If you are surprised that dogs are good hosts of mites, you’ll appreciate this dog mites guide with details including types of dog mites, what dog mites look like, diagnosis, and treatment. I go into detail and have shared images of mites and relevant tables below. Some images of dogs with mites are not appealing, sorry. Mites suck, and they actually do. They feed on your dog’s blood. Anyway, this guide will enable you to better assist your dog if you suspect that it has mites so, read on!
Let’s start by answering this basic question:
What are Dog Mites?
Dog mites are small creatures commonly mistaken for insects but actually belong to a class of organisms called arthropods. They are parasites that burrow into your dog’s skin causing irritation and inflammation.
There are four common types of mites that infest dogs;
- Demodex canis mites
- Sarcoptes scabiei mites
- Otodectes cynotis mites
- Cheyletiella yasguri mites
We’ll get to ech of the four types above later. Let’s first look at how dog mites appear so you can be able to notice them.
What do dog mites look like?
Mites are mostly microscopic and the ones that grow to be very big are barely a millimeter long. Since they are arthropods they have 8 legs consisting of 4 pairs. It is therefore quite hard to see them, especially on dogs since they will be covered by fur, and much easier to observe symptoms.
How do I tell if a dog has mites?
Since it is not easy to observe the mites on your dog you should be keen to observe certain symptoms that suggest the presence of mites. Some of these symptoms include;
- Hair loss
- Appearance of dandruff
- Excessive scratching
- Visible irritation such as red skin
- Sometimes if you are lucky you might see the actual mites
Most of these symptoms can be grouped as mange which is defined as a skin condition caused by infestation of mites. There are two types of mange which are sarcoptic and demodectic mange. Each of these has its own sign and symptoms. Sarcoptic mange is feared as it is contagious and can even be transferred to man. It is characterized by hair loss caused by continuous scratching. Demodectic mange on the other hand is characterized by reddening, scaling, crusting, lesions and darkening of chronically affected skin.
Types of dog mites and treatment options
There are four main types of dog mites;
Demodex Canis mites
It is known for the infestation it causes known as demodicosis. It has been given various names according to its nature. Some of the names are Demodex mange, demodectic mange or red mange. The mite is a parasite and attaches itself on a dog’s coat to the hair follicles. The dogs most prone to an attack by Demodex Canis mites are;
- Young dogs-these are passed to them by their mothers when nursing
- Abandoned dogs
- Dogs with low immune systems
- Young and old dogs with poor diets
The mites have various effects on dogs such as thickened skin and hair loss. The dog might also have secondary infections from being affected by the mites like yeast and bacteria. You should therefore treat the dogs as soon as possible. There have been recent discoveries of suitable treatments for dogs affected by these mites like afoxolaner,fluralaner, lotilaner and sarolaner. The medication has proved to be more effective as compared to previous medications to the disease like amitraz dips and daily oral ivermectin for months. Other vets also advise the dog owners in a lime sulfur dip which has become a very popular treatment.
Sarcoptes Scabiei mites
It is known for causing sarcoptic mange as its name suggests. The mites burrow deep into the dog’s skin. The effect it causes is known as sarcoptic mange which is also known as scabies. It is highly contagious and can even be transmitted to humans where it becomes scabies. It has distinct itchiness, especially around the armpits and groin. It also has other effects like making the skin red and scaly and hair loss. Due to its contagious nature, it should be treated as quickly so as to avoid infecting the dog owner. The common treatments are imidacloprid and moxidectin administered monthly. Selamectin is also used but is administered yearly. Other vets prefer to use ivermectin as the main ingredient in a heartworm medication.
Otodectes Cynotis mites
These mites are commonly referred to as ear mites. This is because they mostly affect the ears and most of the symptoms are associated with ears. The dogs most prone to an attack by these mites are puppies and older dogs exposed to outdoor cats. Some of the sign and symptoms are;
- If a dog is seen to be continuously scratching its ears
- Excessive shaking of the head which may lead to rupture of blood vessels in the ears
- A black dirt might develop inside the dog’s ears
If you observe the above signs it is advisable to get a vet since some of the symptoms might develop due to an ear infection. The diagnosis is simple as all the vet needs to do is to observe the debris inside the dog’s ears. The most common treatment is prescription drops. Some vets might recommend monthly application of selamectin together with the drops in order to prevent fleas and heartworms.
Cheyletiella Yasguri mites
The mites are commonly known as walking dandruff. This is because they appear as dandruff on your dog’s skin but on close examination are seen to be mites. Some of the symptoms include;
- Appearance of dandruff moving on dog’s skin
- Itchiness all over
- A rash may develop characterized by small red splotches
Once you have seen these signs you should call a vet for more examination. Once it is confirmed to be the mites some pet owners might decide to just bath their dogs. You should note that bathing only reduces the mites but does not end them completely. The most recommended treatment is application of selamectin every two weeks. The standard procedure is doing this for three treatments. You can also use pyrethrin shampoos or lime sulfur dips every week for three treatments.
