Skin mites on dogs are very small, round parasites that live in the skin and hair follicles of their host. They usually measure just a few millimeters in size, although some may be smaller. The most common types of skin mites seen in dogs are demodectic mites, which are generally white or yellowish-brown and oval in shape; scabies mites, which can range from white to dark brown with a spherical to cylindrical shape; and chorioptic mites, which appear as tiny yellow-white dots on the surface of the skin and often have long hair-like structures protruding from them. Skin mites can cause discomfort for dogs, leading to itchiness, reddening of the skin, and sometimes even loss of hair or lesions. If you suspect your dog may have a problem with skin mites, it’s important to take them to the vet in order to properly diagnose and determine what kind of treatment is necessary.
Introduction to Skin Mites on Dogs
Skin mites on dogs can cause severe itching, hair loss, and crusty skin. So what do skin mites look like and where are they found?
Skin mites are related to spiders and other arthropods, but tend to be very small, about the size of a pinhead. You may not see them or their organic waste (which looks like tiny spots of rust colored material) when you look at your dog’s large dog flea collar fur unless you have an advanced microscope. However, if you inspect your dog’s coat closely, especially around the ears, eyes, and folds in the skin, you might see clues that may indicate skin mites.
One obvious sign is extremely dry or greasy patches on the skin–skin mites thrive in these areas because they can’t stand cold temperatures. Another indication is excessive paw licking or head shaking as your dog tries to deal with the itchiness caused by their presence. And finally, dark crusts on the surface of the skin that result from broken blood vessels filled with filth contribute to a diagnosis of skin mite infection.
What do skin mites look like?
Skin mites on dogs are tiny, eight-legged arthropods that can cause serious skin irritation and discomfort. These mites live in the hair follicles and sebaceous glands of dogs. Though they’re microscopic, they can still be seen with the naked eye.
Generally speaking, skin mites look like small white dots inside the dog’s fur or along their hairline. Close inspection may reveal that these dots actually have legs and move around quickly, which can help you to positively identify them. In some cases, they may appear yellowish or amber-colored due to food residue from the mite’s diet of fluids from the animal’s skin.
You may also notice redness or scabbing on your pets’ skin if there is an infestation of skin mites present as these pests often cause inflammation and itching due to an allergic reaction by dogs when their saliva comes into contact with their fur. Other signs include increased scratching, licking, and biting at their fur as well as hair loss in areas where the mites are most active.
Different types of skin mites in dogs
There are several different types of skin mites commonly found on dogs. The most common are Demodex mites, which are tiny eight-legged mites that live in hair follicles and sebaceous (oil) glands. On dogs, they range in size from 0.3 to 0.5 mm and usually appear yellow-brown or grayish in color, with a slightly oval shape.
Cheyletiella, another type of mite typically found on dogs, is larger than Demodex mites and has a carrot-like shape. They have four pairs of legs and will sometimes cause inflammation and itching due to their saliva as they feed on their host’s skin cells.
Finally, Sarcoptes scabiei is a less common skin mite but it is highly contagious between both cats and dogs. These mites burrow into the skin of their hosts and can be hard to detect without treatment from a veterinarian. They appear as small white dots crawling across the skin surface and can cause severe itching for their host if not treated swiftly.
Symptoms of mite infestation
The most common symptom of a mite infestation in your dog is itching and skin irritation. Your dog may start scratching or biting at their skin more than usual. In extreme cases, hair loss or scabs may develop from your dog constantly scratching and biting the affected areas. Itching can also be accompanied by red bumps or sores on the skin that are caused by allergic reactions to the mites themselves. If left untreated, these visible symptoms could spread to other parts of your dog’s body, including the ears and wrinkles in its face. Secondary infections can occur if bacteria make its way into open wounds created by excessive itching.
Mites often take up residence near eyes, nose, mouth, inner thighs, armpits and around the tail area of your dog as these spots are warm and moist places where mites can survive. In these areas you may also find build-up of yellowish scabs from prolonged irritation from the mites’ presence. You may even be able to see them with a magnifying glass!
How are skin mites treated?
Skin mites on dogs are usually treated with some kind of topical ointment or cream. Depending on the specific type of skin mite, there may be oral medications available as well. If it is a more severe case, your dog might require more aggressive treatment like antibiotics to help clear up the infection.
In addition to medication, you can also take several steps to prevent future skin mite infections by avoiding exposure to contaminated environments and letting your pet’s fur air out after walks or swimming activities. Also make sure they are receiving proper nutrition and brushing their coat regularly helps too so dead skin cells don’t accumulate which provide a breeding ground for the skin mites.