Mites on Dogs

Mites on Dogs

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

Mites on Dogs

Mites are one of the most common parasites that affect the lives and well-being of our furry friends. A mite infestation can cause discomfort and irritation to the dog’s skin. Therefore, understanding what mites are, how they affect dogs, and what steps can be taken to manage and prevent their impact is crucial for every dog owner.    

In this article, we will learn more about dog mites, how dogs get mites, and detailing the signs and symptoms of infestation every dog owner should recognize. Additionally, we'll investigate available treatment methods and, more importantly, share preventive measures to keep them at bay. Let's get started!

What Are Mites and How Do They Affect Dogs? 

Dog mites are tiny microscopic arachnids that are barely visible to the naked eye. These tiny creatures infiltrate a dog's fur, ears, and skin, causing many health issues. Severe irritation caused by mite infestation can lead to secondary infections and a skin condition called mange.

The types of mites that commonly affect dogs vary, each with its distinct behavior and impact. Dog mites typically cause intense itchiness, redness, hair loss, and crusty skin. Mites cause physical discomfort and can impact a dog's mental and emotional state, leading to stress and behavioral changes. Therefore recognizing dog mite symptoms of their presence is the first step in providing effective treatment and preventive measures to ensure our dogs live a healthy and comfortable life.

mite information

Types of Mites Affecting Dogs

Let's take a look at some of the most common types of dog mite species. 

Ear Mites

Ear mites, often known as Otodectes cynotis, are notorious for infesting a dog's ears, causing ear infections. These parasites make themselves at home in the ear canals, leading to itching, head shaking, and sometimes visible debris in the ears.

Sarcoptes Scabiei

Sarcoptes scabiei is responsible for sarcoptic mange, sometimes called canine scabies. Sarcoptic mange mites burrow into the dog's skin, causing intense itching, and red skin, and often leading to hair loss, giving a dog's skin a red and crusty appearance. They are easily transmitted to other dogs and humans too, through direct contact.

Demodex Canis

Demodex canis mites, causing demodectic mange, is yet another type. They reside within hair follicles and can lead to hair loss in patches and, in severe cases, chronic skin problems. Unlike other mites, Demodex canis mites are considered a part of a dog's normal skin flora. Still, Demodex mange can become problematic in certain conditions, especially in young dogs or those with compromised immune systems.

Cheyletiella Yasguri

Cheyletiella yasguri mites, known for the distinctive 'walking dandruff,' affect the skin of dogs, resulting in irritation of the skin, frequent itching, and scaling skin. Their presence often appears as moving dandruff along the back and neck of affected dogs.

Trombiculidae

Trombiculosis, often referred to as "chiggers" or "harvest mite," is a condition caused by larvae of a specific type of mite called Trombiculidae. These tiny orange or red mange mites are a common nuisance, especially in warm, grassy areas and in rotting material. The symptoms of trombiculosis in dogs usually include severe itching, red and inflamed skin, and the formation of small, red papules or bumps. 

Understanding these various species of mites is crucial for dog owners to identify specific symptoms and provide timely care. Each type of dog mite presents its unique set of characteristics and challenges, from the location of infestation to the visible symptoms observed in affected dogs. Identifying the type of mite affecting a dog is the first step in offering suitable treatment.

mites walking along

How Are Dog Mites Transmitted?

Mites find their way onto our furry friends through various means, causing a range of discomforting conditions. These pests infiltrate a dog's coat or skin through contact with infested animals or environments.

  1. Transmission from Infested Animals: Direct contact with another infested unfamiliar dog can easily transfer mites to a healthy dog. Social interactions, especially among dogs in close quarters, increase the risk of transmission, particularly for contagious types of mites like Sarcoptes scabiei.

  2. Environmental Transmission: Mites are resilient and can linger in environments such as pet bedding, grass, or soil. Dogs spending time in these infested areas can inadvertently pick up these mites. Places like parks or shelters can serve as hotspots for mites, making them a source of transmission.

