Mites can be found anywhere in the home: in beds, carpet, and furniture. They can be contagious and harmful, not only to your dog’s health but to you and your family members, as well as other pets.
Therefore, it’s necessary you know how to keep mites away from your home before they become a severe problem.
In this post, we are going to learn the different types of dog mites infestation, how to treat each one, and how to get rid of dog mites in your house.
What Are Mites On Dogs?
Mites are tiny microscopic skin parasites, under a millimeter long that exist everywhere. Because of their tiny size and transparent body, you won’t be able to see them without the aid of a microscope, and thus they go unnoticed.
Not all mites are harmful; some species even have a special role in supporting the ecosystem. However, certain types of mites can be dangerous for humans, animals, and plants.
When they feast on your dog’s skin, they can cause a plethora of health problems, from dry skin and hair loss to allergy and painful skin diseases or also commonly known as ‘mange’—skin irritation caused by mites infestation.
These skin diseases not only are painful in themselves, but they also can lead to a more serious health problem if left untreated for an extended period of time.
Although mange mites are specific to dogs, some of them can also become contagious to humans.
In humans, mange mites cause a painful skin condition called scabies. Possible signs and symptoms include pimples or blisters and inflammation on certain parts of the body.
What are The Signs of Mites in Dogs?
Unlike fleas and ticks that are easy to pinpoint, since mites are invisible to the naked eye, you must look out for the symptoms if you suspect your dog is suffering from one.
No matter what the type is, the symptoms of mite infestations are almost similar to all dogs. The most visible signs include:
- Hair loss (in patches or all over the coat).
- Bald spots.
- Dry skin and inflammation.
- Severe itchy skin (extreme scratching, biting, licking, or rubbing).
- Severe irritation, such as red skin.
- Bad Odor.
- Decreased appetite.
- Elbow and ankle lesions.
- Malaise and tiredness
Different Types of Mites on Dogs
There are several types of mites that infect dogs; the common ones are canine scabies, ear mites, walking dandruff, canine demodicosis, and trombiculosis.
Any infestations that are caused by those mites can be highly contagious from dog to dog, and from dog to human.
1. Canine Scabies or Sarcoptes Scabiei
Canine Scabies is a type of mites that tunnel into your dog’s skin to form burrows in which to lay their eggs. This action causes a skin infestation called sarcoptic mange.
Sarcoptic mange is very harmful and is spread from dog to dog and from dog to human. Sarcoptes Scabei causes a severely itchy skin followed by multiple small bumps in the infected area.
When scratched or bitten, the bums and the surrounding skins often will be damaged. The damaged skin then becomes crusty and sore, which is a perfect environment for yeast and bacteria thrive and spread.
2. Ear Mites (Otodectes Cynotis)
These mites infest deep in the external dog’s ear canal and cause a skin condition called ear mange. Aside from dogs, they infest the ear of other animals as well, such as cats, foxes, and raccoons.
The most apparent symptoms of ear mites in dogs are constant scratching of the ear and frequent head shaking.
Unlike canine scabies, the ear mites do not burrow into the ear’s skin, but when they need to, they can pierce through the ear’s skin to feed on blood, serum, and lymph.
The occurrence of mites in the dog’s ear causes several things to happen: the ear becomes red, swollen, inflamed, fill up with fluid or pus, forming crusts, and start oozing blood. The ear canal itself becomes congested, resulting in hearing loss.
In some cases, when the condition has become severe, ear mites infestations can spread beyond the ear to the rest of the dog’s body.
3. Walking Dandruff (Cheyletiellosis)
Walking dandruff is a type of mites that crawls on your dog’s skin. These mites are highly contagious and are transmitted to other pets and humans.
The symptoms include frequent severe itching, skin scaling and cracking, and infestation in the back part of the body.
4. Demodex Canis
Demodex Canis mites are often found in the hair follicles or sebaceous glands of dogs.
The small number of their occurrences in your dog’s body is actually normal since they can be transmitted from the dog’s mother during the first few days of nursing.
If your dog were healthy enough, these mites wouldn’t cause any trouble, and they may only experience a mild and temporary decline in skin condition.
However, in some cases, as in the case of dogs with a genetic predisposition or weak immune system, the infestation of these mites may lead to the development of demodectic mange.
Some breeds are more prone to demodectic mange than the others, like German Shepherds, English Bulldogs, Beagles, Dachshunds, and many terrier breeds.
There are two forms of demodectic mange: localized and generalized.
The localized demodectic mange starts as a red, bald patched around a small area (usually mouth and eyes).
As the condition grows severe, the affected area becomes hairless, red with pus-filled swelling forms on the skin. The yeast and bacteria then start to build up, and the infected area starts to emit an unpleasant odor.
The generalized demodectic mange starts on the head and face and quickly spreads to the rest of the dog’s body. The symptoms are marked by intensely red and tender skin that bleeds easily — this condition known as red mange.
If your dog is not treated immediately, the secondary infection will occur and kill your dog.
