Mites are parasites that cause discomfort and allergic reactions in dogs. The form of transmission and symptoms depend on the type of mite your dog has. Unlike ticks and fleas, mites in dogs do not cause serious illness, but these parasites can trigger very unpleasant and annoying discomfort in our dogs, and that’s the essence of this article.
We’ll look into how to tell if your dog has mites, and we’ll provide you with the essential knowledge on how to get rid of dog mites.
Note: Before we kick off the topic, “How to tell if your dog has mites”, we just need to make something clear. Pawsitive Tips is not a certified veterinary doctor or animal behaviorist. The information contained in this article is strictly based on our research and findings from dog experts. So, if you suspect your dog has mites or is suffering from any health issues, you need to visit a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
How do you tell if your dog has mites?
Generally, you can identify if your dog has mites by observing symptoms such as excessive scratching, hair loss, redness or inflammation of the skin, ear shaking, and visible discomfort. If you notice any of these signs, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Types of dog mites
Dog mites come in various types, each with its own set of allergies and symptoms. Let’s explore these mites in detail and learn how to identify if your dog has them.
Trombicula autumnalis (trommbiculosis)
Trombicula autumnalis, known as the “harvest mite,” leads to trombiculosis. These pinhead-sized orange mites are active during the summer and autumn, particularly in certain regions. They progress through stages of development, from eggs to larvae that eventually become mites.
While they primarily feed on plants, during the larval phase, they latch onto animal plasma and can infest dogs.
How to tell if your dog has Trombicula autumnalis mite
Here are some signs that your dog may have chiggers:
- Small, red bumps on the skin, often in clusters
- Intense itching, especially around the ears, neck, and feet
- Hair loss
- Secondary infections
To find this type of mite in your dog, you need to look for the larvae between paw toes, on the belly, or on the head.
Otodectes cynotis – Ear Mite
Otodectes cynotis, also known as ear mites, are tiny parasites that live in the ear canals of dogs and cats. They are highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact with an infested animal or its bedding. Ear mites can cause inflammation called otitis.
How to tell if your dog has Otodectes cynotis, also known as Ear Mite
Here are some signs that your dog may have ear mites:
- Scratching and rubbing at the ears.
- Dark discharge from your dog’s ears.
- Swelling of the dog’s ear canals.
- Loss of hair around your dog’s ear.
- Pain and discomfort.
Intense itching is a common symptom, and it might also affect the skin within the ears. Keep an eye out for discomfort, pain, swelling, and a dark brown discharge with an unpleasant odor.
Cheyletiella mites are small, oval-shaped mites that can cause a condition in dogs called cheyletiellosis, also known as “walking dandruff.” These mites are easily spread from dog to dog, and they can also be spread to humans if care is not taken. These mites reside on the skin, moving among hairs and feeding on body fluids.
How to tell if your dog has Cheyletiella mite
Here are some signs that your dog may have Cheyletiella mites:
- Excessive scaling and dandruff on the skin.
- Walking dandruff.
- In severe cases, cheyletiellosis can cause hair loss.
- Redness, swelling, or irritation of the skin.
- In some cases, dogs with cheyletiellosis may also develop sneezing.
Watch for varying degrees of itching and the presence of small, dry dandruff-like scales, typically on your dog’s back.
These scales may resemble dandruff but could actually be the mites themselves. A veterinarian can diagnose these mites by collecting a skin sample using the scraping or acetate tape method, which is then analyzed under a microscope.
Sarcoptic Mange – Scabies
Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is a highly contagious skin condition caused by mites. It can be very uncomfortable and irritating for dogs, and it can also be spread to humans.
Transmission occurs through direct contact with infected animals or indirectly through contact with contaminated objects.
Once hosted on the dog, these mites reproduce, and the females dig tunnels in the skin where they deposit eggs and feces. During the tunneling process, the mites feed on skin cells and body fluids. As a result, dogs’ skin becomes extremely irritated, and allergic reactions can develop. Therefore, it is very common for dogs infected with this type of mite to feel an almost unbearable itch.
How to tell if your dog has sarcoptic mange mite
- Hair loss.
- Your dog’s skin may become red, swollen, and irritated.
- The mites can leave behind crusts and scabs on your dog’s skin.
- The scratching can also lead to secondary infections, such as bacterial or yeast infections.
Look for initial signs such as reddish spots on the belly and elbows, followed by hair loss and thicker skin, particularly around the ears and throughout the body in advanced stages.
Veterinarians diagnose the presence of this mite by taking a skin scraping for observation under a microscope. However, this examination is not always conclusive, as the mites may not be present in the sample taken. In these cases, the veterinarian may decide to prescribe treatment for sarcotic mange and monitor how the dog reacts. If the symptoms keep increasing, then the animal is considered to be infected.
Demodex canis – Demodectic Mange, or Demodicosis
The kind of mite that causes this illness naturally lives on the skin of all furry animals, including dogs. These mites reside in hair follicles and glands but can’t survive away from the host. They mainly feed on waste from cells and bodily fluids.
