Treating Cheyletiella Mange (Walking Dandruff) in Cats

If your cat spends time outside or has any contact with wild animals, he is at risk for cheyletiella mange. This condition is characterized by itchy and irritated skin as well as unusual shedding and dandruff. The mange itself is caused by a parasite called the cheyletiella mite, and the resemblance of these mites to dandruff has brought about the common name of Walking Dandruff for this condition. While mange is generally not overly harmful to your pet's long term health, it is nevertheless uncomfortable, painful and unsightly, and treatments are easy to perform.

Proper Diagnosis Is Key

There are a number of different kinds of mites and other parasites that cause symptoms similar to cheyletiella mange. Additionally, there are some chronic conditions and diseases that are unrelated to parasitic infestations that may present symptoms similar to those of this form of mange. For these reasons, it is best not to assume that your pet has cheyletiella mites without first having him examined by a veterinarian.

Your veterinarian can examine your pet's physical symptoms and take a skin scraping in order to confirm the presence of cheyletiella mites on your cat's skin. Once you have determined with certainty that your cats symptoms are a result of cheyletiella mites, you can begin the treatment program.

Insecticide-Based Shampoos

The primary treatment program recommended by veterinarians for dealing with cheyletiella mange in cats is an insecticide-based shampoo. There are standard shampoos and dry treatments as well, if your pet does not respond well to baths. All of these products are available through prescription only, as they each contain an insecticide component that may be harmful to your pet or to you if used improperly.

In most cases, vets will recommend that you treat your pet with a pyrethrin or fipronil shampoo at least twice. The reason that one treatment or bath is not sufficient is that the mites themselves may be very widespread on your cat's body, and the initial treatment may not kill all of them or all of the eggs. A second and third treatment helps to exterminate all mites from your cat's body. When bathing your pet in a prescription shampoo, be careful to follow all necessary safety precautions. Some of these products require safety equipment like gloves or masks.

Treating the Home

Unlike some other parasites, cheyletiella mites are capable of surviving in the home environment without a host for several days at a time. As a result, if you rid your pet of mites, but there are still some in the home, he may be reinfested within days. Because these mites can spread to other animals in the house and even to other humans, it is necessary that you plan a fogging or spraying of your home to coincide with the treatment of your pet. Only by combining these two procedures will you ensure that all mites have been eliminated from the environment.