Mites in Dogs and How to Get Rid of Them
There is nothing worse than learning your dog has a mite problem. Mites are nasty parasites that burrow into the dog’s skin and cause all sorts of health problems. Unfortunately, they are not the only parasite dogs can be infected with, but they are most common in dogs.
These parasites live in your dog’s coat, and if you don’t know what you are looking at, they can be hard to spot. Luckily, there are many ways you could get rid of these pesky mites. As dog owners, we should know a couple of ways since this is a common concern for dogs. Here is what you need to know about mites in dogs.
Mites aren’t the only parasites that can infect dogs. Check out this nasty parasite - Giardia in dogs.
What are dog mites?
Mites are tiny parasites, less than a millimeter long, that can infect our dogs and cause different sorts of health problems. The most widely known health problem caused by mites is called “mange.”
Not all mites are as dangerous, and mite infections are to dogs what a common cold is to humans - most will experience it. Some mite infestations among puppies resolve themselves, and there are no lasting or severe health issues. It all depends on what type of mite infects the dog. There are four most common dog mites that affect dogs, and they are;
Unlike other dog mites, these ones live in hair follicles. They are the main reason dogs develop demodectic mange. This is a fairly common mite and is often found on healthy dogs. They are cigar-shaped, and they have eight legs.
Otodectes cynotis is also known as ear mites. They live in a dog’s ears and cause a nasty crust inside the dog’s ear. They can also survive on different parts of dogs, so they are not only limited to the ear canal, even though they are mostly found there. Dogs can get it by direct contact with infected dogs.
These mites are commonly called canine scabies, and they too can cause mange. These mites prefer dogs, but other animals and even humans can get infected if they get in direct contact with infected dogs.
This mite species is often called “walking dandruff.” These mites are common in different species like rabbits, cats, or ferrets, but their favorite host is the domestic dog. This nasty parasite will cause your dog a lot of itching and discomfort.
There are parasites that can make a home in the dog’s heart. Here is more on them - Heartworm in dogs.
What is mange?
Mange is a word used for skin issues caused by different types of dog mites. If you ever saw a video of dogs being rescued and have terrible skin issues - that is mange. They are hairless with large crusty spaces, and their skin looks like it is turning to stone. Luckily, even the worst cases can be treated with proper care and medication. Dogs are not the only species affected by these skin issues; cats, ferrets, bunnies, and even humans can get mange. There are two main forms, and they are;
This form is often called Demodex or Red Mange, and it is caused by Demodex canis mite. These parasites are usual among dogs, and newborn puppies get them from their mothers in the first couple of days. They usually bury themselves deep in the hair follicle, and they don’t cause any problems. Demodectic Mange can become an issue if the dog has a weak immune system that can no longer keep these parasites in check.
This form of Mange is also often called canine scabies, and it is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei mite. It is a highly contagious form, and infected dogs should be isolated until the treatment is over. Female mites dig into the host’s skin and lay eggs. After a few weeks, eggs are hatched, and new parasites feed on the skin. This health issue causes many discomforts, and it needs to be handled as soon as possible.
Ever heard about coccidia? Check out this article for more information - Coccidia in dogs.
What are the symptoms of dog mites?
Like with many other health issues, the sooner you spot them, the sooner the treatment can begin. At the start of the dog mite infection, dog owners can easily disregard itching as just a “dog being dog.” Another reason you should keep a close eye on your dog is that humans can get infected as well. The most common symptoms include:
- Bald patches
- Hair loss (patches or whole coat)
- Visual confirmation - Some mite might be visible if you take a closer look at your dog’s skin.
How to treat dog mites?
The treatment process begins with an exact diagnosis. If you suspect your dog has mites because they are excessively scratching, itching, or biting themselves, they are likely infected with mites. Take your dog to the vet, and the vet will check their skin under a microscope and tell you exactly which parasite is causing problems.
After the vet confirms the exact mite species, they will let you know what the best course of action is. Luckily, dog mites can be dealt with relatively efficiently - by using an anti-parasitic dog shampoo. They can be bought in most pet shops or online.
The second option your vet might recommend is a precise medication that can be put on directly on the dogs’ skin. There are chewable tablets as well. It is vital that the dog is treated for a minimum of two weeks, and the home should be cleared as well. Bedding should be destroyed, and all parts of the house should be treated with anti-parasitic cleaning products.
You can never be sure whether some dog is infected with mites or not. The best way to prevent your dog from getting infected is by limiting their contact with other dogs. That is not always possible, so getting your dog chewable treats that have an anti-parasitic effect might be a good idea. Once every month will be more than enough to make sure your dog is protected and safe from these nasty little buggers.
World Dog Finder team