Articles Index/Cheyletiella Mite
Cheyletiella is a large mite that can cause problems in any age dog, but is most commonly associated with puppies. The parasite causes a mild skin disorder often referred to as "walking dandruff." While the problem is not nearly as severe as either Demodex or Sarcoptes, Cheyletiellosis can be a real nuisance, especially in kennels where multiple litters are raised each year.
Cheyletiella yasguri is the species that most commonly affects dogs. It is an actual tiny walking mite that is larger than most other skin mites found in dogs.
The mite is very highly contagious, especially between puppies. The most common source of infection is direct contact from one dog to another.
This parasite has a predilection for locating on the rump and along the back. It is also sometimes found on the top of the head and on the nose.
The entire life cycle of Cheyletiella is spent on one host.
Infestation with Cheyletiella produces mild scratching. This syndrome is normally not associated with hair loss unless the puppy is so irritated that it licks or bites some of its hair out. The mite, by itself, does not destroy hair follicles. The course of infection with this mite can be rather lengthy, sometimes affecting pups for many months.
The skin of pups with "walking dandruff" will appear somewhat scaly and scurfy. Often, with the naked eye or hand-held magnification, one can see the mites moving through the hair. Deep skin scrapings are not necessary to detect this mite! The easiest way to diagnose this skin infection at home is to comb through the scaly area onto a piece of black paper. Then, carefully watch to see if the tiny white specks move on the paper.
A good rule I use is this: Scurfy-looking dandruff with scratching in 2-10 week old puppies is highly suggestive of cheyletiellosis.
Fortunately, this mite is comparatively easy to eradicate. The parasite is killed by simple bathing or dipping the puppy with virtually any insecticidal product. Medications with carbaryl or pyrethrins are very effective. Treatment should be repeated three times at 7-10 day intervals.
I would suggest treating all dogs in a kennel if Cheyletiellosis is found. It has been proven that some adult dogs can harbor the organism and not appear infected. Although mites do not live long off the host, an effort should be made to clean the premises. It is even best to keep all dogs out of an infected kennel for seven days.
Any new animals being added should be carefully inspected and appropriately treated if in doubt.
Humans can become infected after contact with an infected animal. Skin lesions will appear reddened and crusty and will itch. Constant contact with infected animals is needed to maintain human infections, otherwise the condition lasts about three weeks and will clear up.
The Kennel Doctor, Foster & Smith, Inc., August 1984
ANTIC, Spring 1985
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