Understanding the various means of transmission is crucial for dog owners. Be mindful of interactions with another unfamiliar dog and seek prompt veterinary care at the first sign of discomfort and unpleasant dog skin condition. This vigilance will help to effectively manage and prevent dog mites from spreading.

Symptoms of Mites on Dogs

Mites on dogs can present a variety of distressing symptoms, often affecting their skin and behavior.

Commonly, the most visible sign of infestation of mites on dogs is intense itching. Dogs may exhibit behavioral changes such as constant scratching, biting, or licking of affected areas. This persistent itching can lead to red skin, crusty patches, and, in more severe cases, hair loss, indicating an uncomfortable and distressing experience for our pets.

For specific mite infestations like ear mites, you might notice your dog excessively shaking its head or displaying unusual behavior while trying to scratch the ears. Additionally, a dark discharge within the ear canal can indicate the presence of ear mites.

Sarcoptic mites typically lead to red, inflamed skin, often forming crusts. Dogs infested with these mites might show behavioral changes due to the discomfort, becoming restless and agitated.

dog scratching itself

Demodex mites, on the other hand, which are a part of a dog's natural skin flora, can become problematic, especially in younger dogs or those with compromised immune systems. The symptoms include patchy hair loss and, in severe cases, chronically affected skin areas.

Recognizing these symptoms and behavioral changes in dogs is vital for early detection and treatment. Timely intervention not only alleviates discomfort for our furry friends but also prevents more severe skin issues or potential re-infection.

As a responsible pet owner, being vigilant about these visible signs, conducting regular checks, and seeking veterinary guidance when symptoms arise can help in timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment to kill dog mites. This proactive approach ensures a happier and healthier life for our beloved pets, free from the discomfort caused by these unwelcome parasites.

How to Diagnose Mite Infestation

Diagnosing and treating mite skin conditions in our pets is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Getting rid of these parasites is key to keeping our pups happy and healthy, and that's where the vets come in.

Diagnosing mites on dogs usually starts with a close examination by a skilled vet. They'll give your dog a once-over, checking the skin, ears, and fur for any telltale signs of mites, like redness, flaky patches, or unexpected hair loss. Sometimes, they might need to take skin scrapings for microscopic investigation or run other tests to pinpoint the exact type of mite causing trouble.

So, to diagnose mites on dogs is a blend of keen observation, scientific scrutiny, and professional know-how. With your vet leading the charge, you can be confident that the right diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan will get your furry friend back to a happy and healthy state.

Treatment of Dog Mite Symptoms

Once the vet determines that your dog has mites, they will suggest a treatment plan personalized for your dog’s specific infestation. Let's look at some of the ways to treat mites.

  1. Topical treatment: Topical treatments, such as medicated anti-parasitic shampoos, spot-on treatments, or ear medications, are commonly prescribed to eradicate the mites and alleviate the discomfort experienced by the dog.

  2. Oral Medication. In severe cases, oral medications or injections may be necessary to effectively combat the infestation and kill mites.

  3. Dealing with Secondary Infections. The treatment plan also covers handling any secondary infections or dog skin problems spawned by the mite invasion. Plus, your vet will likely give you tips to prevent re-infestation to keep your pup healthy.

  4. Monitoring. Moreover, veterinarians play a crucial role in guiding pet owners on long-term care and monitoring post-treatment. Regular follow-ups and check-ups are recommended to ensure the successful eradication of mites and to prevent re-infestation.

mite treatment

Since every mite infection is a bit different your vet’s know-how and advice, will help you manage the dog mites and offer relief to your furry friend.

Preventive Measures

Preventing mite's inhabitation on our canine companions is a pivotal part of responsible pet care. Implementing strategies to keep these microscopic troublemakers at bay involves a multi-layered approach, merging hygiene habits, environmental management, and proactive veterinary care.

  1. Good Hygiene Practises. Maintaining good hygiene practices is a first line of defense to prevent mite infestations. Regular grooming sessions and a watchful eye on your dog's skin and ears can catch early signs of trouble. Periodically cleaning your dog's bedding and living areas significantly reduces the chance of mites making themselves at home, keeping your dog's space clean and cozy.

