Cheyletiella Mites in Cats and Dogs
Cheyletiella is a skin parasite that affects dogs and cats, as well as other animals and humans. Known as “walking dandruff” this mite causes symptoms similar to flaky, dry skin. Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of Cheyletiella mites in pets.
What are Cheyletiella mites?
Related to ticks and resembling insects, Cheyletiella is a type of very small mite. Both dogs and cats are susceptible to infestation. Mites are species-specific, with Cheyletiella blakei (cats) and Cheyletiella yasguri (dog). These mites spend the majority of their time on the hair of the dog or cat but will travel to the skin surface to feed on dead skin cells. The entire life cycle of Cheyletiella (from egg to adult) is spent on the animal host and lasts about three weeks.
How is Cheyletiella transmitted?
Most pets contract Cheyletiella from other animals at shelters, breeders and grooming facilities, or other areas where a large number of dogs and cats have contact with one another.
Can I get Cheyletiella from my pet?
Yes! An infested pet can absolutely transmit the mites to people. As humans are considered accidental hosts, signs will usually resolve without treatment once the pet and the environment have been treated.
Symptoms of Cheyletiella Infestation on Dogs and Cats
- Appearance of scaly skin, primarily on the back
- Scale may appear to move or “walk”
- Mild itching, but may become severe if an animal develops a hypersensitivity or allergy to the bite of the mite
- Most commonly seen in puppies and kittens kept in poor living conditions
How is Cheyletiella diagnosed?
- Clinical signs/symptoms
- Patient history
- Identification of mite under the microscope
How are pets with Cheyletiella treated?
Once a diagnosis of Cheyletiella is made, your vet will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your pet. Many monthly flea/tick/heartworm preventatives are effective in eliminating Cheyletiella. These products are not specifically approved for treating Cheyletiella, so your vet may discuss using them “off label”. Other topical products, such as medicated baths and rinses, are also available.
Routine cleaning of the environment allied with products designed for flea control is often advised because the survival of female mites off the host for up to 10 days has been documented.
It’s important to note that these products, along with routine cleaning of the pet’s environment are typically very effective at preventing infection and/or re-infection with the Cheyletiella mite.
Have more questions about Cheyletiella or other skin parasites?
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