External Parasites, Mites, Ear Mites, Sarcoptic Mange, Demodectic Mange, Localized domodex, Generalized domodex, Cheyletiella (Walking Dandruff).

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Mites are a group of small parasites that may attack dogs. There are three main mites that might be found on dogs: the ear mite, the sarcoptic mange mite and the demodetic mite. Skin problems caused by mites are often referred to as mange.

Ear Mites

Mites are microscopic bugs that feed on the outer layers of the skin (epidermis). They live for two months and have a three-week life cycle. Symptoms are intense itching of the ears, shaking of the head, constant scratching of the ears, a dark brown waxy discharge that looks like "coffee grounds," and crusting and flaking of the upper ear canal. Occasionally, the incessant scratching may cause bleeding of the outer ear.

Your veterinarian can diagnose a mite infestation by examining a swab of the discharge under a microscope. Most cases can be treated with topical ear medications, though severe cases may need a parasiticide.

It is generally thought that mites don't inhabit the house or infect people. However, under certain conditions these mites can live in the house and cause an allergy in people similar to that of house mites. Therefore, ear mites should be considered a minor human health hazard.

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptes mites are highly contagious to dogs and humans. They cause intense itching; prime symptoms are scratching and red welts on the dog's skin. This is a mite that is difficult to find on skin scrapings. The pinnal reflex is a good indicator of this disease. Rub the ends of the pinna (ear) together and the dog will start scratching. This type of mange usually responds well to medical treatment, so get your puppy to the veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect this problem.

Demodectic Mange

This mange is caused by the Demodex mite, a cigar-shaped mite that lives in the hair follicles. These mites are normally present on all dogs and many other animals. However, when they overpopulate, they cause a severe dermatitis. These mites are transferred by the dam to the puppies shortly after birth via nursing. In a normal puppy, these mites will be kept to low numbers by a normal-functioning immune system. Puppies that are stressed, burdened with parasites, underweight, sick with other illness, or immunosuppressed will be more likely to get this mange. It is not contagious to people and is barely contagious to other normal adult dogs. Luckily, these bugs cannot live off the host, so they don't infect the house.
There are two forms of demodectic mange: localized and generalized.

Localized domodex

A few red spots on a puppy may be treated topically or may clear by themselves with no treatment.

Generalized domodex

Dogs that have more than five spots or large areas of reddened, sore skin have generalized Demodex. Dogs with generalized Demodex will need serious treatment, often with both drugs and dips combined. Since this condition is associated with a genetic defect, dogs that suffer from it should be spayed or neutered and not bred.

Cheyletiella (Walking Dandruff)

This causes intense itching and is diagnosed by skin scraping. It lives in the outer layers of the skin in dogs, cats, rabbits, and humans. It shows up as a line of dandruff down their backs. This mite is not usually a serious threat to your dog's health and can be treated by medicated baths.