Mites are parasites. They use the dog as a host, settle in the skin and hair and feed on the body fluids. Unlike ticks, mites do not transmit disease directly to the dog. Rather, mites weaken the dog’s immune system. Diseases such as demodicosis and scabies are the consequences. The most common mites in dogs are:
Find out what diseases these mites cause, what symptoms they use to recognize them, and how they are treated.
Autumn grass mites are a nuisance for dogs, especially in summer and autumn. Autumn grass mites are distributed differently from region to region. The vet can give you information about which areas are particularly risky. As a preventive measure, you should avoid these areas when taking your dog for walks or protect your dog from autumn grass mites with commercially available mosquito or mite spray.
The small, orange-colored larvae of the autumn grass mites lurk in the blades of grass and prefer to nest in the dog on hairless, protected areas such as on the paws between the claws, in skin folds and ears. There they feed on the dog’s body fluids until they finally fall off themselves.
You can see the larvae of the autumn grass mites with the naked eye. Since the autumn grass mites cause itching, the dog scratches itself violently. Sore parts of the body are the result, plus pustules and wheals.
The vet fights autumn grass mites in dogs with anti-parasitic agents. With mite preparations in spray, powder or bath form, you can also try to get rid of the autumn grass mites on your own. However, the treatment needs patience and has to be repeated several times until the autumn grass mites have completely disappeared from the dog.
You can also use home remedies to combat autumn grass mites in dogs. Neem oil, black seed oil and coconut oil and the lauric acid they contain are effective against mites. Use these oils only sparingly, because they can also lead to skin irritations in dogs.
Autumn grass mites sit in the grass, but also in the leaves. © Stock.adobe.com/Dora Zett
Hair follicle mites are one of the most common mites in dogs. They are also called Demodex mites because they cause the dog disease demodicosis. Hair follicle mites are found in small numbers in every dog and live in the hair follicles. Hair follicle mildness only becomes problematic for dogs when their immune system is weakened, for example due to an improper diet or worm infestation. The mites then multiply strongly, and demodicosis breaks out as a result.
Demodicosis is a parasitic, non-contagious skin disease caused by hair follicle mites, also known as demodex mites. Young dogs are almost exclusively affected because their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
Once demodicosis has been diagnosed in dogs with the help of a microscopic examination of skin scraps, the Demodex mites must now be combated. This is done locally with anti-parasitic substances in the form of baths and washes, or systemically with the oral administration of drugs or with the help of spot-on preparations. If there is a bacterial secondary infection, antibiotics and antibacterial shampoos are also used. Long-haired dogs in particular may need to shave their coat for local treatment. The treatment is continued until no more Demodex mites can be detected in at least two examinations of the skin scrap.
Scabies, also known as mange, is a seasonal, transmissible skin infection. It is caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, also known as the mange mite. The female of the mange mite digs into the skin of the less hairy regions of the dog and lays eggs and feces in the corridors created in this way. There the larvae develop into finished mites. Initially only individual areas of the body are affected, over time the mange spreads over the entire body.
Caution: Mange is highly contagious and can also be transmitted to humans! Brief physical contact with an infected dog is sufficient for immediate transmission. Infection can also take place indirectly, as the mites survive for up to three weeks even in shed skin components (scales, crusts).
Mange is treated with medication in the form of spot-on preparations or tablets. Treatment of the mange can take several weeks, but the symptoms subside quickly and the dog has a very good chance of recovery. Due to the high and indirect risk of infection, owners must pay more attention to hygiene in the household during treatment. Also, grooming utensils should either be cleaned thoroughly or disposed of immediately.