  2. Environmental control is a game-changer. Regularly vacuuming, especially in areas your dog frequents, helps eliminate any lurking mites. Washing your dog's bedding regularly in hot water and employing pet-safe cleaning solutions for your home creates an inhospitable environment for mites.

  3. Regular Veterinary Check-ups. Scheduled visits allow for early detection of any potential issues, providing an opportunity for preventive action. Your vet can offer advice on parasite prevention techniques and recommend products that you can buy at the pet shops.

  4. Parasite Prevention. Moreover, keeping all pets in your household on a routine parasite prevention plan is key. Treating every pet in your care helps prevent the spread of mites from one furry family member to another, ensuring a mite-free household.

  5. Healthy Diet and Exercise. A well-balanced diet and regular exercise can boost your dog's immune system, making it more resilient to potential mite invaders. A healthy immune system enables a dog to fight a skin disease caused by mites.

Understanding that prevention is better than cure holds for mite infestations in dogs. Incorporating these preventive measures into your routine and seeking guidance from your veterinarian, can proactively safeguard your dog from mite infestation. 

washing dog

Can Dog Mites Affect Humans?

Certainly, mites can affect both our furry companions and humans. While most mites that affect dogs are species-specific and tend to thrive on canine hosts, certain mites, particularly Sarcoptes scabiei, known for causing sarcoptic mange in dogs, can be transmitted to humans. These mites might cause a temporary skin irritation or rash in people who come in contact with infested dogs, though they don't establish a permanent presence in human skin.

Precautions are vital for individuals with infested pets. Direct contact with an infested dog or its bedding should be minimized. If contact is necessary, wearing gloves and washing hands thoroughly afterward can significantly reduce the risk of transmission.

For individuals who are more susceptible to allergic reactions or have compromised immune systems, extra caution is advised. Seeking prompt medical advice if you experience unusual irritation on the skin or when rashes develop after contact with an infected dog.

Maintaining good hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing, especially after handling pets, and keeping pets and their living areas clean, significantly lowers the risk of potential mite transmission.

While the risk of mites affecting humans from infested pets is relatively low, taking these precautions is a prudent approach. Being aware of the potential for zoonotic transmission and following these simple yet effective measures can help ensure the well-being of both pets and their human companions.

In Conclusion

Mites, despite their tiny size, wield a significant impact on our furry pals. To ensure our dogs stay healthy and happy, it's crucial to spot the signs of mite troubles early, get veterinary care pronto, and apply preventive tactics.

Staying informed is your secret weapon! This knowledge helps you manage and prevent mites paving the way for your pets to thrive. While the risk of mites affecting humans from pets is low, simple yet smart steps, like reducing direct contact and maintaining good hygiene, offer added protection. If you notice anything odd, swiftly seek medical advice.

By being attentive and providing care, we secure our pets' comfort, letting them live their best lives, minus the bother of mite infestations. Remember, your proactive approach can keep those pesky critters at bay and ensure your furry friends are happy and healthy!

References

  1. Dryden, M. W., (June 2018). Mite Infestation (Mange, Acariasis, Scabies) in Dogs. MSD Veterinary Manual.

    https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/skin-disorders-of-dogs/mite-infestation-mange,-acariasis,-scabies-in-dogs#

  2. Rodriguez-Vivas, R. I., Ortega-Pacheco, A., Rosado-Aguilar, J. A., & Bolio, G. M. E. (2003). Factors affecting the prevalence of mange-mite infestations in stray dogs of Yucatán, Mexico. Veterinary Parasitology, 115(1), 61-65. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304401703001894

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Comment

  • Found the mite information interesting And informative. Years ago I had a dog get canine scabies while he boarded with friends for 2 days. He had to be treated and I was washing linens, dog bed etc and checking myself. He was cured but in the yard my dog comes in itching in feet due to environmental allergies but busy always washing feet. She has health issues so a compromised immune so I’m keeping a close watch- its mandatory I monitor my baby Mocha, a 8yo Harlequin Brown Merle min pincher.

    Robin Camacho on

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AUTHOR

Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.


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