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What are harvest mites?

From late August into October, these pesky pests can make our canine and feline friends feel far from 100%. So what’s happening when harvest mites attack, how can you help to prevent the problem and soothe the scratching if the worst happens?

Harvest mites (Trombicula autumnalis) cause seasonal skin challenges for dogs during late summer and autumn. The first active stage in the life cycle of the harvest mite is the six-legged larva – and this is the tiny pest that causes big problems for our pets.

Harvest mite larvae are active during the day, especially when it’s dry and sunny. They congregate in large groups on small clods of earth, long grass, matted vegetation, and even on low bushes and plants. When harvest mites come into contact with any warm blooded animal, they’ll swarm on and congregate around your dog’s front legs (on their chest and in their ‘armpits’), on tummies and necks, and around the genitals.

What causes harvest mites to itch?

Unlike fleas and other parasites, harvest mite larvae don’t burrow into the skin or suck blood. Instead, they feed by thrusting small hooked fangs into the skin surface. Once attached, they inject powerful digestive enzymes which break down the skin cells. Once the cells disintegrate, the larva sucks up its liquid lunch. The mite will inject and suck at the same site for 2-3 days, until it is full – and has grown 3-4 times in size.

Did you know?

Itching is actually caused by your dog’s reaction to the harvest mite’s digestive enzymes, and irritation levels vary from dog to dog.

You may notice your dog scratching within 3 to 6 hours of exposure to harvest mites – but the worst news is that the itch can continue for several weeks afterwards.

As well as rubbing, biting and scratching, harvest mites can lead to scurf and hair loss in some dogs. If the skin is damaged due to lots of scratching and nibbling, affected areas can also become infected with bacteria.

What do harvest mites look like?

Keep your eyes peeled for tiny reddish or orange larvae. These nasty little biters are around 0.2mm long, and are found all over the UK.

Heavy infestations may be sharply localised – even to the extent of being abundant in one garden and absent from others in the same area. They’re equally at home in the countryside, in town gardens and in parks. In fact, there are local variations of the Trombiculidae family all over the world.

How to spot an infestation

It’s not easy to spot a harvest mite infestation, because the pesky pests are so small. If your spot your dog scratching, spread the hairs and look carefully at the skin – if there’s reddish or orange coloured ‘dust’ attached to the hairs or the skin, your pet might have harvest mites.

Preventing harvest mites

Because harvest mite larvae are only active during the day, you can reduce the risk of harvest mites by modifying your pet’s routine. Consider going for walkies early in the morning or after dusk. If possible, avoid long grasses and vegetation, and keep moving – the worst infestations tend to happen when pets (and people) are sitting or lying down in a sunny spot in the middle of the day!

Help with Harvest Mites

Unfortunately, there’s no licensed treatment for harvest mites available in the UK. However, some flea treatments are said to be effective – it’s best to get advice on which is most suitable for your dog from your vet.

If left untreated, the larvae will feed for a few days then drop off. Unfortunately though, the itchy symptoms can last for several weeks or even months, so the sooner you start helping your pet to cope with the problem, the better


Remember Remember the 5th of August?........
No we haven't gone mad. Did you know it takes up to 3 months to desensitise your dogs to noises - Like Fireworks!
Today marks 3 months to to 5th November, so a good time to start working on this. 
Not sure how to do this? You can always ask for our advice and call us on 01279 654108.

We recommend the Sounds Scary CD's or Audio Tracks.
(available for free via the Dogs Trust on
Please also read the booklet
A few tips:

Desensitisation (Page14)
The first step in therapy is to neutralise your dog’s reaction to the sounds. Once this is
complete your dog will show a neutral reaction to sounds played at a level that would
previously have produced feelings of fear.
1. Set the Hi-Fi volume to zero.
2. Press play, and wait for 15 seconds.
3. Slowly increase the volume until you see the first signs of recognition that there is a noise, such as a slight movement or twitch of your dog’s ears. Do not turn the volume up loud enough to cause fear, anxiety or agitation.
4. Once you have found this starting level, make a note of the volume setting so that you can reliably return to that volume when you repeat the exercise.
5. Play the sounds at this starting level for 5-10 minutes, 3-4 times each day.
6. Once your dog shows no reaction at all to the sounds played at this level, you can increase the volume slightly until you see signs of recognition again (a twitch of the
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6, gradually increasing the sound volume and playing the sounds repeatedly until your dog shows no reaction.
8. Over a period of weeks you will reach the stage where your dog will not react to the sound stimuli even when set at moderate to full volume. Every dog is different
and this may take several weeks.

If at any point in desensitisation your dog reacts fearfully to the sound, you must act in a happy and relaxed manner so that your dog can see that there is nothing to worry about. 
Resist the temptation to go to your dog to reassure it as this may be misinterpreted as you being worried and increase negative perceptions of the sounds.
Stop the session immediately and set the volume lower for the next long session because you have tried to progress too quickly.

Desensitise each of the first three tracks before beginning counter-conditioning with it.

