Fur Mites in Dogs

Information on the symptoms of fur mites and help to kill walking dandruff on your dog.

Select a Topic

  1. What are Fur Mites?
  2. What Causes Fur Mites?
  3. Diagnosing Fur Mites
  4. Help for Fur Mites
  5. More Information on Fur Mites

What are Fur Mites?

Fur mites, otherwise known as Cheyletiella mites are larger than most other mites affecting dogs, and can actually be seen by the naked eye if you look closely enough. These mites can cause Cheyletiella mange which is characterized by skin irritation, hair loss, itching, and dandruff. In fact, the condition is often referred to as "walking dandruff" as the mites move around under the scales and skin flakes on your pet giving the impression of moving dandruff.

Fur mites can live in the environment without a host for up to 10 days and so it is fairly common for bedding and carpeting to become contaminated if your canine has fur mites. In addition, fur mites can also temporarily affect humans causing itchiness and skin irritation, and even painful skin lesions in severe cases.

What Causes Fur Mites?

Fur mites on dogs and cats are very contagious and are easily transmitted from pet to pet through direct contact or through contact with contaminated environments. The entire life-cycle of the fur mite is approximately 3 weeks and during this time the female will lay a number of eggs. These eggs can also contaminate the environment causing re-infestation if not treated in addition to the affected pets.

Diagnosing Fur Mites

For mites can often be detected by the naked eye if you look closely enough, however, they are still quite small and a magnifying glass is often necessary. Your vet will probably examine your pet’s skin and fur with a magnifying glass; do skin scrapings, or combings to detect the fur mites and their eggs.

Help for Fur Mites

In the past, most conventional flea programs could be used to control both fleas and fur mites in dogs and cats. However, newer, safer flea products tend to be less effective that the older pyrethrin-based flea treatments. Today, conventional treatment of a fur mite infestation usually includes chemical based lotions, shampoos or dips. These products often contain chemicals such as pyrethrin, lime sulfur, fipronil, or selamectin.

An injection or oral dose of ivermectin is also a possible treatment; however, this is not an option for herding dogs such as collies as normal dosages of this drug could be fatal for these breeds.

More Information on Fur Mites

Tips for treating and preventing fur mite infestations
  • Fur mites are highly contagious and can be picked up at socialization and training classes, as well as public kennels or other contaminated environments. While avoiding these areas and activities is not always possible, it helps to know if your pet may be at risk so early signs of infestation can be picked up.
  • It is not enough to treat one pet in the household after a fur mite infestation. Because these mites are so contagious, it is important to treat each pet in the household as well as all bedding, collars, pet brushed and carpeting your pet has come in contact with.
  • Mite infestations are serious and should never be ignored. Make an appointment with your pet’s vet at the first sign of severe itchiness or hair loss.
  • Whenever possible, avoid giving your pet harsh pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals. Many prescribed products can suppress the immune system and cause toxicity build up in your pet.
  • Ivermectin is commonly used to treat mange mites however; it can be fatal to certain breeds and should not be used in Collies and other canine herding breeds to treat mites.
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