Mites are external parasites that can cause severe itching and discomfort. There are four distinct species of mites that infest dogs. Mange is a skin infection caused by tiny parasites of two types of mites – Demodectic and Sarcoptic – the later being highly contagious.
The four different species of mites you will find on a dogs skin are:
• Demodex canis – demodicosis
• Sarcoptes scabiei – scabies (mange)
• Otodectes cynotis – ear mites that can lead to ear infections.
• Cheyletiella yasguri – causes a disease called cheyletiellosis, also known as ‘walking dandruff’
The Demodex Mite (Demodex canis)
Demodectic mites are the most common form of mange in dogs. They are a normal part of the flora of canine skin and live in the hair follicles and are normally harmless. They’re passed to pups from their mothers a few days after birth.
Thankfully, in the majority of cases Demodex mites, most dogs develop an immunity to them early on in life. Once this immunity has developed the mites cause no symptoms. A dog with a healthy immune system keeps them under control.
Dogs at higher risk of problematic infestation include:
• Adult dogs or puppies with weak immune systems
• Young dogs may develop patches that can go away with or without treatment
• Elderly, sick, neglected or stray dogs with weak immunity
• Diseased dogs with cancer or diabetes
As the mite population on the dog increases, symptoms of demodectic mange may appear. These symptoms include hair loss (especially on the face) and skin thickening. You may notice bald patches or increased scratching, though most dogs with demodectic mange don’t experience severe itching.
Demodectic mange on healthy puppies usually resolves itself over time. But sick or otherwise weakened dogs have a much harder time fighting it off, and that’s when things become concerning. Untreated demodectic mange can lead to staph or yeast infections. These conditions are far more serious and can be life-threatening if not promptly treated. They only live on canines, so they won’t spread to humans or other pets.
The Scabies Mite (Sarcoptes Scabiei)
Far more serious is the Sarcoptes mite – it is one of the nastiest dog parasites out there. It causes scabies, a painful and unsightly condition that can be deadly if left untreated. Sarcoptes mites burrow under the dog’s skin, making them very difficult to spot. If your dog is infested, you’ll see the symptoms before you see the mites themselves.
Scabies starts out with intense itching and red skin, particularly in areas with thin hair like the belly and armpits. Hair loss will usually occur, revealing hard, dry, crusty lesions on the skin. As the condition worsens, the lesions left by the mites can become infected. This can lead to fever, vomiting, lethargy and other serious symptoms.
Unlike Demodex mites, Sarcoptes mites can be transferred from your dog to you. If you’re infested, you’ll experience the same itchy skin, redness and crusty lesions as your dog.
The Ear Mite (Otodectes Cynotis)
Ear mites, as you might expect, live in the ear and cause many of the same symptoms as other mites: itching and redness.
You’ll notice your dog scratching its ears relentlessly and shaking its head roughly. These actions can lead to lesions, swelling and pain.
You may also notice black debris in and around your dog’s ears. It’s a telltale sign of ear mite infestation, as other pests don’t cause this symptom. Puppies and sick dogs are most likely to be afflicted with ear mites. But any dog of any age could be susceptible, so check your dog’s ears regularly for signs of infestation.
Walking Dandruff Mite (Cheyletiella Yasguri)
The name says it all: it looks like a tiny dandruff flakes moving around on your dog’s skin. It’s fairly uncommon as it’s controlled by most topical flea medications, but infestation still happens. As with the other dog mites, walking dandruff causes severe itching and redness. You may notice a rash consisting of small red splotches, against which the mites are often easily visible. Walking dandruff is highly contagious and can affect cats, humans and rabbits in addition to dogs. Quick diagnosis and treatment is essential to avoid your household becoming overrun with the mites.
