A Complete Guide to Dog Mites

For any dog with mites it can make their life a misery! Not only do they drive a dog or puppy mad with itching they can also lead to hair loss, skin infections and secondary health problems. Well just look at the pictures!

There are a variety of different mites that can affect dogs and puppies. Each type is unpleasant but some are more unpleasant and difficult to treat than others. On this page we will focus on three including...

1. Chiggers (caused by Trombiculid Mites).

2. Sarcoptic Mange (caused by Sarcoptes Scabiei Canis).

3. Demodectic Mange (caused by Demodex Canis).

Chiggers... are also referred to as red bugs and harvest mites. These horrible little parasites are only a problem to your dog when they are in the larvae stage of their life cycle. It is more common for your pet to become infested when taken for a walk in late summer around long grass.

If you have taken your dog for a walk in these conditions start by examining your pooches coat (the larvae will look like little specks of red, orange or yellow) but you will need to look really close to spot them. One of the best places to look for the larvae is around the ears, mouth and inside the toes (this is because the fur is a little thinner in these areas). The dog mites will attach themselves to the skin and suck the blood causing frantic itching and scabs.

The normal treatment for Chiggers is through medicated shampoo (including Pyrethrin). Another treatment is through Lime-sulfa being applied.

Sarcoptic Mange is also known as Scabies. It is highly contagious (normally through direct contact) and can be transmitted from dogs to humans. The cause of Scabies is through the infestation of Sarcoptes Scabiei Canis dog mites. These nasty little parasites will live out their complete life cycle on your dog's skin - it will start with the female dog mites burrowing into the skin and leaving a small tunnel (only a few millimeters thick). Inside the tunnel they will lay their eggs which will hatch within 3 to 10 days.

After the eggs have hatched the newly born mites will also develop before laying eggs of there own - the entire life cycle will take from 17 to 21 days.

Scabies causes horrible symptoms including frantic itching and scratching (your pooch may even paw and bite at the skin as a way to ease the itching). Most of the pictures on this page are of dogs experiencing the effects of scabies.

Scabies will develop fast with the mites normally targeting below the chest, on the ears, face, hocks and around the elbows. The condition will normally start with scratching (frantic itching), hair loss and skin inflammation. One symptom that is very common with Sarcoptic Mange is for the outside of the ears to become crusty.

As your dog continues to scratch the skin repeatedly more scabs, sores and secondary infections will occur.

Diagnosis and treatment... for these types of dog mites needs to be undertaken with your vets supervision. The vet will normally start the procedure by taking skin scrapings to examine whether your dog actually has Scabies. If the test is inconclusive treatment may start regardless as a positive response to any treatment undertaken will automatically conclude that the dog has a Scabies infestation. One of the treatments that can be used as a diagnostic tool can involve the vet prescribing oral medication including Ivermectin.

Treatment for the skin problem will normally start with the vet clipping away any hair (around the infected areas) and then bathing the whole of the dog in a Benzoyl peroxide shampoo (two of the most common shampoos used by vets to start the treatment process can include Pyoben or Oxydex - although there are many).

Is it true that Scabies have developed resistance to some medications...? Well in a nutshell yes! Unfortunately some dips are no longer effective at treating the nasty little parasites most notably Organophospate dips. The most effective dips that can treat the dog mites are Mitaban and LymDip (2-4% Lime-sulfar). It is important to mention that LymDip is quite unpleasant as it can irritate the skin, does not smell very nice and can stain the skin.

How many times should I dip my dog...? For a dog with mites the symptoms can be so unpleasant that they can leave the owner very distressed too, (many dogs however do not have the benefit of a loving owner and live on the streets untreated ready to fend for themselves). Always follow the advice from your vet when using the prescribed dip. However, the normal treatment routine will involve your pooch being dipped once a week for six consecutive weeks. However, even when your pet is thought to be cured your dog should be dipped for two more weeks.

What if I have more than one dog... If you own more than one dog (or have other pets) you should treat all of them under the advice and guidance of your vet.

Demodectic Mange 'Red Mange' is caused by tiny mites that live on the hair of your pooch (and not under the skin). This skin disease will not actually cause itching but it will lead to hair loss. When the hair does start to fall it hair loss can be localized or generalized, this just means that hair loss may only affect a small area (local) or more than one area (general). If your pet has developed generalized mange then it is possible for secondary skin infections to occur.

For a dog to develop Demodectic Mange your pooch will normally not have a fully functioning immune system (this is why the skin disease is more common in younger dogs where the immune system is still developing). As your pooch gets older the immune system will become stronger (unless it is defective) and the disease will disappear on its own.

Red Mange is treated in a similar way to Scabies. You should start the treatment process by taking your pet to the vet (this should be as soon as you notice any symptoms). The vet will normally prescribe a topical skin lotion (applied directly to the skin) for localized skin problems. If the condition has affected more than one area then oral medication or a dip will be prescribed.

If your dog has mites in smaller numbers the symptoms may not be too bad. However, as they start to accumulate the symptoms will become worst causing inflamed (often in patches) accompanied with frantic itching.



1. A Guide to Ear Mites in Dogs: Discover the causes, symptoms and treatment for ear mites in dogs.

2. A Guide to Canine Lice: Discover the causes, symptoms and treatment for these nasty little parasites.


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