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What is Dust Mite Allergy?

Dust mites live in the home of pet owners, residing in cloth toys, upholstery, mattresses, bedding and carpeting. These mites thrive in humid temperatures, specifically the hot air exhaled during times of sleep. Dust mites feed on skin cells, environmental viruses, fungi and bacteria, but prefer the skin scales of atopic felines. Although the mites may feed on dead skin cells, the actual mite does not cause an allergic response, but rather the dust mite feces. Dust mites have a specialized protein, Der p1, which is passed in their feces and causes a feline to become hyper allergenic. An affected feline may have asthma-like symptoms, such as coughing or wheezing, paired with pruritus, hair loss and skin lesions.

Dust mites allergies in cats is a non-seasonal, allergic response to the microscopic mite commonly known as the dust mite. Dust mites are one of the most common causes of feline allergies with a surprising 30 to 80 percent of all atopic pet cases tested revealing a positive result for dust mites. The United States is home to two species of dust mites: Dermatophagoides farinae and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, however, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus is more common to the United Kingdom. 

Dust Mite Allergy Average Cost

From 441 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

A feline suffering from dust mite allergies may experience recurrent seborrhea, otitis (ear itching and inflammation), pyodermas (skin infections) and generalized pruritus, specifically on the feet or face. A feline may also show clinical signs of eosinophilic granuloma complex lesions, plasma cell pododermatitis, or chin acne. Dust mite allergies in cats will also cause symptoms including: 

  • Crusty skin patches
  • Hot spots
  • Localized hair loss 
  • Skin damage 
  • Scratching 
  • Itching 

Secondary to skin reactions of dust mites, your cat may also develop a form of allergy-related asthma. As the feline inhales the fecal dust from the mites, he or she may cough or gag, and do so in a hunched posture in an attempt to stabilize breathing. 

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Causes of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

Dust mite allergies in cats is caused by the Der p1 specialized protein found in the mites’ feces. Coming into contact with said fecal particle, the feline’s immune system overreacts, creating antibodies for the antigen. Dust mites allergies are non-seasonal, but felines may develop an allergenic condition during the fall and winter months. Likewise, an outdoor cat that is brought indoors during the cold months of the year may suddenly develop an allergy as the home is closed up, keeping the dust mites in a confined area. 

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Diagnosis of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

The diagnostic tests specific to dust mite allergies is the skin sensitivity test or the serum IgE test for the reaction to Der p1 proteins caused by dust mites. However, other mites, such as the Cheyletiella, Otodectes and Sarcoptes mite, belong to the same order of acarids, therefore, false positives can occur. For example, if your feline has Cheyletiella, she could actually test positive for dust mites too. Your veterinarian will then use your feline’s clinical symptoms to differentiate between the types of mites and retest the feline. The symptoms associated with dust mite allergies in cats mimic those of food allergies, seasonal allergies, environmental allergies and a number of infections, so a differential diagnosis will need to be made. A differential diagnosis may include a skin scraping, skin cell cytology, skin sample culture and blood test. 

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Treatment of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

Dust mites allergies in cats are treated with immunotherapy and changes in the environment. Subcutaneous or sublingual administration of cyclosporine corticosteroid drugs is the norm for immunotherapy treatment prescribed by veterinarians for feline dust mite allergies. However, the most important portion of the treatment plan is treating dust mites at home. Vacuuming and cleaning carpets once a week, dusting in combination with routine sweeping will eliminate allergy causing dust mite feces in the home. Cat owners are advised to wash all cat bedding and their own bedding if the feline sleeps in bed with their owners. The washing of bedding can take place once a week in combination with sweeping, dusting and vacuuming. 

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Recovery of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

Felines generally respond very well to immunotherapy treatments, but in order to prevent a recurrence, pet owners must keep a clean home. Changing the air filters in your home heating and cooling system can greatly reduce dust mite allergens in the air. Pet owners can also wash their bedding with tea tree oil or steam clean their mattresses, as studies show these methods result in an even higher elimination rate than regular cleaning. There is also a varieties of hypoallergenic pillow cases and bedding available that are said to discourage dust mites. 

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Dust Mite Allergy Average Cost

From 441 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Dust Mite Allergy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Freddie

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Tuxedo

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sores
Loss Of Fur

Hello, our cat has been tested for allergies and found to be allergic to two types of dust mite and one type of storage mite. His condition (fur loss, sores) is being kept under control wqith steroid tablets but this is less than ideal long-term. It has been suggested that there is an immunotherapy vaccine available for cats with this condition, but that it is experimental (unlike a similar treatment for dogs, which apparently is more proven). Could you please advise of the approximate success rate for cat immunotherapy vaccinations for cats? Are there any potentially harmful side effects? Finally, could you please tell me the approximate cost of the vaccine? Thank you in advance.