Signs Of Mange
Symptoms for both Dimodex and Sarcoptes mites are very similar. Mites thrive in hairless areas – you’ll find them on the inside of the ears, armpits, and belly. You’ll also see:
• Extreme itchiness, intense scratching and flaky skin
• Skin rashes
• Skin will be red and inflamed
• Bumps as the mites burrow under the skin
• Patches of hair loss through chewing and scratching
• Scabs and crustiness
• Open sores and secondary skin infections
• Possible swollen lymph nodes
Other signs mange is causing your dog’s itching is…
• Treatments for allergy relief or skin irritations don’t work
• In sarcoptic mange, small bites or track marks on your dog’s skin
• Demodectic mange has a yeasty odour and you may see blackheads or an acne-like rash
Rats, Cats and Mice as well as Foxes and Wombats are known carriers of sarcoptic mange, the later making it more common in rural areas.
Treating Demodex Mites:
Most Demodex mite cases have no effects on your dog and don’t require treatment. But if you suspect that your dog is showing symptoms of demodectic mange, visit a vet for a diagnosis. Your vet will take a small skin sample and examine it under a microscope. This is necessary to confirm that the mites are Demodex canis and not another, more serious species.
Localised mange can be treated with a topical medication. More widespread mange can be resolved with a soothing bath. Your vet may also prescribe oral medication. Since dogs with demodectic mange are usually immunocompromised, it is important to follow your vet’s instructions.
Treating Sarcoptes Mites:
Veterinary care is essential when treating scabies. There aren’t any reliably effective home remedies, and the risk of the condition worsening is too great.
Your vet will take a skin sample to check for mites, but these often turn up negative as the mites burrow too deep. Even if no mites are seen, the vet will likely prescribe scabies medication just in case. These medications typically include flea and tick preventatives.
Treating Ear Mites:
Mild cases of ear mites may resolve themselves or you can use Apple cider vinegar to clean the ears, which acts as an antiseptic because it is bactericidal and fungicidal. Simply prepare a solution of water and apple cider vinegar in equal parts, soak a cotton ball with the mixture and gently clean the outer ear. Do not rinse.
Of course if the problem persists, the a veterinary visit may be necessary.
Home Remedies for consideration:
There are a number of home remedies for the treatment of mange that can relieve the clinical signs and serve as a supplement to the main form of treatment.
Aloe Vera gel is also a very effective home remedy for mange mites and helps relieve the pain it causes. It should be rubbed directly over the dog’s skin and left to dry naturally.
• Apply aloe vera to your dog topically
• Or add it to his diet raw or in supplement form
Aloe vera gel or pulp is moisturising, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties help soothe the skin and relieve itching and irritation caused by mites. It can be extracted directly from the plant or purchased as pure aloe vera gel. This natural remedy for mites in dogs can be applied to the affected skin 2 to 3 times a day.
Soothe Your Itchy Dog With Honey – With antibacterial quality, honey is one of the most effective home remedies for mange mites in dogs. Honey can help your dog overcome the annoying symptoms including itchiness and pain.
• Apply honey to your dog’s itchiest areas
• Also focus on areas with abrasions
• Let sit for several minutes before rinsing
Apple cider vinegar applied diluted to the skin can kill mites and make the skin or fur unappealing for future infestations. Being as strongly acidic as lemon, it is definitely one of the best natural home remedies for mange mites in dogs. It can enable your dog to get rid of irritating symptoms like redness or itchiness. Remember, the vinegar should not be applied directly over the skin because it may cause some burning sensations and make your dog irritated.
• Add ½ cup apple cider vinegar to a warm bath
• Add ½ cup of borax and make sure it dissolves
• Let your dog soak & sponge onto areas you can’t reach
• Let the solution air dry without drying it off.
Apple cider vinegar has both antiseptic and antibacterial properties that will also help heal your dog and create a pH balance necessary for the skin to heal. Be careful not to get the mixture in your dog’s eyes or mouth. Also, make sure your dog does not lick the mixture, as swallowing borax can be harmful.
Try Applying Or Feeding Coconut Oil
• Apply coconut oil to your dog topically
• Or add it to his diet raw or in supplement form
Using Diatomaceous Earth:
Diatomaceous Earth is made from fossilised algae remains and is effective for a wide range of pest issues. It serves as an excellent dehydrating agent that eliminates mites within a short period of time.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe to use and poses no health risks whatsoever. It will readily kill mites and other bugs – just sprinkle a thin layer around infested areas.
Mites are best treated from the inside out. Good nutrition, exercise and exposure to natural light.