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Dog: Cheyletiellosis

General information

Other common/scientific names: Walking dandruff, Cheyletiella yasguri, Cheyletiella mites

Ectoparasites are parasites that live on the exterior or surface of an animal. The common canine ectoparasites include fleas, ticks, lice and mites. They can transmit various diseases and cause hypersensitivity and skin disorders in animals. Some ectoparasites (mites and lice) spend their entire life on the dog while other ectoparasites (fleas and ticks) spend part of their life cycle in the environment. Fleas, ticks and mites are not species specific, meaning they can infest animals of different species.

Causes

Cheyletiellosis is caused by the skin mite Cheyletiella yasguri. These skin mites live and feed on the outer skin layer and can infest dogs, cats, rabbits and people. While the Cheyletiella mite lives its entire life cycle on the dog, it can survive in the environment for several days off the dog.

Infection

Dogs acquire cheyletiellosis from other dogs, cats, rabbits or humans by direct contact. Because Cheyletiella mites can live in the environment, it is possible for the dog to become infested from contact with infested bedding, grooming equipment, carpeting etc.

Cardinal symptom

Itchiness

Symptoms

Clinical signs of cheyletiellosis include itchy, dry, scaly (whitish, gray flakes) skin most visible on the dog’s back. This disease is called “ walking dandruff” because these flakes are moving. This movement is caused by the mites walking around under the scales or dandruff. In severe cases, dogs may develop a hypersensitivity reaction to the mites which can result in red, scabby areas of skin and hair loss.

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Abb. GFQJEET1: Cheyletiellosis.
This is a photograph of the scaly, “walking dandruff” caused by Cheyletiella mites.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Cheyletiella mites includes these four techniques:

  • A skin scraping should be performed on any itching dog. This sample can be examined under the microscope to identify the Cheyletiella mite.
  • Scotch tape can be pressed onto the skin to obtain a sample and then examined with a microscope to identify the mite.
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Abb. GFQJHU6Y: Cheyletiella mite.
Photograph of a Cheyletiella mite collected from Scotch tape and viewed with a microscope.
  • These mites can sometimes be seen with the naked eye using a magnifying glass.
  • A flea comb or fine tooth comb can also be used to trap the mite for identification.
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Abb. GFQJNMLI: Flea Comb.
Photograph of a fine tooth comb used to trap Cheyletiella mites.

Treatment

There are several antiparasitic products on the market today for treatment and prevention of cheyletiellosis. These antiparasitics come in both oral and topical (spot-on) forms.

Because of the contagious nature of Cheyletiella mites, it is important to treat all pets in the household. Some pets such as cats and rabbits can be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and still carry the mites. Treatment should be continued for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Additionally, any bedding, collars, harnesses or pet accessories should be thoroughly washed and treated with an insecticide.

Prognosis

Cheyletiellosis is fairly easy to treat. Therefore, prognosis is good for dogs which are treated for these skin mites providing all the pets in the household are properly treated and the environment is decontaminated.

CAUTION

Cheyletiella mites are zoonotic and can infect people causing a redness and itchiness usually on the forearms. While the disease is self limiting and will usually resolve without treatment, it does cause uncomfortable itchiness and should be examined by a human physician. If your dog has been diagnosed with Cheyletiella mange, watch for any unexplained rashes or itchiness.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by www.enpevet.de
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