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Cheyletiellosis in Dogs

Cheyletiellosis on Dogs: Definition, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments

Cheyletiellosis is a parasitic skin condition in dogs caused by a Cheyletiella mite infestation. The condition leads to symptoms such as itching and skin irritation.

The Cheyletiella mites that cause cheyletiellosis in dogs occur through direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments.

Veterinary diagnosis and identification of mites occurs through skin scrapings or tape impressions, guiding the treatment process for the dog's recovery.

Treatment of cheyletiella mites involves medicated shampoos, topical treatments, or oral medications to eliminate the mites and alleviate the symptoms. 

Preventive measures such as regular grooming for ‘walking dandruff,’ cleaning bedding, and vacuuming living areas help reduce the risk of re-infestation.

What is Cheyletiellosis?

Cheyletiellosis is a skin condition caused by infestation with Cheyletiella mites, also known as walking dandruff mites. Cheyletiella mites belong to the Cheyletiellidae family and are highly contagious, spreading through direct contact with dogs and other animals. “Cheyletiella mites can cause dandruff in dogs, cats, and domestic rabbits, and can be effectively controlled with insecticides,” according to the study by Bronswijk, J., & Kreek, E. titled “Cheyletiella (Acari: Cheyletiellidae) of dog, cat and domesticated rabbit, a review,” 1976.

The microscopic pests infest dogs and feed on the skin's surface layers, causing irritation and discomfort. The mites' presence results in excessive scratching, leading to skin damage and the formation of crusts or scabs. The parasitic infestation commonly affects dogs' backs, necks, and rumps, where fur is thicker and provides favorable conditions for mites to thrive.

How does Cheyletiellosis Affect Dogs?

Cheyletiellosis affects dogs by causing intense itching, skin irritation, and the potential development of secondary infections due to scratching. Mites on a dog's skin lead to discomfort and distress for the affected animal. “Cheyletiellosis affects dogs by causing a skin infection, which can lead to a rash and possibly death,” according to the study by Chadwick, A. titled “Use of a 0.25 percent fipronil pump spray formulation to treat canine cheyletiellosis,” 1997. 

The constant itching triggered by Cheyletiella mites penetrates deeper into the dog's fur coat, creating a persistent cycle of discomfort. The scratching results in open sores, hair loss, and skin lesions, exposing the dog to bacterial or fungal infections. The continuous cycle of irritation takes a toll on the dog's mental well-being, creating a walking dandruff dog appearance, stress, anxiety, and behavioral changes.

What are the causes of Cheyletiellosis in dogs?

The main causes of Cheyletiellosis in dogs are listed below.

  • Contact with Infected Animals: Direct contact with an infected dog or cat is a primary transmission mode. Dogs that socialize with other animals, such as those in kennels, shelters, or dog parks, are at higher risk.
  • Contaminated Environment: Cheyletiella mites survive for prolonged periods in the wild. Dogs contract mites if they come into contact with surfaces or objects (such as bedding, carpets, or furniture) that an infected animal has contaminated.
  • Poor Hygiene and Grooming Practices: Dogs not regularly bathed and groomed have a higher risk of contracting Cheyletiellosis, as proper hygiene practices help remove and prevent infestations.
  • Weakened Immune System: Dogs with compromised immune systems, such as puppies, elderly dogs, or  with underlying health conditions, are susceptible to Cheyletiella infestations.
  • Crowded Living Conditions: Environments where many animals are housed together, such as breeding facilities, shelters, or multi-pet households, have a higher risk of transmission due to the proximity of animals.

How different is Cheyletiellosis from Contact Allergy?

Cheyletiellosis is different from contact allergy in dogs due to the infestation of Cheyletiella mites on the skin. Contact allergy results from a dog's hypersensitive reaction to certain substances that distress the skin.

Cheyletiellosis comprises small, white flakes resembling dandruff moving along the surface of the dog's skin. The flakes are the mites which are visible to the naked eye. The resulting image of a “walking dandruff dog” exhibits symptoms such as itching, redness, and flaky skin. Some dogs develop secondary bacterial infections due to scratching. Treatment for walking dandruff includes topical medications, medicated shampoos, and oral medications or injections.

Contact allergies are triggered by environmental factors such as pollen, chemicals, or fabrics that touch the skin. Contact allergies in dogs prompt an immune response and exhibit symptoms such as itching, scratching, licking, or chewing at the affected areas. The symptoms are localized to specific body areas that have come into contact with the allergen. Treatment for contact allergies involves identifying and avoiding the allergen whenever possible and allergen-specific immunotherapy or desensitization.

