Mites – A skin nuisance your dogs and cats should live without

Mites, microscopic arthropod parasites that, for the most part, infect the skin or mucous membranes, commonly afflict dogs, cats and other animals such as birds, reptiles, and rabbits. They can invade the ears or cause mange by invading the skin.

Ear mites

Ear mites are very common on cats and can be found occasionally on dogs. They live primarily in the ear canals and can cause severe irritation.  Because they are easily transmitted between pets, all pets within the household should be treated if one pet is found to be infecte.They are easily transmitted between pets, so if they are found in one pet, all pets in contact should be treated.

Mange – A persistent, contagious skin disease caused by mites

Mange comes in three varieties: Demodectic, Cheyletiella and Sarcoptic. It is caused by different species of mites:


Demodex is a mite that all dogs are exposed to, but few develop symptoms from. In young puppies, it usually causes small areas of hair loss especially on the head and front legs. Adult dogs tend to show more generalized symptoms, red, itchy skin lesions. Adult dogs that develop Demodex usually have another disease such as hypothyroidism, Cushings, or cancer that suppresses the immune system allows the Demodex to increase in numbers and cause lesions. It is now recognized that cats have their own species of Demodex, but it is much less common. Some types of demodectic mange will go away on their own. Others require extensive treatment under the care of a vet.


The mite Sarcoptes gives dogs and humans a skin disease called scabies. Scabies causes the host to become intensely itchy and the disease is highly contagious. Humans have their own species of Sarcoptes which causes scabies in humans, but it is possible for a human to develop lesions from the dog specific scabies mite.


The Cheyletiella species of mite afflicts dogs and rabbit. It can be seen under a magnifying glass and is fairly large and reddish. It is especially prevalent in puppies and is characterized by large flakes of scale sometimes referred to as "walking dandruff".

There is no single treatment that will kill all types of mites; your veterinarian can advise you about the various treatment options for each type.
If you think your pet is suffering from mites, contact one of our westside Santa Cruz vets today. We'll get your pet back on the road to recovery.
Companion Animal Hospital, a Santa Cruz, CA veterinary office  • 2301 Mission Street • 831.425.1970

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