Jan. 19, 2018

Freddie's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. If you are referring to immunotherapy injections or oral treatments to try and decrease the signs of atopy for Freddie, it is used in cats, but not as commonly as in dogs, as they don't tend so suffer from atopy as often as dogs do. In dogs, it helps with about 75% of dogs to decrease signs - I would imagine it would be a similar percentage in cats, but I'm not sure there are enough cats being treated to have a valid percentage. If Freddie is suffering from long term allergies, it would be worth trying to avoid steroids, I agree. There are similar side effects to any vaccination, and your veterinarian would probably want to monitor him in the hospital for the first few injections to make sure that he doesn't have any allergic reactions to the therapy. You would have to ask your veterinarian about the cost, as costs vary depending on the area that you live in. There is also a medication called Apoquel that might offer relief for him with fewer long term side effects than steroids - you can talk with your veterinarian about whether this might be an option for him based on his general health status. I hope that everything goes well for him.

Jan. 19, 2018

So sorry Freddie's Owner! Be very very careful with medications that are sometimes overly prescribed for pets and seek a natural remedy if possible. I found myself with an issue with my babies and is worrying me as to what will be prescribed. More times than not in the past year, the meds that are pushed onto our fur babies cause worse side effects and unfortunately death. #1 side effect seems to be between diabetes and seizures or both anymore. Prayers to you - I'm freaking out. Don't know if the health issue or what medical steps to be taken are freaking me out worse. Over a dozen deaths in less than a year from associates giving pets prescribed medication has me on high alert. Love=best medicine. (My baby was hit 5 times!!!! And still by my side. Thank GOD! and his love for me is how he was hit every single time. He darts for me) Found an herbal pet site that I prefer. Explains how heart worm medicine is one of the first mistreated/rip off med there was. Give my babies crushed pumpkin seeds for treatment more than not. And dog eats TISSUE, a lot! So many times would have cost me a fortune to operate and clear her intestines... But every time I fed her pumpkin out of the can....and every time EVERYTHING came out. Can't live without one of my rescues but a domestic violence survivor in hiding... HAVE to have my dog. And she seems to know her protective role and takes it seriously. Hugs, prayers and do research.

Feb. 1, 2018

Cassie G.


Thank you for your swift response. I was indeed referring to the immunotherapy injections. I will mention the Apoquel, and see what the vet says – it was helpful to have this second opinion from you. Thanks again and kind regards!

Jan. 19, 2018

Freddie's Owner

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Tut

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domestic short hair

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Ichyness And Bad Teeth

Hi, Before I start in, : feedback is GREATLY welcome. My girl Tut is seven years old and has had issues since 2015. Her symptoms are: a bald tummy patch, very itchy ears (often waxy), horrible teeth (a number of which have been reabsorbed and caused great pain) and lastly, a constant need to scratch herself. Two years ago she was put on Prednisone and a human allergy medicine called Zyrtec. The meds were prescribed as she tested positive for, among other things, "regular" dust mites. I am now pondering immunotherapy shots. My vet says the success rate is 66%. Has anyone tried to mitigate allergies this way? Thank you! M

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Katie

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Pretty Moggie

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

My cat is tearing her fur out - leaving open weeping sores about an inch or so across. The sores are only around her head and neck - where she cannot reach to clean herself. My vet prescribed six monthly steroid injections. They had absolutely no benefit at all. The symptoms only developed after having a litter of kittens and being spayed. What can I do?

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Ozzy

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moggy

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding
Swollen Eyelids
Scratching

Hi My 13 yr old cat has a mite or flea allergy and has had swollen eyelids and itching around his eyes and ears. Scratching is causing bleeding and a lot of discomfort and he tries to use his paws to wash it away. I've so far spent over £200 at the vets and he's had 3 steroid injections, antibiotics and frequent anti flea treatments. I've tried combing him daily with a nit comb (avoiding sore areas), washing his face and applying pet tea tree cream for itchy skin. All to no avail. The steroids did clear his face up but the itching has come back again and I dont want him to take him back to the vets again. What else can I do?

Dust Mite Allergy Average Cost

From 441 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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