Dust Mite Allergies in Dogs

Dust mite allergies in dogs are an atopic allergy, or an inhaled allergy that shows itself as a skin problem. Even though the allergen affects his respiratory system when he inhales it, your dog typically won't sneeze and wheeze as you do if you have a dust allergy.

Allergy Enemy No. 1: The Dust Mite

Dust mites are arachnids, or eight-legged creatures that are related to spiders. They eat dead skin cells that people and pets shed, and they absorb water from their environment to survive. Dust mites can be found throughout your home, but they are particularly fond of bedrooms because the potential for dead skin cells is higher in bedrooms than in other parts of the home.

How Dust Mites Cause Allergies

Dust mites eliminate after they eat, and a protein in their waste is a major cause of allergic reactions in pets and people. The decomposing bodies of dead dust mites also cause allergic reactions.

Signs of a Dust Mite Allergy

If your dog has a dust mite allergy, he will probably start to have allergic reactions when he is between 1 and 3 years old. These reactions may include:

  • Chronic ear infections
  • Consistent chewing on his feet and legs
  • Constant scratching of the ears, face, paws and belly
  • Inextreme cases, bald spots on the coat

How to Treat a Dust Mite Allergy

After your veterinarian determines that dust mites are the cause of your dog's allergy, a treatment plan can be created to help your pet feel better. Components of this treatment plan can include topical sprays, medicated shampoos or antihistamines. In more extreme cases, short-term steroid treatments may be prescribed to help heal your dog's skin and relieve his itching.

Create a Dust-Free House

To help your dog feel better, you must eliminate as many dust mites as possible. To do this, you need to have a dry, cool home environment because dust mites don't do well under these conditions. Maintaining a maximum interior temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level below 70 percent will help eliminate dust mites.

Once you have a consistent indoor temperature and humidity level, you'll need to keep the indoor air clean. Use special air cleaners in the rooms in which your dog spends most of his time, and consider adding a high-efficiency particulate, or HEPA, filter to your home's climate control system.

Now that the indoor air is cleaner, keep your home environment as clean as possible to further discourage dust mites. Vacuum upholstered furniture and carpeting frequently, and consider replacing carpeting with vinyl tile or wooden floors to eliminate locations in which dust mites can hide.

Pay special attention to your bedroom and the room in which your dog sleeps, because these are the areas in which you may find the highest concentration of dust mites. Keeping these rooms scrupulously clean will help reduce the overall dust mite population in your home.

As part of the regular bedroom cleanup routine, wash your dog's bedding in hot water weekly and dry it completely before returning it to your pet. Wash and dry your bedding frequently, too, to keep the dust mite population under control.