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Mites and Your Dog

Mites live on the skin of your dog, and can make them itchy, uncomfortable and looking less than their best. Keeping your dog mite-free will keep them feeling and looking great!

Did you know there are actually many species of mites? Small and spider-like, with four pairs of legs, mites are actually a group on their own, with the smallest examples being less than 0.1mm long! Many mites are not parasites, and can actually be really helpful, for example as decomposters. 

If you are worried that your dog may have mites, read our expert advice below or contact your local surgery for more information.

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More info about mites and your dog

Mites are found across the UK, and dogs can easily pick up mites from the environment, from other dogs and from other household pets such as cats.  While there is some seasonal variety – harvest mites for example are seen in autumn – mites are present throughout the year and exposure to mites is impossible to completely prevent. 

Signs of a mite infection will alter depending on the mite in question, but there are some signs that might point to mites as a potential problem:

  • Itching
  • Excessive licking of any area
  • Patches of hair loss
  • Head shaking
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Flaky skin

If your dog is experiencing any of these signs then make an appointment with your local Vets4Pets as soon as possible.

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Thankfully, although you can’t stop your dog being exposed to mites, you can prevent an infestation developing by: 

  1. Regular anti-parasite treatments. These treatments usually come in the form of spot-ons, and may manage a range of parasites including mites. The best parasite protocol for your dog will depend on you, your dog, your lifestyle and even the season, and your vet can help you decide which regime works best for you. However you choose to manage parasites in your dog, make sure to speak to a vet about the best anti-parasitics on offer, as many over the counter treatments have poor efficacy.
  2. Considering all pets. As mites can often be transmitted between species, it is important to consider parasite protection for all the pets in the household. 
  3. Monitoring. If you see any changes in your dog’s hair coat, skin or behaviour, always get them checked over by a vet who will be able to help control any mite infestation. 
  4. Grooming. Regular grooming can help identify any changes in your dog’s skin early, which will help with effective and rapid treatment. 

If you think your dog might have a mite infection, the best thing to do is to go to your vet. They can do a full physical examination, and check your dog over from nose to tail! If there is a risk your dog may have mites, your vet will prescribe a treatment suitable for your pet, which should eliminate the mites. They can also help you plan a parasite prevention plan going forward too, to make sure your dog stays protected. 

If there is any doubt, your vet may recommend skin tests. These will look for the mites themselves, which are often invisible or barely visible to the human eye. These tests can include skin scrapes, which involve making a small graze on your dog’s skin – this is necessary to diagnose deep parasites such as demodex, and while a little uncomfortable is an important part of getting the right

Sadly, although mites may prefer one species over another, some will also infect humans if they are in close enough contact. The most common of these is the sarcoptic mange mite, which is very contagious, and highly itchy. If you think you may have been exposed to mites, always contact your doctor for advice. 

Take a look here for more information on our Complete Care Plan, which provides all your pet’s parasite protection needs for a simple monthly payment.

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