What is Mite Infestation?
The external, tiny parasites known as mites can infest and cause quite a discomfort to dogs, as well as stress on the owners. These microscopic and crab-like parasites take up house inside the pores of the skin, on the skin, on the hair follicles, and on the fur of dogs and other mammals. Their bodies are not only microscopic, but are also semi-transparent to transparent. Since they are microscopic, they cannot be seen without this device but their damage, known as a condition called mange, is quite evident.
When dogs play outside, roll in the grass and fielded areas, dig in the dirt, and become exposed to all sorts of matter, mites can come into contact with them and breed. Mites may also be transferred from dog to dog in kennels, dog parks, and simply coming into contact with another dog with these parasites. There are four common species that can infest dogs and may be highly contagious from dog to dog, as well as from dog to human. There are specific types of mites that only affect dogs, and not humans, as well.
There are two varieties of mange: demodectic and sarcoptic. Both are caused by specific mites. Sarcoptic mange is very contagious and is spread from dog to dog and is caused by the Sarcoptes Scabiei mite. Demodectic mange is caused by a specific mite known as Demodex.
Mites in dogs can come from a variety of sources and different species. Mites can cause a skin irritation and inflammation known as mange.
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Symptoms of Mite Infestation in Dogs
Whether your dog has sarcoptic mange (scabies) or demodectic mange, he will exhibit similar symptoms. Symptoms of these mite infestations include:
- Severe irritation
- Severe itchy skin
- Inflamed patches on the skin
- Hair loss
- Bald spots
- Decreased appetite
- Malaise and tiredness
There are two main types of mange known as Demodectic and Sarcoptic. Demodectic mange comes in three types. They are:
- Localized, affecting just a small number of areas on the body, usually the face
- Generalized, covering almost the whole body of the dog
- Demodectic pododermatitis, is mange only on the feet and between the toes
Causes of Mite Infestation in Dogs
The causes of mite infestation in dogs begin with the dogs being exposed to the mites, and they reproduce and live their life-cycles on or within the dog. Causes include:
- The Demodex mite coming into contact with the dog
- The Sarcoptes Scabiei mite coming into contact with the dog
- Being outdoors for very long periods of time, as in an outdoor dog that roams
- Contact with soil and decaying vegetation
- Crowded kennel exposure
Diagnosis of Mite Infestation in Dogs
If your dog is showing symptoms of dog mite infestation, contact your veterinarian and make an appointment. Once you arrive at the appointment, your veterinarian will take a closer look at his symptoms and at his affected skin irritation. He may also ask you a variety of questions about his symptoms in detail, like when they began and how long he has shown discomfort. He will also ask you questions pertaining to any at-home treatments you have tried.
In order to make a sound diagnosis, your medical professional will take blood work, perform urine testing, possibly do a fecal examination, and conduct a biochemistry profile. These are typical tests to check for baseline data to see if there is any other underlying disorder happening within your loved one.
Luckily, the symptoms of mites are obvious to a veterinarian, and once the veterinarian examines your dog he will know what to do next in order to test for a positive diagnosis. The medical professional will perform a skin test, known as skin scraping or a biopsy of a small sample and perform laboratory testing on the sample. If the skin sample comes back as positive, other tests may be conducted as well for underlying conditions, such as immune deficiency or Cushing’s disease. This will totally depend on the type of mites found. If the skin test or biopsy comes back as negative, but the dog still shows signs of irritating mange, another skin test or biopsy may be performed once again (sometimes up to three times) before the test comes back positive for mite infestation.
Treatment of Mite Infestation in Dogs
All treatment options will depend on the specific type of mite your dog has been diagnosed with. There are several different types of treatment. Many dog owners seek holistic treatment due to the possibility of harmful side-effects from the chemicals in the traditional treatments that may be offered. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about the possible side-effects. Treatment methods may include:
There is a variety of topical treatments to treat mites. Available on the market today are shampoos, lotions, creams, powders, and dips. Your veterinarian will recommend what is best for your dog, as he will know the most effective solutions depending on your pet’s condition.
The veterinarian may recommend a type of oral medication for your dog. He will prescribe the appropriate oral medication, such as Mitaban or Ivermectin, to help rid your dog of the mites.
The dog’s entire collection of bedding, brushes and combs, collars, and leashes need to be disinfected. Within the home’ the furniture, carpeting, and any blankets your dog rests upon need to be thoroughly vacuumed and laundered. Any other animals in the house should also be cleaned and treated.
Recovery of Mite Infestation in Dogs
Once your dog is responding to your treatment of choice, your veterinarian will want to see him once again for another skin test or biopsy. This will confirm if the mites are gone. In addition to a negative test, it is important to continue your dog’s recovery by strengthening his immune system with specific supplements, such as Omega 3’s, and fresh food. Herbal supplements can also be given to keep his immune system functioning at peak levels. Your veterinarian or a holistic expert can give you suggestions to help with strengthening his immunity.
Preventing future infestations is imperative to avoid another condition of mange. Things you can do to help this are to be sure your dog is not roaming outdoors for long periods of time, provide stress-free living conditions, provide a high-quality diet, and keep him away from boarding situations or any other dogs. If you must board your dog in a kennel, be sure to check for clean and sanitary conditions and verify how much contact your dog would have with other dogs. Regular grooming is another action you can take to help keep the mites at bay.
Mite Infestation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
We have little black bugs the size of a pen head all over the house. Mainly around the dogs kennel. Our dogs have had hives and took them to the vet and they said it was just allergies. Looked closer and they are all over the house. I have had allergy symptoms for the past week worse than I have ever had. Are these mites or something else???
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