Counter-conditioning (Part 1)
In this stage of therapy we want to teach your dog to associate the noises you are playing with a pleasant experience. At the end of this stage your dog will become excited and happy when you play the sounds even at a loud level.
1. Get the sounds ready to play one of the long tracks, set at the starting volume you originally tested. Use the pause button to hold the sounds ready to play.
2. Prepare your dog’s meal or get a toy ready for a game. Your dog will appear excited but don’t start the game or give the food. Instead, sit down to do something calm, like reading, for a few minutes.
3. Your dog will probably be confused! Once your dog has calmed down press play,
without letting your dog see what you have done (it is best to use a remote control
if possible).
4. As soon as you hear the noises put the food down for your dog, or start to play the game. Leave the sounds playing, but remember that if your dog reacts fearfully to
the noise you must stop the sounds immediately and adjust the volume before trying again.
5. As soon as your dog finishes eating or you stop the game, you must stop the sounds.
6. Repeat this exercise daily until your dog looks excited when the noises start.
7. Once you are confident that your dog has accepted the lowest level of sound and is happy when the sounds are playing, then the volume can be increased and the
process repeated. Turn the volume up in the same way as you did before.
8. Eventually you should reach the point at which your dog associates the sound with
feeding and playing and responds to it with pleasurable anticipation every time he
hears the noise.


While stock lasts we have a 25% offer on all royal canin life stage foods. Limited time offer once they are gone, their gone. Only bags with a 25% off sticker on them are still included in this offer


please be aware that Rye Street is shut from today (23st July) for 6 weeks. please allow extra travel time to reach us. The closure is from Foxdells Lane to the new roundabout at the Mountbatten Indian (previously red white and blue pub). You can still reach us from town via Rye Street


Everyone knows it's hot, everyone is lethargic, even our pets. But our staff members have seen people walking their dogs at the hottest part of the day! including some with ball throwers and brachycephalic (short nosed like bull dogs/pugs) breeds.
Please do not take your dog out in the middle of the day! go early in the morning and late at night once its cooling down!
Also dogs feet on the pavements can get really damaged. If you can't hold the BACK of your hand on the ground for at least 10 seconds it's too hot for your dog unless walking them with boots.


Mobility Matters Arthritis Awareness Month

Pets may become lame with severe osteoarthritis, but signs can be more subtle in some pets, such as difficulty getting up, reluctance to climb stairs or jump, slowing down and becoming less energetic. These signs are often being confused with a pet just 'getting old.' As the disease nearly always causes pain and stiffness, dogs may not be as keen to exercise as they would have done in the past. And cats often do not jump on higher places and often have a change (reduction) in grooming behaviour. They may show lameness or obvious stiffness (especially after long periods of rest). Commonly this stiffness improves with commencement of exercise. Some dogs may even lick continuously at an underlying painful joint – occasionally causing unwanted patches of saliva staining. Some animals will show obvious signs of pain, whereas others may just become slower or grumpier.
Symptoms are often more severe in affected pets in colder, damper conditions. Sometimes it is not until we trial treatment for chronic pain that we appreciate how severely a pet is affected.


Reasons to be careful about giving your dog bones:

Recently we had a 5 year old German Shepherd dog brought in having fractured her tooth chewing on a large bone. As you can see from the picture the tooth was broken into three parts which must have been very painful and the tooth had to be removed.

Fractured and worn down teeth are problems that we see relatively commonly in dogs that chew on bones or other hard substances and can cause pain, problems eating and increased risk of dental infections.

Eating bones, especially cooked bones, can also cause other problems such as obstructions in the oesophagus (food pipe), stomach or intestines if they are swallowed in large pieces or perforations if sharp fragments are swallowed. Both of these conditions can be life threatening and require major surgery to treat.

If large amounts of bone are chewed into small pieces and eaten then they can build up and cause severe constipation which can also require an anaesthetic to clear.

Whilst of course these problems aren't seen in every dog that eats bones we do see them relatively commonly. Because of this we would advise against giving your dog bones to eat and instead give them softer dental chews to still allow them to get the enjoyment and benefits of chewing things without the risks of bones. If you have any questions about the best chews for your dog or how to care for their teeth at home then please feel free to contact us.


One of our nurses Kate had to use the out of hours emergency on Saturday afternoon for her own dog Gus.

Gus became really unwell Saturday about 2 hours after his walk. His leg was 4 x the size and he couldn’t weight bare at all. 
He was rushed into us to the out of hours emergency vet, who immediately admitted him for X-rays and pain relief.
We clipped up his leg to find a huge bruise but there was nothing obviously on the X-rays.
He was hospitalised for 4 days on 3 types of iv antibiotics, pain relief and iv fluids as the bruising and swelling became a lot worse.
We think he may have been bitten by a snake or stung by something.

Thankfully he was discharged yesterday and is recovering well at home


Every 3 months we get a newsletter printed, which can be collected from the hospital.

These newsletters are also freely available to download from our website and facebook page as PDF files: