How Do Dogs Get Mites On Dogs

What are Mites?

Mites are tiny arachnids, related to spiders and ticks. There are many different species of mites that can affect dogs. Mites are microscopic and can’t usually be seen with the naked eye.

Some of the most common mites that affect dogs include:

  • Sarcoptes scabiei (causes sarcoptic mange)
  • Demodex canis (causes demodectic mange)
  • Otodectes cynotis (ear mites)
  • Cheyletiella yasguri (causes walking dandruff)
  • Trombicula autumnalis (causes harvest mite dermatitis)

Mites go through 4 life cycle stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The larval and nymphal stages are when mites spread most rapidly. The adult female mite lays eggs which hatch into larvae. The larvae mature into nymphs which then develop into adults. The entire life cycle takes 2-3 weeks for most mite species.

Common Mite Infestations in Dogs

There are four main types of mite infestations that commonly affect dogs:

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. This mite burrows into the skin and causes intense itching and crusting of the skin. Sarcoptic mange is very contagious and can spread between dogs and even to humans. It is found worldwide [1].

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange is caused by the Demodex canis mite. This mite is normal fauna on dog skin but can proliferate and cause mange in some cases. Demodectic mange usually only affects puppies or dogs with weakened immune systems. It causes hair loss, scabbing, and skin infections [2].

Cheyletiella Mites

Cheyletiella mites live on the skin and cause scaling, itching, and hair loss. These mites are highly contagious between dogs and cats. They can also spread to humans and cause a temporary rash. Cheyletiella mites are found worldwide [3].

Otodectic Mange

Otodectic mange is caused by the Otodectes cynotis mite, commonly called ear mites. As the name suggests, these mites live in the ears and cause itching, redness, and buildup of dark earwax. Ear mites spread rapidly between dogs and cats sharing close quarters [1].

How Mites Spread to Dogs

Mites spread to dogs mainly in three ways:

Direct contact with infected animals

Mites can spread from dog to dog through direct physical contact, especially between an infected mother and her pups. Mites can also spread between species, for example from an infected cat or rodent to a dog. Close contact allows mites to crawl from one host to another.

Environments like kennels and dog parks

These high traffic areas can harbor mites, allowing them to jump from dog to dog. Mites can survive for short periods without a host, so just visiting an infected area may be enough for transmission. This is why quarantines are often required for boarding and grooming facilities dealing with mite infections.

From mother to puppy

Mites can spread congenitally from mother dog to puppies before birth or through nursing. The close contact allows mites to transfer via skin-to-skin contact.

To prevent the spread of mites, isolation of infected dogs is recommended. Treatment of bedding and environments is also key. Regular grooming and examinations by a veterinarian can catch infections before major transmission occurs.

Symptoms of Mite Infestations

The most common symptom of mite infestations in dogs is intense itching and scratching. Mites cause irritation that leads dogs to scratch, lick, chew and bite at their skin constantly, which can cause further skin damage. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the itching and scratching can persist even after the mites and eggs have left the animal’s body.

Hair loss is another key symptom, as the scratching and biting can lead to hair falling out, often in patches or localized areas. Hair loss may start around the ears, elbows, legs or tail base. According to Purina, hair loss can eventually spread over the dog’s entire coat.

You may also notice redness, bumps, scabs and inflammation on your dog’s skin, indicating an allergic reaction and skin irritation in response to the mite infestation. The skin may become crusty with a rough texture.

Severe mite infestations can cause the skin to become thickened and wrinkled. The irritated skin also becomes vulnerable to bacterial or yeast infections, which can complicate treatment.

Diagnosing Mite Infestations

There are a few methods vets use to diagnose mite infestations in dogs:

Veterinary Exam

During a routine wellness exam or visit for skin issues, the vet will thoroughly examine the dog’s skin and coat. They will look for signs of mites like hair loss, scabs, and skin inflammation. The distribution and location of skin lesions can indicate different types of mites.

Skin Scrapings

To look for mites, eggs, and mite excrement under a microscope, the vet takes deep skin scrapings. A scalpel blade is used to collect samples from areas with hair loss or irritation. Skin scrapings cause minor discomfort but don’t require sedation or anesthesia in most cases.

Microscope Examination

The skin scrapings are placed on microscope slides with mineral oil and examined under magnification. This allows the vet to identify the type of mite based on size and shape. Skin scrapings may also reveal secondary bacterial or fungal infections.

For a definitive diagnosis, the vet may send a skin scraping out to a diagnostic laboratory for analysis. (,-acariasis,-scabies-in-dogs)

Treating Mite Infestations

There are several treatment options for getting rid of mite infestations in dogs:

Medicated Dips and Shampoos

Veterinarians often recommend medicated dips or shampoos to kill mites. These topical treatments contain ingredients like pyrethrins, permethrin, or amitraz that are effective at killing mites on contact. Follow your vet’s instructions carefully when using these products, including wearing gloves and avoiding contact with the pet’s face. [1]

Oral Medications

Oral medications like ivermectin, milbemycin oxime, or moxidectin are commonly prescribed by vets to treat mite infestations internally. These drugs paralyze and kill mites and are given daily for a certain period. Use only as directed and under veterinary supervision, as they can have side effects. [2]

Antibiotics for Secondary Infections

If skin infections develop from excessive scratching, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to clear them up. Keeping the skin clean will allow other mite treatments to work better. [3]


Ivermectin is one of the most common oral medications for treating mites, especially demodectic mange. It can take many weeks for ivermectin to fully eliminate mite infestations, so follow-up treatments are usually needed. [4]





Preventing Reinfestation

Even after treatment, mites can reinfest dogs if proper prevention measures are not taken. Here are some tips for preventing reinfestation of mites in dogs:

Treat bedding and environment: Wash all bedding, towels, collars, leashes, etc. in hot, soapy water to kill any lingering mites. Vacuum all carpets, furniture, and dog beds thoroughly. Consider using a flea and tick spray on upholstered areas. According to Nexgard, treating the environment is key to preventing reinfestation (

Isolate infected dogs: Dogs with mite infestations should be isolated from other dogs during treatment to prevent spreading. All dogs in contact should also be checked and treated if necessary (

Regular grooming and bathing: Frequent bathing with anti-parasitic shampoo can help remove mites and prevent reinfestation. Regular brushing and grooming keeps the coat clean and allows you to spot signs of mites early (

Home Remedies for Mites

There are several natural home remedies that can help treat mite infestations in dogs. Some of the most effective include:

Apple cider vinegar – Mixing 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part warm water can help kill mites when used as a rinse after bathing your dog. The acetic acid in vinegar disrupts the mite’s nervous system. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after. See this source and this source.

Essential oils – Oils like tea tree, neem, and clove contain powerful compounds that can kill mites. Mix a few drops into coconut or olive oil and massage into your dog’s coat. Take care to properly dilute and avoid sensitive areas. See this source.

Baking soda baths – Add 1-2 cups of baking soda to your dog’s bath to help eliminate mites. The alkaline environment is not conducive to mite survival. Rinse thoroughly afterwards. See this source.

When to See a Vet

In most cases of mild mite infestations, home treatment and prevention can clear up the issue. However, you should take your dog to the vet if:

  • The itching, hair loss, and skin irritation persist or worsen despite home treatment.
  • Skin lesions, scabs, or open wounds develop from excessive scratching.
  • Signs of secondary infections emerge, like pus, swelling, or redness.
  • Your dog is lethargic, losing appetite, or seems generally unwell.
  • You notice any signs of neurological issues like imbalance, circling, or seizures.
  • Mite infestations on ears or paws aren’t responding to home remedies.

Veterinary exams and testing can identify the type of mite and any complications. Your vet may prescribe medicated dips, oral medication, or injections to eliminate mites and treat secondary infections. They can also provide advice on effectively decontaminating your home.

Don’t delay seeking veterinary care if home treatment fails to resolve the mite infestation. The longer the mites persist, the more discomfort and health risks for your dog.

Prognosis for Dogs with Mites

The prognosis for dogs with mites is generally positive if treated properly and in a timely manner. Mites are very treatable parasites, especially when caught early before the infestation spreads. With prompt veterinary care and follow up treatment at home, most dogs make a full recovery.

However, if left untreated, mites can lead to permanent hair loss and damage to a dog’s skin. The intense itching and skin irritation caused by mites typically results in scratching, biting and trauma to the skin. This allows secondary skin infections by bacteria and yeast to occur. Over time, the skin can become thickened and hard, with areas of hair loss. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, if generalized demodectic mange develops in puppies younger than 18 weeks of age, permanent hair loss is likely even with treatment.

In rare cases, a severe mite infestation can even become fatal. This usually only occurs if the dog’s immune system is compromised and unable to mount an effective response against the mites. According to VCA Hospitals[1], young dogs with a genetic predisposition for demodectic mange are at highest risk for developing fatal infections associated with mites. However, even healthy adult dogs can succumb to mites if large portions of skin are affected and become infected.

With prompt veterinary care, most cases of mites in dogs have an excellent long-term prognosis. However, owners must be vigilant about follow up care and prevention of reinfestation to ensure the mites are fully eradicated.


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