“Allergic contact dermatitis in dogs is a rare hypersensitivity disorder, with clinical diagnosis challenging and definitive diagnosis requiring restriction-provocation testing,” according to the study by Olivry, T., Prélaud, P., Héripret, D., & Atlee, B. titled “Allergic contact dermatitis in the dog. Principles and diagnosis,” 1990.

Does the Mites Cause the Walking Dandruff in Dogs?

Yes, the Cheyletiella mites cause the walking dandruff in Dogs. “Cheyletiella yasguri mites cause walking dandruff in dogs. (The dandruff that is seen “walking” is actually the mites moving about on the skin of the dog.),” according to the article by Dryden M., titled “Mite Infestation (Mange, Acariasis, Scabies) in Dogs” in Merck Veterinary Manual, 2018.  

The mites are microscopic parasites that feed on dogs' skin, causing irritation and discomfort. They create inflammation and trigger excessive shedding of skin cells after burrowing into the skin, leading to the distinctive 'walking dandruff' effect. The mites lay eggs on the dog's skin, further perpetuating the infestation cycle. The movement of mites gives the impression of shifting dandruff along the fur, serving as a telltale sign of Cheyletiella mite presence.

What does Cheyletiellosis look like on a dog's skin?

Cheyletiellosis on a dog's skin looks like red, irritated areas with flaky skin with a powdery appearance due to Cheyletiella mites. Affected dogs exhibit signs of excessive scratching and discomfort.

The affected areas on a dog's skin show a scaly texture with visible flakes resembling dandruff. The patches are prominent around the neck, back, and tail regions. “In severe infestations, movements of the mites or associated debris may be seen, hence the term “walking dandruff.” With fewer mites, the scale will be less noticeable,” according to the article of Grant, D., titled “Diagnosing and treating cheyletiellosis,” 2018. Pet owners must  look for unusual odors from these skin lesions, a sign of secondary bacterial infection.

How is Cheyletiellosis spread?

Cheyletiellosis is spread through direct contact with an infected dog or indirect contact with objects or environments where Cheyletiella mites are present. The condition is highly contagious and transmitted between dogs, cats, humans, and other mammals. “Cheyletiellosis is an uncommon but highly contagious skin parasite, and most dogs contract 'walking dandruff' from other pets at animal shelters, breeders and groomers or other areas where numerous dogs have contact with one another,” according to the article by Hunter T. & Ward, E., of VCA Animal Hospital, titled “Cheyletiellosis in Dogs,” 2024.

Cheyletiellosis is contagious among dogs and affects other animals and humans. Cheyletiella mites survive for several days away from the host, making it easier for them to spread through shared bedding, grooming tools, or living spaces. Humans contract Cheyletiellosis through close contact with infected animals, leading to skin irritation and itchiness. The rapid reproduction rate of these mites contributes to the quick spread of infestation, posing a challenge for owners to control and eliminate from their pets and homes.

What are the Symptoms of Cheyletiellosis in dogs?

The symptoms of Cheyletiellosis in dogs are listed below.

  • Excessive itching: Dogs with cheyletiellosis often experience intense itching, leading to scratching, biting, and rubbing the affected areas.
  • Dandruff-like flakes: The most distinctive sign is the large, white, flaky material resembling dandruff, which moves or "walks" due to the presence of the mites.
  • Skin irritation: The mites cause irritation, redness, and inflammation of the skin in the areas where they congregate, such as along the dog’s back, neck, and sides.
  • Hair loss: In severe cases, cheyletiellosis leads to hair loss, especially in areas where the mites have caused significant irritation and damage to the skin.
  • Secondary bacterial infections: Constant scratching and irritation create open wounds in the skin, increasing the risk of bacterial infections. The diseases cause additional symptoms such as pus, swelling, and foul odor and should be addressed by creating a program for cheyletiella mites treatment.

How is Cheyletiella Mites diagnosed in dogs?

Cheyletiella mites in dogs are diagnosed through skin scrapings or tape tests performed by a veterinarian. The diagnostic methods allow veterinarians to inspect the dog's skin under a microscope for the presence of the mites or their eggs. 

Skin scrapings involve gently scraping the affected skin area to collect samples. Adult mites are easily identifiable via skin scraping. “Adult mites can be easily identified by the presence of prominent hooks on their accessory mouthparts. Cheyletiella spp ova appear similar to louse eggs but are nonoperculated, smaller, and loosely attached to hairs,” according to the article by Berger, D., titled “Cheyletiellosis,” 2018.

