Mite Bites on Dogs: How You Can Treat Them

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Mite Bites On Dogs How You Can Treat ThemMost dog owners will be familiar with dog mites; these tiny creatures come with hard exoskeletons that infest the dog’s skin which may lead to skin disease and irritation. To the naked eye, they will resemble tiny black dots but you’ll be able to tell they’re on your dog due to symptoms such as hair loss, severe itching, inflammation, and redness. Mite bites on dogs can be a big nuisance, so we made this guide to help you treat your four-legged friends. 

What are Dog Mites? 

As you probably already know, these tiny parasites are generally smaller compared to human hair; they will usually infest your dog’s skin, fur, and ears, causing skin inflammation. They belong to the arachnid family, along with spiders and ticks. There are 4 primary species of mites that affect dogs, which are Sarcoptes Scabiei mites, Demodex Canis mites, Otodectes Cynotis mites, Trombiculidae mites, and Cheyletiella spp. mites.  

Types of Mites

Below, we discuss the different kinds of mites that may affect dogs. 

Demodex Mites 

These common mites live on dog skin naturally and can exist there without causing problems. However, if the dog’s immune system is compromised, they can quickly multiply and cause problems on the surface of the skin. Demodicosis — an inflammation of the hair follicles — can occur in dogs between 3 to 18 months old as the result of a weak immune system, or in older dogs without healthy immune systems. 

When left untreated, demodectic mites can cause demodex mange or red mange, a skin disease that causes red skin, hair loss, and crusty skin, along with a moist and greasy appearance. Sometimes, they can also cause secondary bacterial infections.          

Sarcoptes Mites 

Sarcoptic mange mites are highly contagious. This type of mange causes very uncomfortable and itchy skin conditions that can quickly spread to humans and other dogs. Scabies mites are often observed in stray or malnourished dogs, and even in wild animals such as foxes.   

Cheyletiella Mites 

Often referred to as “walking dandruff”, these mites can cause excessive dandruff and scale, as well as the appearance of white flakes on the skin, which are actually mites. Affected dogs will experience intense itchiness, and can get them from other animals that have been exposed to these uncommon parasites. 

Otodectes Mites 

Also known as ear mites, these will infest your dog’s ears and will usually live in the ear canal but can also be found on the skin surface. Ear mite infestations can lead to head shaking, intense itching, ear infections, dark discharge from the ears, rashes, and hair loss around the ears. 

Harvest Mites

Also known as Trombiculidae mites, this creature is usually found in wooded areas where they wait for dogs to come across them. They cause itching in dogs, which can result in crusted spots as well as skin lesions and moist bleeding areas. A harvest mite infestation is often signaled by a sudden and intense itching during late summer and early fall. 

Symptoms of Dog Mites 

Clinical signs of a mite infestation include the following symptoms: 

  • Hair loss
  • Itching
  • Canine scabies
  • Open sores
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Secondary skin infections
  • Flaking skin
  • Dandruff
  • Ear odor and discharge
  • Allergic reaction

Some dogs might not show signs or symptoms, especially during the early days of infestation. 

How to Eliminate Mites from Dogs

There are many ways to keep mites away from your dog, which include regular grooming, preventative medication, keeping their environment clean, and giving them a healthy diet. 

Grooming  

Grooming your dog is necessary; this won’t just help them eliminate parasites, but it also helps to keep their coat soft and clean. Moreover, you can also look for scrapes, cuts, bumps, or lumps to ensure that your dog is in top physical form. Be sure to use a dog-specific shampoo since human shampoos can be harmful to their skin. 

Maintaining your dog’s ear health is of utmost importance so be sure to check them daily and wipe them using a wet cloth when needed. You only need to clean the visible areas of your dog’s ear and never poke around inside their ear canal, even if you’re using cotton buds. If your pup is constantly pawing their ears or shaking their heads, make sure to visit your vet for a thorough cleaning.  

Healthy Diet  

Giving your pup a healthy diet helps to keep their skin and coat in great shape, which makes it less likely for mites to become attracted to them. The best diet for dogs will include fats, proteins, and carbs in balanced amounts, along with micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins. To get a better idea of what your dog should eat, be sure to talk to your vet to get advice. 

Clean Environment 

Cleaning your dog’s bedding can help to prevent the spread of mites — it will also help if you keep your home well-ventilated and clean. Avoid taking your pup to unclean environments and don’t allow them to interact with dogs that have missing fur or open sores to prevent direct contact. Such dogs may suffer from mange or mites which can quickly infest dogs; at the same time, be sure to keep foxes out of your gardens whenever possible. 

When to See Your Vet 

Should you notice your dog scratching excessively or notice any skin changes such as dry skin, redness, hair loss, excess dandruff, or sores, then be sure to visit your veterinarian as quickly as possible. When detected early, the issues caused by these tiny mites can be much easier to treat. Below are a few ways that vets use to treat mite bites on dogs. 

  • Physical Examination: A vet will thoroughly examine your pet and check for signs of hair loss, skin irritation, and other signs of mite infestations. 
  • Skin Scraping: Mites are very small, so a vet may need to take samples of your canine friend’s fur or skin cells to have it examined through a microscope. This will help them identify the right type of mite you’re dealing with, along with how severe the infestation is. 
  • Skin Biopsy: There are times when your vet could recommend a biopsy on your dog’s skin to carefully examine the affected areas and rule out other possible skin conditions. 
  • Blood Tests: Your vet may also recommend doing blood tests to check if there are any hidden health conditions that might contribute to your pup’s symptoms.

Once your dog is given a diagnosis, your vet should be able to come up with a treatment plan to combat the specific type of mite your dog has as well as the infestation’s severity. Treatment options for mites are similar to flea treatments, which include oral medications, topical medication, antibiotics, or shampoos that can treat secondary infections. The life cycle of mites will usually last a few weeks, and your dog may need multiple treatments to make a complete recovery. 

Mite Bites on Dogs FAQs 

Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions about mite bites on dogs. 

How Do Mites Get to Dogs? 

Just like fleas, mites can be passed on from one dog to another when they make close contact with each other. This can happen when they play together, sleep next to one another, or if they’ve spent the night in a boarding kennel or doggy daycare. Mites can also be passed on from feeding bowls, toys, and bedding.  

What Happens if Your Dog isn’t Treated?

Mite bites aren’t fatal to dogs, but when left untreated, they can have severe skin changes and could experience pain, distress, and discomfort. If you suspect mites on your dogs, be sure to speak to your vet. 

Can Dog Mites Affect Humans? 

People can get sarcoptic mites from their pets, which may cause skin irritation but this usually won’t get worse because mites can’t live their whole life cycle on our skin. If you find that your skin is irritated, you can use cream and ointment for treatment. While they’re more uncommon, both Otodectes and Cheyletiella mites can also infest human skin. 

Conclusion

Mite bites on dogs can be annoying and even frustrating to deal with, especially when your dog is suffering from a severe case. The news is that the earlier you can detect them, the more likely they are to be fully eradicated from your best friend’s skin and fur. It’s important to remember that the best way to fight off these tiny intruders is through tick prevention, so be sure to take your pup to your vet at the first sign of infestation.

 

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