Having a few of these mites doesn’t lead to sickness or symptoms. If the dog’s immune system is strong, it can easily manage the mite population. However, if these mites reproduce and survive excessively, the dog gets demodicosis.
One thing that can trigger this illness is birth. During this time, the mother passes these mites to the puppies. Since their immune system is still developing, the puppies might struggle to control the growth of these parasites.
How to tell if your dog has Demodex canis
Your dog may have this type of mite if:
- It starts losing hair excessively.
- The skin becomes red and inflamed.
- The skin becomes scaly and crusty.
- It starts experiencing itching.
- Your dog starts suffering from secondary infections, such as bacterial or yeast infections.
To determine if your dog has this type of mite, closely observe their behavior and skin condition. If your dog displays frequent scratching, itching, or any unusual skin changes, consult a veterinarian promptly.
How do you diagnose the presence of mites in dogs?
To diagnose the presence of mites in dogs, a veterinarian typically performs a thorough physical examination and may use techniques such as skin scrapings or ear swabs. These samples are then examined under a microscope to identify the presence of mites or their eggs.
In some cases, additional tests like skin biopsies or blood tests might be conducted to confirm the diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment.
Treating mites in dogs
In most cases of mite infestation, it’s important to treat both the affected dog and other pets in the same household, as the risk of spreading the mites is high.
Continuing treatment until the end is equally important, even if the dog’s symptoms have disappeared. This is the only way to make sure that mites at all stages of development are completely eradicated. Additionally, it’s a good idea to trim the fur of dogs with thick or long hair.
Various medications can be used to treat mite infestations, including shampoos, pills, and spot-on lotions. When the issue is more severe and the dog has developed skin infections, antibacterial shampoos or topical antibiotics might be necessary.
It’s important to note that treatments should always be prescribed by a veterinarian.
Thorough home cleaning
To effectively eliminate your dog’s parasites, your entire home should be treated. Along with vacuuming and washing, using an anti-mite spray is recommended.
Give special attention to the areas where your dog spends most of its time. This means regularly and frequently washing the dog’s bed, carriers, car, and other accessories like brushes or combs throughout your dog’s treatment.
Prevention: how to avoid mites in dogs?
If you make sure to regularly use deworming treatments for your dog, like sprays or pills that work against ticks and other parasites, you’ll likely be able to manage mites too. It’s important to avoid any contact with animals that are known to be infected.
Keep in mind that the Demodex canis mite is a natural part of a dog’s skin, so there aren’t any proven methods for preventing it.
FAQs on dog mites
What are the most common types of mites that can infest dogs?
The most common types of mites that can infest dogs are:
- Trombiculiasis (chiggers)
- Ear mites
- Cheyletiella (walking dandruff)
- Sarcoptic mange
- Demodectic mange
What are the symptoms of mite infestation in dogs?
The symptoms of mite infestation in dogs can vary depending on the type of mite, but some common symptoms include:
- Redness and irritation of the skin
- Dandruff and a scaly rash
- Earwax buildup and pain in the ears
- Hair loss and skin lesions.
How can I tell if my dog has mites?
If you think your dog may have mites, there are a few things you can do to check:
- Examine your dog’s skin for small, red bumps or spots. These may be mites or their eggs.
- Part your dog’s fur and look for mites or their droppings. Mites are very small, so you may need a magnifying glass to see them.
- Check your dog’s ears for signs of ear mites, such as earwax buildup, redness, and pain.
- If you are still unsure, take your dog to the veterinarian for a diagnosis.
Can I see mites on my dog’s skin?
Mites are tiny and often not visible to the naked eye. You might be able to spot some mite debris, like crusty material or scales, on your dog’s skin or fur.
How are mites treated in dogs?
Mites can be treated with a variety of medications, including:
- Topical treatments that are applied to the skin
- Oral medications that are taken by mouth
- Injectable medications that are given by injection
The type of medication that is used will depend on the type of mite and the severity of the infestation.
How can I prevent mites in my dog?
There are a few things you can do to help prevent mites in your dog:
- Keep your dog’s coat clean and free of mats.
- Avoid contact with other dogs who may be infested with mites.
- Inspect your dog for mites regularly.
- Treat your dog for fleas, as fleas can carry mites.
- Use a mite-preventative product on your dog.
What are the risks of not treating mites in dogs?
If mites are not treated, they can cause a number of health problems in dogs, including:
- Irritation and pain
- Skin infections
- Hearing loss (in the case of ear mites)
- Anemia (in the case of severe infestations)
In some cases, untreated mites can even be fatal.
Are all mites the same? Do different types of mites have distinct symptoms?
There are various types of mites, and they can cause different symptoms. Some mites target the ears, while others affect the skin. Understanding the specific symptoms can help identify the type of mite.
How can I differentiate between mite infestations and other skin issues my dog might have?
While some symptoms might overlap, mite infestations often come with intense itching and specific patterns of hair loss.
Can I treat mite infestations at home, or should I visit a veterinarian?
While some over-the-counter treatments might help, it’s recommended to consult a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. Incorrect treatment can worsen the issue.
I hope this answers your questions about how to tell if your dog has mites. If you have any further concerns, please consult with your veterinarian.