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Mites in Dogs: Comprehensive Guide to Symptoms and Treatments

Mites in Dogs Comprehensive Guide to Symptoms and Treatments

Mite infestations in dogs can be very distressing for both pets and their owners. Various species of mites can infest dogs, leading to symptoms ranging from mild itching to severe skin infections. Some mites can even be transmitted between dogs and humans for real, posing a public health risk.

Common Types of Mites in Dogs

Dogs can be affected by several types of mites. Below are the most common ones and their associated symptoms and treatments.

1. Demodex Mites

Demodex mites are microscopic parasites that live in the hair follicles of dogs. These mites are typically harmless, but in young, old, or immunocompromised dogs, they can multiply excessively, leading to a condition known as demodicosis.

  • Symptoms: Hair loss, skin redness, and sometimes secondary bacterial infections. Affected areas may appear scaly and thickened.
  • Treatment: Treatment includes medicated shampoos, topical ointments, and oral medications like ivermectin or milbemycin. Isoxazoline class medications such as afoxolaner and fluralaner are also effective.

2. Sarcoptes Mites

Sarcoptes mites cause sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies. These mites burrow into your dog skin, causing intense itching and even irritation.

  • Symptoms: Severe itching, redness, hair loss, and crusty skin lesions. Symptoms usually start on the ears, elbows, and abdomen.
  • Treatment: Treatment involves medicated dips, topical treatments, and oral medications like selamectin or moxidectin. Isoxazoline class medications are also effective.

3. Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canals of dogs, causing irritation and discomfort. They are highly contagious and can spread quickly among pets.

  • Symptoms: Intense ear scratching, head shaking, dark discharge from the ears, and a foul odor. The ears may also appear red and even inflamed.
  • Treatment: Treatment includes cleaning the ears and applying prescription ear drops. Regular use of flea and tick preventatives can help prevent re-infestation.

4. Cheyletiella Mites

Cheyletiella mites, also known as “walking dandruff,” are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. They live on the surface of the skin and cause itching and flaking.

  • Symptoms: Itchy skin, dandruff-like flakes, and red bumps. The mites can be seen moving on the skin’s surface.
  • Treatment: Treatment includes topical medications, medicated shampoos, and environmental control to eliminate mites from bedding and surroundings.

Preventing Mite Infestations

Preventing mite infestations involves regular grooming, maintaining a clean living environment, and using preventive medications. Here are some tips:

  • Regularly groom and bathe your dog to keep their coat healthy and clean.
  • Wash your dog’s bedding and toys frequently to remove mites and eggs.
  • Use veterinarian-recommended flea and tick preventatives to reduce the risk of mite infestations.
  • Give your dog a balanced diet so as to support his/her immune system.
  • Do go for regular veterinary check-ups to catch any issues early.

Complications from Mite Infestations

Untreated mite infestations can lead to serious complications. These include:

  • Secondary Infections: Constant scratching can break your dog skin, which may result to bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Hair Loss: Severe infestations can cause extensive hair loss, leaving bald patches.
  • Skin Damage: Chronic infestations can cause the skin to thicken and become more prone to injury.
  • Spread to Humans and Other Pets: Some mites can infect other pets and humans, causing widespread issues.

When to See a Veterinarian

If you notice any signs of mite infestation in your dog, it’s important to consult your veterinarian promptly. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Hair loss or bald patches
  • Dry, flaky skin that resembles dandruff
  • Frequent head shaking or ear scratching

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to preventing complications and ensuring your dog’s comfort and health.

Finally, Always consult with your veterinarian to ensure the best care for your furry friend.


  1. What are the common symptoms of mite infestation in dogs?The common symptoms include itching, hair loss, skin thickening, and secondary infections.
  2. Can mites be transmitted from dogs to humans?Yes, some types of mites, such as Sarcoptes scabiei, can be transmitted from dogs to humans.
  3. How are mite infestations diagnosed?Diagnosis typically involves skin scrapings examined under a microscope to identify the presence of mites.
  4. What are the treatment options for Demodex mites?Treatment includes oral medications like afoxolaner, sarolaner, lotilaner, and fluralaner, which are available from your veterinarian.
  5. Are there preventive measures for mite infestations?Maintaining good hygiene, regular veterinary check-ups, and using prescribed preventatives can help in reducing the risk of mite infestations.


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