Can Cheyletiellosis Make Dogs Depressed?

Yes, Cheyletiellosis can make dogs depressed. Cheyletiellosis is a physical condition characterized by skin irritation, itching, and discomfort casued by  parasites.

The constant itching, discomfort, and potential secondary bacterial infections associated with cheyletiellosis affect a dog's overall well-being and behavior. Dogs become irritable, restless, or lethargic due to the discomfort caused by the condition. The condition disrupts their sleep patterns and appetite if the itching is severe and persistent, further affecting their mood and behavior.

Cheyletiella infestation in a dog led to pruritic dermatitis, increased pruritus, and skin debris accumulation, potentially affecting its well-being,” according to the study by Shin, S. titled “A case report of Cheyletiella infestation on a Whippet dog in Korea,” 1996. Any health issue that causes chronic discomfort or pain impacts a dog's mental well-being over time.

Are there any home remedies for treating Cheyletiellosis in dogs?

Yes, there are home remedies for treating Cheyletiellosis in dogs. Coconut oil is a natural way to suffocate the mites on the dog's skin and improve skin condition. “Virgin coconut oil shows anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties in vitro, warranting its use in skin care formulations,” according to Varma, S., Sivaprakasam, T., Arumugam, I., Dilip, N., Raghuraman, M., Pavan, K., Rafiq, M., & Paramesh, R. titled “In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil,” 2018.

Other home remedies include bathing, grooming, and environmental cleaning to reduce mite populations. Home remedies help alleviate Cheyletiellosis in dogs, but pet owners must consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Veterinarians prescribe medicated shampoos or oral medications to target the mites effectively. 

Is Cheyletiellosis Considered as Allergies in Dogs?

No, Cheyletiellosis is not considered as allergies in dogs. “Cheyletiellosis is an uncommon and usually mild dermatitis caused by an infestation of Cheyletiella species mites,” according to the article by De Bellis, F., titled “Ectoparasitic infections: aetiology, impacts, and identification of mites,” 2010. 

Cheyletiellosis presents visible dandruff-like flakes on the fur of infected dogs. The mites are contagious and easily spread among pets, causing discomfort and itching. Allergic reactions in dogs to mite infestations are more generalized and involve respiratory symptoms like sneezing and coughing. Redness and general irritation are common with allergies occured in dogs and are not limited to where the mites are present, such as the localized effects of Cheyletiellosis.

How do you treat Cheyletiellosis in dogs?

The treatment methods for Cheyletiellosis are listed below.

  • Medicated Baths: Veterinarians recommend medicated baths using shampoos or dips specifically formulated to kill mites and soothe the skin. These products often contain ingredients like pyrethrins, selamectin, or lime sulfur.
  • Topical Treatments: Prescription spot-on treatments applied directly to the skin help kill mites and prevent re-infestation. These products usually contain ingredients like selamectin, imidacloprid, or fipronil.
  • Oral Medications: Oral medications are prescribed in severe cases or when topical treatments are insufficient.
  • Environmental Control: Thorough cleaning of the dog's living areas is essential to prevent reinfestation because Cheyletiella mites survive in the environment. Vacuuming carpets, washing bedding in hot water, and treating the environment with appropriate acaricides help eliminate mites from the surroundings.
  • Treatment of Other Pets: Dogs in close contact with the affected dog need treatment to prevent the spread of Cheyletiella mites on dogs.
  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Follow-up appointments with a veterinarian are important to monitor treatment progress and ensure the mites have been effectively eliminated. Additional treatments or adjustments to the treatment plan are necessary based on the dog's response.

How long does it take to treat Cheyletiella Mites in dogs?

It takes several weeks or more to treat Cheyletiella mites in dogs, depending on the infestation's severity and the selected treatment method.  Consistent treatment over several weeks is generally required to eliminate the mites and prevent re-infestation. “Milbemycin oxime treatment for Cheyletiella mites in dogs takes approximating 2 mg kg-1 orally once weekly for three weeks,” according to the study by White, S., Rosychuk, R., & Fieseler, K. titled “Clinicopathologic findings, sensitivity to house dust mites and efficacy of milbemycin oxime treatment of dogs with Cheyletiella sp. Infestation,” 2001. 

The 1997 study by Chadwick, A., titled "Use of a 0.25 percent fipronil pump spray formulation to treat canine cheyletiellosis," suggests that “A 0.25 percent fipronil pump spray formulation and permethrin spray can effectively treat canine cheyletiellosis in one month,” through topical application.

