Symptoms and Treatment of Mites in Dogs
What are dog mites? They are tiny creatures about a millimeter long that burrow into a dog's skin and cause inflammation and irritation. They are, in other words, parasites, and as a consequence, your dog may suffer from skin conditions, such as hair loss and dry skin. Mites sometimes live in the dog's ears or fur and can cause mange, a common canine skin condition. Keep reading to learn more about mites in dogs, including symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
What types of mites affect dogs?
The condition that the dog develops because of a mite infestation is mange. It can be either sarcoptic mange or demodectic mange. Dogs can also have cheyletiellosis (sometimes called “walking dandruff”) and trombiculosis (also known as a harvest mite infestation).
Common Signs That Your Dog Has Mites
● Hair loss in patches or all over the coat
● Scratching excessively
● Red or irritated skin
● You can see some mites on the skin if you part the fur.
Symptoms of Demodex Mites in Dogs
These mites cause demodicosis, and the infestation can be called demodex mange, demodectic mange, or red mange. They attach themselves to the hair follicles on the dog's coat, causing the associated symptoms.
A demodex mange infestation can often lead to thickened skin, hair loss, and other secondary infections, such as yeast or bacteria. Your vet may recommend medications that contain afoxolaner, fluralaner, lotilaner, and sarolaner. Another treatment commonly implemented is a lime-sulfur dip.
However, the treatment needs to be continued until a skin scraping reveals that all mites are gone.
Symptoms of Scabies Mites in Dogs
The Sarcoptes scabiei mites burrow into the dog's skin and cause intense itchy sensations. You will likely notice that the dog scratches more than usual, especially around the groin or armpits. Other symptoms are red skin and hair loss.
These mites are also sometimes called scabies or canine scabies, and they can be passed to humans.
In this case, your vet will prescribe a course of oral or topical treatments.
Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs
Otodectes cynotis mites attack the dog's ears and cause intense itchiness. These are most often found on puppies' ears and dogs who interact with outdoor cats.
Some symptoms of ear mites are intense scratching, head shaking, and dark dirt-like debris on the inside flaps of both ears.
Since shaking the head and pawing at the ears can also be a sign of an ear infection, you should check with your vet to determine the cause of the dog's discomfort.
Common treatments for ear mites include prescription ear drops or other types of topical medication.
Symptoms of Cheyletiella Mites (“Walking Dandruff”) in Dogs
Cheyletiella yasguri mites cause cheyletiellosis, a mite infestation that is often called walking dandruff. At first glance, it looks like dandruff, but examination under a microscope reveals the presence of mites and not dry skin cells.
Treatment for cheyletiellosis includes oral medication, topical medication, and/or medicated shampoos.
Symptoms of Trombiculosis in Dogs
Finally, trombiculosis is another type of mange caused by the parasitic stage of mites of the family of Trombiculidae. Nymphs and adults can live on rotting material, and dogs may acquire them by lying on the ground or going for a walk.
Diagnosis is based on history and signs, and the treatment is the same as it is for mange.
How do dogs get mites?
There are many ways dogs can pick up mites. They can be passed from dog to dog, but they can also get them from the environment.
Animal shelters or grooming establishments are common places to get mites. Even if the animal is checked before being allowed into these places, accidents happen. Your dog may even get them when going for a walk and getting close to another dog.
If your dog gets a mite infestation, you should wash their bedding and clean the places he usually spends time in to avoid reinfection.
How to Prevent Dog Mites
There are several ways to protect your dog from mites. The first one is to avoid coming into contact with a dog who has them. If you often go on walks, try not to get close to unfamiliar dogs.
As mentioned, if you’ve recently treated your dog for mites, wash their bedding and clean the environment where he spends the most time. This way, you can prevent re-infestation. While the dog is on treatment, keep him away from your other pets.
You may also want to ask your vet about supplements to boost the dog's immune system. Supplements do not prevent mites but can help with the pet's overall health. It is believed that a weak immune system can create the perfect breeding ground for demodex mange.
Even though preventing an infestation is difficult, the most helpful approach is to keep your pets away from areas known to harbor mites, such as dog parks, boarding kennels, and grooming facilities. Because many of these places are nearly unavoidable, it’s a great idea to speak to your vet about medications that can prevent mite infections. For example, many flea and tick preventatives are used off-label with good success in preventing mite infections in dogs. Your vet will know what works best in your region.
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding mites on your dog or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.