Cheyletiellosis is a rare but highly contagious skin parasite of dogs caused by Cheyletiella spp. mites. These mites crawl across skin and fur giving an appearance of dandruff moving around as they are carried by the mites and so it is also referred to as 'walking dandruff.
Usually, they hide in your dog’s skin and cause inflammation and irritation. Mites are also responsible for ‘mange’, a familiar skin condition in dogs. Cheyletiellosis is also a type of mange causing dry skin and excessive skin flaking that looks like snow on their backs.
Most dogs contract 'walking dandruff' from other infected pets at animal shelters, breeders, and groomers, or other areas where numerous dogs have contact with one another.
These Mites are species-specific although cross infestation may occur. Humans can contract cheyletiellosis from an infected pet. The infection is self-recovering since humans are accidental hosts.
Complete recovery occurs within 3 - 4 weeks after your dog is treated and the environment has been cleared.
Topical products include:
- LymDyp - Lime sulphur dips applied every 5 to 7 days for 6 dips. Dilute the solution as directed on the label.
- Ivermectin injection. Dogs must be heartworm negative before initiating therapy. This is not used in Collies, Shelties.
- Selenium sulphide shampoo - weekly once for three weeks.
Most spot-on products are also effective. Examples include:
- Revolution (selamectin) once a month for three months.
- Fipronil (dogs and cats only).
- Remove Fleas - use special flea combs.
- Ticks - use fine-tipped tweezers.
- If any swelling is found in the skin, Use a cold pack or compress.
- Baking soda and water paste to the wounds in exposed areas (don’t use it in messy fur).
- Frozen peas, corn, or a bag of frozen vegetables works well.
- Hydrocortisone or Aloe vera gel, or calamine lotion may be safe for dogs to reduce itching and inflammation.
- Give your dog an oatmeal bath.
- Check with your vet and give your dog Benadryl (one milligram per pound/every 8 hrs).
- Clean up the backyard periodically; maintain sanitary and hygienic conditions in the home.
- A wide variety of effective tick collars, spot-on treatments, and oral medications are available; Consult with your veterinarian about the best product for your dog.
- Herding dog's access to the feeding areas should be restricted, including grassy forested pathways and wooded tick-infested areas.
- Frisk your dog - in the ears, neck, belly, chest, back, and toes for any fleas or ticks.
- Flush the dog’s ear monthly with an apple cider vinegar and water solution or a commercial ear flush.
- There are medicated shampoos for pets specifically for controlling mites and other parasites.
- Mite hotspots are upholstered furniture, bedding, pillows, mattresses, carpets, or curtains in your home. When you notice a significant infestation, Wash your linens in very hot water (+130°) at least once a week to kill dust mites.
- There are air filters that can stop the spreading of dust mites. Special HEPA air filters in the vacuum cleaner, portable air filter unit, and the HVAC system effectively trap mites, dust, and skin cells.
- When the dust mites in your home are out of control, there are commercial powders and pesticides available to use for dust mite control.
There is no breed disposition.
Cheyletiella family mites and their hosts:
- Cheyletiella Strandtmanni - Hares.
- Cheyletiella Romerolagi - Small rabbits, Volcano rabbits.
- Cheyletiella Parasitivorax - Common rabbits.
- Cheyletiella Blakei - Cats
- Cheyletiella Yasguri - surface mites. These skin mites affect the skin and fur of dogs, usually found in the back of the dogs.
When they jump on humans, they affect the trunk, buttocks, and arms. Occasionally, the mites that affect dogs and cats can also jump to human hosts.
There is no reported mortality due to mites’ infection.
- Complete Blood Count
- Cutaneous Cytology - The skin sample from the dog is examined microscopically.
Most cases of Cheyletiellosis are treatable. Immunosuppressed dogs will be much more vulnerable to other diseases and conditions as well as relapses of Cheyletiellosis.
When To See A Vet
Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:
- Dandruff-like scales in the skin.
- Red, bumpy rash.
For mild infestation, once treatments have begun a quick recovery can be assured. If there is a severe infestation, it will take longer for your dog to recover.
Always adhere to your veterinarian's treatment plan and use medications as directed.
Most of the medications have to be repeated in two to three weeks to break the life cycle so that we don't just get it again from the same source.