The dog's overall health, age, and immune system strength help determine the treatment duration. Secondary skin infections or other underlying health issues prolong the healing process of cheyletiellosis in dogs. Factors that help the recovery from cheyletiellosis include applying medicated shampoos, topical treatments, and oral medications as directed by the veterinarian and regular follow-up appointments to monitor the progress and adjust the treatment if needed.

Can Cheyletiellosis recur in dogs after treatment?

Yes, Cheyletiellosis can recur in dogs after treatment if environmental control measures are not implemented or there is re-exposure to the mites. Cheyletiella mites survive in the environment independent of a host. Thoroughly cleaning the dog's living areas and treating other pets is necessary to prevent re-infestation. “Cheyletiella mites have been recovered from dogs and cats, suggesting they can survive in the environment,” according to the study by Ayalew, L., & Vaillancourt, M. titled “Cheyletiella blakei infestation in a cat,” 1977.

Incomplete or ineffective treatment leads to the persistence of mites on the dog's skin, allowing the infestation to recur.

Can Cheyletiellosis transmit diseases to dogs?

No, Cheyletiella mites cannot transmit specific diseases to dogs. Dog mites do not present contagious spread, unlike other arthropods. “Ehrlichia canis is the most common tick-borne pathogen in dogs in Turkey, with Babesia canis, T. annulata, A. platys, and E. canis species identified at the molecular level,” according to the study by Aktas, M., Özübek, S., Altay, K., Ipek, N., Balkaya, I., Utuk, A., Kirbas, A., Şimşek, S., & Dumanlı, N. titled  “Molecular detection of tick-borne rickettsial and protozoan pathogens in domestic dogs from Turkey,” 2015.

Dandruff mites are a parasitic infestation caused by mites. They cause excessive scratching and skin damage in dogs, which leads to secondary skin infections and dermatitis. These secondary conditions pose health risks and discomfort to dogs affected by dog mites.

Can Cheyletiellosis cause allergic reactions in dogs?

Yes, cheyletiellosis can cause allergic reactions in dogs due to the bites and Cheyletiella mites on the skin. Allergic responses manifest as increased itching, redness, and inflammation in the affected areas. “Cheyletiellosis can cause pruritus in dogs and cats, and hypersensitivity reactions are described in both parasitic dermatoses,” according to the study by Schmeitzel, L. titled “Cheyletiellosis and scabies,” 1988.

Allergy results from the immune system's response to the proteins found in the mites' saliva and excretions, triggering a cascade of inflammatory processes. A hypersensitive dog’s immune system releases histamines, leading to the typical symptoms of an allergic reaction.

How can you prevent Cheyletiellosis from infesting your dog?

You can prevent cheyletiellosis from infesting your dog by regular grooming, parasite control measures, and environmental cleanliness to reduce the risk of mite transmission. Maintaining a hygienic living environment and using preventive treatments help safeguard dogs against infestations. 

Regular grooming is paramount to keep dogs healthy and free from mites. Brushing dogs regularly helps remove dirt, debris, and potential mites from their coat. Using specialized shampoos or dips recommended by veterinarians further protects the dog's skin against infestations.

Implementing a regular parasite prevention routine, such as monthly flea and tick treatments, reduces the risk of Cheyletiellosis. “Selamectin effectively treats canine cheyletiellosis in multidog households, providing a promising alternative to traditional treatments,” according to the study by Mueller, R., & Bettenay, S. titled “Efficacy of selamectin in the treatment of canine cheyletiellosis,” 2002.

Can CBD Oil Help Dogs Recover from Cheyletiellosis Infestation?

Yes, CBD oil helps dogs recover from cheyletiellosis infestation. CBD oil for dogs has anti-inflammatory properties that aid in alleviating skin irritation associated with Cheyletiellosis. “CBD demonstrated anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating properties in dogs' immune cells using a canine ex vivo inflammatory model,” according to the study by Gugliandolo, E., Licata, P., Peritore, A., Siracusa, R., D’amico, R., Cordaro, M., Fusco, R., Impellizzeri, D., Paola, R., Cuzzocrea, S., Crupi, R., & Interlandi, C. “Effect of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Canine Inflammatory Response: An Ex Vivo Study on LPS Stimulated Whole Blood,” 2021.

Some pet owners have reported positive outcomes when using CBD oil for dogs as a complementary approach to conventional treatments for skin conditions. CBD oil has benefits in managing certain skin conditions and promoting overall well-being in dogs, but there is limited scientific evidence to support its efficacy in treating Cheyletiellosis infestations. Consult a veterinarian for appropriate treatment options to address Cheyletiellosis effectively.