Preventing Dog mite infestation
To prevent all the procedures involved in identifying the mites affecting your dog and treating them appropriately it is easier to prevent your dog from getting the mites in the first place. You will find it quite easy if you make it part of your dog’s lifestyle to follow certain procedures. Some of the steps are;
- Grooming-this is quite important as it involves things like bathing your pet and ensuring its surroundings are also mite free
- Feeding-it is essential to give your dog a good nutrition consisting of a balanced diet so as to boost its immunity putting in a better position to face mites
- Regularly clean its ears to prevent infestation by ear mites
- You should also administer anti-parasite treatments regularly to prevent infestation by mites
- Besides giving your dog a healthy meal ensure to give it supplements to boost its immunity
- You should also monitor your dog for any signs of infestation by mites
- Ensure your dog undergoes regular checkups by the vet so as to detect any mites present or other diseases
- You should also check up on all pets to ensure they don’t infect the dog especially cats
Supplements for dog mites
As said earlier supplements are important in boosting your dog’s immunity. They however can’t work alone and thus need the input of other factors like a balanced diet and good grooming. Since the importance of supplements is based on the immunity system of your dog you should therefore supplements best suited to your dog. Even as you buy supplements best suited to your dog there are a few factors you have to consider. Studies have shown that probiotics promote a healthy digestive and immune system and also promotes a healthy skin and coat for your dog. You should therefore buy quality probiotics to ensure these factors and for you to successfully buy high quality probiotics you should make sure they include;
- Multiple strains of probiotics
- Highly nutritious foods such as blueberries and pumpkins
- Digestive enzymes
There are also other things to avoid in order to make sure your supplements are top notch and don’t end up being wasted on your dog. First you must avoid at all costs buying probiotics specifically made for humans as nutritional balance is not the same. You should also avoid;
- Synthetic flavors, preservatives or dyes
- Fillers such as wheat and corn
You should give your dog supplements even when it has never been infested by mites so as to build its immunity making it stronger.
Dog mite shampoos
When bathing your dog you should consider having the appropriate shampoo. You should consider the condition your dog is in and whether you need medicated shampoo or normal mange shampoo. You should also be considerate of the effect of the shampoo on your dog like the effect on its skin and the period in which the shampoo stops being effective. It is due to these reasons that you should only buy the best. Some of the shampoos are;
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Dog Shampoo
Some of its perks are;
- Gentle healing-it is antiparasitic and well medicated to ensure your dog heals with ease
- Fast acting- it is medicated thus able to act fast on the mites and on your dog’s skin
- Veterinary recommended
- Dog specific- its components are specifically chosen to fit your dog
Studies have shown that it has helped heal skin and coat problems in dogs. It also helps to soothe itchy rashes and does a great job in eliminating mites. You can find it on Amazon here or on chewy here
Pet MD Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo for Dogs and Cats
It also has its perks which are;
- Relieving scaling and itching from demodectic mange
- Its antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal making it suitable to disinfect your dog from secondary infections like yeast and bacteria
- Has peroxide, micronized sulfur and salicylic acid which kills the mites and decreases your dog`s skin
It is one of the few available over-the-counter shampoos which has proven to be very effective in treating a number of skin conditions like rashes, dry skin, and yeast infections. You can easily get the shampoo from amazon here or chewy here.
Keeping the mites away
It is clearly easier and cost-friendly to avoid your dog having mites in the first place than treating them. It is quite easy to keep the mites away. You have to ensure that you groom your dog properly through things like bathing it and ensure its surroundings are also clean. You should also ensure that it has a good diet to boost its immunity thus making it stronger.
You should make sure to include probiotics in their diet as well as they also boost your dog’s immunity. You can also put in place more preventive measures like spraying the dog and its surroundings with anti parasites or using natural methods like apple cider vinegar.
Dog mites on humans
Studies have also shown that humans can also be greatly affected by mites. The most common is sarcoptic mange which is commonly known as scabies. It is highly contagious and can be spread from contact with an infected animal or human to human contact. Those most likely to contract scabies are people;
- Living in crowded conditions
- Who practice poor hygiene
- Having a weak immune system
- Living or working near hospitals or nursing homes
- Frequently attend learning institutions
- Young children
Some of the symptoms you might develop as a result include;
- Itchiness especially at night
- One might develop a rash especially between fingers
- Blisters on the surface of the skin caused by mites and are known as burrow lines
The symptoms are more visible and intense in areas of the body with skin folds like armpits, finger webbing, beneath the breasts, inner elbows, wrists, knees and buttocks. You should also be very keen as the symptoms may present themselves as other conditions like;
- Fungal infections
- Or appear as insect bites
Once you experience these symptoms you should see the doctor as the medication is not available over the counter but has to be prescribed. Some of the drugs prescribed are;
- Permethrin cream(Elimite)
- Lindane lotion
- Crotamiton (Eurax)
Once you are under medication you should ensure to;
- Clean yourself through bathing or showering
- Keep a clean environment around you
- Apply the medication as prescribed
- Put on clean clothes after applying medication
Harvest mites on dogs
Harvest mites are small bright orange mites that live in the soil. When a dog or any other mammal passes near them, they attach themselves around the chest, armpits, neck, stomach, and genitals. They are easily visible to the naked eye unlike most mites and are easily diagnosed. Unlike most mites, they don’t burrow into the dog’s skin but instead thrust small hooked fangs that suck blood causing itching and irritation to the dog. Some of the signs that your dog is infested by harvest mites are;
- Itchy skin
- Red patches of skin
- Orange dots on the skin or fur
- Yellow scabs and pus
- Stained fur from constant licking and biting
The harvest mites are easily diagnosable and in most cases don’t require the vet to identify them. Unfortunately, no medicine has been specifically designed for harvest mites but some flea treatments have proved to be very effective against them.
To calm your dog’s skin that may be itchy, you can give your dog anti-inflammatories. If on the other hand, your dog has a severe infestation you might require antibiotics. Prevention is easy since your dog is less likely to be infested if you administer regular flea treatments. However, it is advisable to avoid areas infested with harvest mites.
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Hi there! My name is Alex Landy, one of the co-founders here at Our Pets HQ and a parent to a small-breed Yorkie. I am a published author of two books on dog breeding and currently write on various pet-related blogs about caring for dogs. I am a parent of two daughters and live outside Boston where I spend a lot of time with family and serve in different breeding clubs. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org