Trombiculosis mange is caused by Trombiculosis larvae that latch on to your dog when they are walking or lying in on the ground where these mites harbor themselves.
When the larvae latch on to your dog, they feed for a few, then leave when they feel full. The larvae can be found clustering on your dog’s head, ears, feet, or belly in the form of tiny, orange-red, oval dots.
The mange signs include redness, hair loss, bumps, and skin crust formation.
What Causes Mite Infestation in Dogs?
Your dog can come into contact with mites virtually anywhere — when they play in the living room, roll in the backyard, or dig in the dirt — or the mites can also be transferred from dog to dog.
What Does Mite Look Like on Dogs?
How to Get Rid of Dog Mites?
Although it is impossible to eliminate mites completely, there are few things that you can do to help decrease the number of mites if your house has been infested.
Step 1: Make Sure Your House is Dust-Free!
Dust mites are the most common types of mite found in the US. There are two ways you can eliminate this mite quickly: vacuum and dust often.
Use a vacuum cleaner to vacuum all the floors in your home, especially the place where dust mites like to cling and burrow such as carpets, furniture, and clothing. You can also use a robot vacuum if you don’t have much time to vacuum.
After vacuuming, you would want to wipe down all the stationary objects that can gather dust such as telephones, vases, shelves, tables, etc.
When you dust, use a damp duster or a damp cloth to avoid lifting the dust and mites into the air.
Read Also: Best Robot Vacuum for German Shepherd
Step 2: De-Clutter Your House.
At the first sign of mites infestation, you want to get rid of all places where they can call home: piles of newspapers, laundry piles, carpets, bedding, etc.
When you do your laundry, you may want to add a mixture of a few drops of tree tea oil and lemon juice, which is an excellent solution home remedy against the mites.
Step 3: Wash All Beds and Household Fabrics.
Bedding and household fabrics are the favorite home of the dust mite. During mite infestation, you need to wash all bedding including your bed, and your dog bed (link to my reviews), and household fabrics (like pillowcases, curtain, blankets) in hot water ideally once every 1-2 weeks.
Step 4: Cover Your Bed, Mattress, and Pillow.
After washing, you would want to cover your bed, mattress, and pillow with dust-proof covers to protect yourself against mites and prevent the buildup of dust mites’ waste particle, which can trigger allergic reactions.
If your dog sleeps with you, enclose mattresses and pillows in airtight plastic, use tape to seal zipper. I recommend, though, to buy a separate bed for your dog.
For the treatment of mites, the best bed to buy is a bed with synthetic material. Don’t buy a dog bad stuffed with wool, feathers, or horsehair since those are dust mite’s favorite food.
Step 5: Replace Carpet Flooring
If you want to make your house uninhabitable by mites, and you have enough budget, you may want to replace carpet flooring in your dog’s room or the entire home with hardwood, vinyl, or tile floors.
If you still want to use carpet, it’s better to use a low pile carpet. Low pile carpets tend to hold fewer mites than high pile ones, and easier to clean.
Step 6: Lower The Humidity in Your Home.
Mite thrives on high humidity and warm temperatures. Use either a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep your house cool. Try to keep the humidity level in your house between 30% and 50%.
Step 7: Use Filters.
If you use air-con, be sure to change the filters often. You may want to consider replacing the air conditioner filters with electrostatic filters as they are more effective in filtering out mites, dust, and other inhalant particles.
If you use vents, you may want to use HEPA filters that can effectively trap the mites and their waste as they pass through. These HEPA filters can be used on a vacuum cleaner as well.
Step 8: Freeze The Mites
There may be a few items full of mites that you want to wash you can’t. To clean those items, put them in the freezer for 24 hours then clean them afterward. After 24 hours, all the mites will die.
Step 9: Spray an Insecticide.
Bug-killing insecticide may be used as a last resort when the other steps have failed. Remember, though, that insecticide has a bad odor that can be bothersome.
If you are not sure about what you’re doing, it’s better for an exterminator to do the job.
Step 10: Spraying Borax Solution
A solution that is made by mixing borax and warm water can be used effectively to kill clover mites on your plants or the ones that have entered the house.
Step 11: Get More Spiders
Spiders eat mites, thus don’t kill spiders in or around your house and you may also want to learn how to attract more spiders.
How to Treat Mites on Dogs?
Each type of mite has different treatment methods. The first thing that you need to do is to take your dog to the vet for a thorough examination.
After determining the type of mites that your dog has and how severe the mites are, your vet will give either a topical treatment or oral medication plus an antibiotic or antifungal medication if there is a secondary infection.
There is a wide range of topical treatments for mites available on the market like shampoos, creams, powders, dips, and lotions.
In the case of mild mite infestation, your vet will most likely prescribe topical treatment solutions. Some dog owners may prefer to take a holistic approach, using natural remedies.
Whether you opt for topical treatment solutions or natural remedies, your vet should still be in charge to supervise the treatment.
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