??

Tuesday, 25 August 2015  |  22:29

Hi Chloe

It could be mites or, if the fleas have bitten, flea allergic dermatitis. Both very itchy! Use Skinny Dip shampoo and spray for either one.

Friday, 28 August 2015  |  17:36

Hi I have four dogs- two collies that have been biting themselves for a month now and have bald patches mainly on their tummies and bottom. I have de-flead them and the house, or so I think?One dog has had anti-biotics and steriods but no change as the vet said it was a flea allergy. It is driving me and them mad. I also have one old lab that has been biting herself due to anal gland problems. This has now been sorted out but she is still biting herself. One dog is completely fine. I also have five cats and one of those has been biting himself and is scabby. Please advise me on which product to buy.

Thursday, 3 September 2015  |  0:21

I use frontline once a month on my dog but he has really been scratching badly. Obviously not fleas, do you know does frontline kill harvest mites?

Thursday, 3 September 2015  |  10:21

Hi Sonia

I don't sorry. I know that Skinny spray or shampoo will sort them out and stop the itching too.


Wednesday, 23 September 2015  |  22:04

This summer I found that Frontline seemed to stop working - fleas reappeared within a week (or hadn't died in the first place) so I switched to Advantage. The fleas have gone now. It seems odd to be able to use one chemical continuously without the fleas becoming resistant to it though, so it wouldn't surprise me if it had stopped working on the flea community my dogs had this year!

Lana Rawling
Tuesday, 13 October 2015  |  15:00

Hi, I have successfully treated my dog for mites between his toes using the skinny dip shampoo, Neem spray and ointment, however last night I noticed small brown specs just above the bridge of his nose, and his eyelids look to have mites there too.Will the neem be safe enough to use in that area of his face

Friday, 4 December 2015  |  12:23

Hi Lana

You can't use Ekoneem neat around the eyes or on the eyelids. You can dilute it right down into a good shampoo or in a base oil, veg oil is fine. But I would do the shampoo and a flannel (then he'll close his eyes!)

Friday, 29 July 2016  |  17:37

Hi. I've tried the Ekoneem soap bar on my Cocker Spaniel, but it leaves a very light powdery residue on his fur once he's dry (I make sure he's thoroughly rinsed). I've bathed him using the soap 4 times over the past 2 months, and his itchiness has steadily got worse. Firstly, can dogs catch anything in open water? My boy likes a paddle, particularly on warm days, but his itching has not improved since I started using the soap (which was bought after I noticed his itching, following the paddling). Would the Skinny Shampoo leave the same residue?
He's currently being treated to clear ear mites, could this be causing the itching elsewhere? . His usual bug treatments are all uptodate, and there's no evidence or sign of anything buglike. :-/

Monday, 8 August 2016  |  14:51

Hi Sara

To help stop the itching your dog needs to be thoroughly dried after paddling. Fungus likes wet warm places which causes itching so if he is picking up anything like this when he's paddling then that could be the cause of the itch.

Also you will need to reapply the shampoo bar regularly if he likes to get wet on a regular basis. You cannot use the Ekoneem Shampoo bar too much, the more you use it the more the itch will improve.

We have not heard of the bar leaving a powdery residue before, if you believe it to be the bar then yes you can use the Skinny Shampoo instead, this is used in the same way, try to leave it on for up to 10 minutes for it to thoroughly soak into the skin, help the itch and stop whatever is causing it.

I hope this has helped.

Best wishes


Tuesday, 27 September 2016  |  15:09

My dog has them Around her nose can this product still be used as says avoid mouth area, thanks

Thursday, 29 September 2016  |  11:25

Hi Sara

You can use the Ekoneem Shampoo Bar, this is safe to use around the face and mouth.

Use it as much as you need to, perhaps twice a day to start with, it is so natural and gentle. The more you use it the quicker it will work. Also do a couple of full baths in case the mites start to travel.

If there is anything else I can help you with then please feel free to ask.

Shane Morgan
Wednesday, 22 February 2017  |  20:52

My dog has been diagnosed with mites in her skin, will skinny dip spray and shampoo kill the mites burrowing under the skin

Wednesday, 5 July 2017  |  14:21

They will kill any mites on the surface of the skin but anything which has burrowed will be hard to get. I hope you have been to the vet.

