5 Places to Look for Mites on Your Dog

Dog mites can be found in various forms including demodectic and sarcoptic mites and walking dandruff . The mites that cause mange or scabies can't be seen with the naked eye. A skin scraping must be taken from the dog and examined under a microscope. By identifying the symptoms of mange on a dog, however, owners can find the proper treatment.

Types of Mites and Mange

Demodectic mange, also known as demodex or red mange, is caused by mites that live on hair follicles. These mites are often passed from a mother to her puppies and usually never affect the dog, which becomes a carrier of the mites. Puppies with poor immune systems are more likely to develop red mange from the mites, but most dogs develop immunity and are not harmed. It is rare that demodex is spread to humans.

Sarcoptic mange is more common and has stronger symptoms. Also known as scabies, this type of mange is highly contagious to humans and other animals and can be harder to diagnose. Scabies is a result of mites burrowing into skin and can affect any area on the dog's body.

Cheyletiella mites are the cause of a condition known as Cheyletiellosis or walking dandruff due to the movement of mites under dry scaly skin. This infection is highly contagious between dogs and other animals and can be passed on to humans.

Where to Look for Symptoms of Mites

  • Inside the Ears: Ear mites (otodectes cynotis) live inside a dog's ear canal and cause intense itching and head shaking. Dried blood is often found in the ear canal and is a main symptom of ear mites.
  • Outside the Ears: The margin of the ears is one of the most common places affected by sarcoptic mites. The tips and edges of the ear become itchy, crusty and tend to bleed.
  • Face and neck: Demodectic mange is often seen on the face and neck of dogs, starting as pink or red spots and growing into darker dry patches causing hair loss and itching.
  • Legs: The fronts of legs are another common area for demodex symptoms to appear.
  • Back: Walking dandruff is most often seen on the back of dogs, though the infestation affects the skin on all areas of the body.

What to Look For

Sarcoptic mange is often diagnosed as allergic dermatitis because the sarcoptic mites causing the symptoms are not usually seen, even with a skin scraping. Symptoms of all types of mange include itchiness, redness, hair loss, and dry crusted skin lesions. These symptoms are similar to those found in fly bites and skin allergies so a trip to the veterinarian is essential for an accurate diagnosis.