Skin Mites on Dogs

Skin mites are among the most common of all of the parasites that your pet may encounter over the course of his life. These mites are small insects that live on the surface of your pet's skin. They feed off of skin cells and can lead to a variety of skin conditions and complications for your pet. Fortunately, in most cases your pet's immune system will be able to eliminate skin mites before any of these conditions can arise. However, in cases in which the mites are able to overpower your pet's natural defenses, you'll need to take action to assist your pet in eliminating these parasites.

How Skin Mites Are Contracted in Dogs

There are many different types of mites that might live on your pet's skin. The exact type that your pet contracts will be dependent upon his behavior and the environment in which he lives. Skin mites can be contracted while your pet is out of doors, and particularly if he encounters another animal while outside. Skin mites can also be passed from dog to dog, as some mites have the ability to jump or to live off of a host for a short period of time. While it's generally not a concern that your pet's skin mites may transfer to you, there are a few types of mites that can live on human hosts as well as canine ones.

Problems Associated with Skin Mites

The most common problem associated with skin mites for a dog is mange. Mange is a condition that occurs as a combination of the mites feeding off of your pet's skin as well as his body's reaction to those parasites. Many dogs exacerbate the problems of mange by continually scratching, chewing, or gnawing at affected areas. This can lead to a number of unsightly and uncomfortable symptoms. The most common symptoms of mange include the following:

  • Alopecia (hair loss), typically isolated in certain parts of your pet's body
  • Loss of hair color or shine
  • Red and irritated skin
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Open sores and lesions

Diagnosing and Treating Dog Skin Mites

If you recognize any of the above symptoms in your pet, or if you think that any other symptom your pet is displaying may indicate that he has a mite infestation, take your dog in to the vet immediately. Diagnosis will typically consists of an analysis of the physical symptoms that your dog presents, as well as an examination of his medical history. Skin scrapings can help to provide clues as to what type of mite may be causing the reaction.

There are a number of treatment types for skin mites in dogs, but the most common is a medicated shampoo. You'll treat your pet with the shampoo by bathing him in it several times over the course of a few weeks. This will eliminate all mites as well as their eggs. Consult with your vet for additional information about treatment for your pet's skin mites.