Sam Anto
Friday, 3 March 2017  |  12:27

Home remedies like fresh garlic cloves work the best when it comes to ear mite infestation in cats.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017  |  14:20

I'd have to disagree there. You only want to feed a very small amount of garlic to a cat and I doubt any safe level would be enough to kill mites. Use neem every time.

Thursday, 20 July 2017  |  21:34

how long do these mites live on your dog and where can i buy this shampoo and spray?

Wednesday, 26 July 2017  |  11:49

Hi Sue

They last as long as they need to be on your dog to achieve their aim: A blood meal, laying eggs etc. Also it depends how many are on your dog and if they are revisiting the site where more live. It could be weeks.

Get the Skinny Shampoo and Spray from us. Copy and paste this link into your browser https://www.myitchydog.co.uk/csj-skinny-shampoo-skinny-spray-bundle-offer.html and it will take you straight there. Kate

Monday, 14 August 2017  |  2:22

Is this safe to use on cats I have a cat who has an extreme allergic reaction to harvest mites

Monday, 14 August 2017  |  9:08

Hi Tammy

Use Ekoneem from www.myitchydog.co.uk which is pure neem. The Skinny range contain essential oils which are not good for cats at all.

Put the Ekoneem on the back of the neck, under the chin and base of the tail. Rub it right in, onto the skin and only use a little. Do that a couple of times a week. You can also put it on the tips of the ears on the inside. That will help with ear mites too.


Maureen Lock
Tuesday, 22 August 2017  |  16:52

I've been using Billy No Mates for about 3 months now, but my dogs are completely mad with itching from harvest mites. It is mainly between their toes and pads and on the tummy of my bitch. Will Skinny help?

Tuesday, 22 August 2017  |  20:48

Hi Maureen

Yes Skinny will definitely do the trick. The spray can be put right in between the toes use it a couple of times a day.

Louise Kirby
Wednesday, 1 November 2017  |  10:27

One of my chihuahuas has been having a problem with mites because she loves playing in the long grass and rolling in leaves. Plus she has long fine belly hair and is close to the ground. We have been using neem oil shampoo (the bar) and ekoneem as a salve mixed with coconut oil. It has been working and I am happy to recommend it. My question is, when does the harvest mite season end? Are we just waiting for a good frost?

Wednesday, 1 November 2017  |  13:38

Hi Louise

Glad they're doing their job for your Chihuahua. The season is about at an end now. And it's getting colder so they'll be less of a problem.

You should be able to stop now. The harvest mite season starts early July and ends around the end of October depending on how soon the cold snaps set in.

Thursday, 30 November 2017  |  22:00

Hi. One of my border collies has recently started scratching badly particularly around the armpits, back of legs and is also biting around the rear too. I cannot see any fleas etc plus my other dog seems to be unaffected. We do spend a lot of time in the woods so I'm wondering if it may have been harvest mites although with the recent cold weather they should have died off by now. The itching is steadily getting worse and the only thing I have done o far is bathe him in Dorwest pennyroyal shampoo which is his usual shampoo. DO you think he might benefit from skinny shampoo/spray and/or neeme? He's driving me nuts! ALso I don't want to go to the vet and get steroid creams etc or use spoton as it nearly killed my older dog a couple of years ago. Thanks

Monday, 4 December 2017  |  9:32

Hi Nick

Have you checked for tapeworm and/or blocked anal glands? If he's itching around that area it may be worth getting them checked out.

Also, if they're the armpits which match the back legs you need to check for pain, especially if he's licking those areas a lot.

Otherwise, Skinny spray is great, or Skinny cream, that's probably better actually. It will soothe the itch and help to heal whatever's making him itch. Get them from My Itchy Dog.

What food and treats do they get?


Wendy McKay
Monday, 25 February 2019  |  13:42

Could you please advise if it's safe to spray my Yorkie's paws with Skinny Spray as she was treated for Harvest Mite by Vet a few months back but is still chewing her paws. Many thanks.

Monday, 25 February 2019  |  14:30

Hi Wendy

It's fine to spray on her paws, just make sure to rub it in.