If you doubt that your best friend might get infested with mites, there is no reason to panic - today you’ll learn how to get rid of mites in dogs.
Unfortunately, mites in dogs are common almost as flu is among humans, but don't let that discourage you.
Of course, having problems with mites is not harmless at all, but if you are taking good care of your dog's hygiene and grooming them regularly, there is no place for fear. Remember, a clean dog is not the place where mites want to hang out.
Most dogs experienced their first mite infestation in the early stages of their lives. Just a few days after birth, mostly all puppies get mites from their mothers during nursing. Mites are small parasites that live on your dog's skin and fur. In fact, you can find them almost everywhere.
For some mite species, dog skin & fur are a natural habitat, and as long as their population is under control, they are mostly harmless for both humans and dogs. On the other hand, some mite species can cause a lot of complications for your doggo’s health.
If you never experienced mite infestation with your dog, I am sure you are unaware of how to recognize them. My advice is that the minute you notice that your dog is behaving strangely scratches a lot more than usual, react immediately before the problem becomes more serious.
Last Updated: July 30th 2021
What Are Mites And How To Spot Them?
Mites are tiny little creatures and long distant relatives of spiders. They are mostly being overlooked because of their small size, just under 1 mm.
As I already mentioned, you can find them anywhere and when I say that I really mean anywhere. They live in water, on plants, in soil, on birds, dogs, in stored products (old books), and on human skin.
Yeah, they sound gross but don’t fret - most of the mite species are harmless to humans and mammals in general.
Still, there are few parasite species that can cause allergies or transmit diseases. That's why I will focus more on mites that are mostly known for causing the mange, ear infections, and walking dandruff.
Types of dog mites diseases, symptoms, and how to recognize them
Usually, there are four different species of mites you can find on dog skin.
The first two species are the main cause of disease like demodicosis and scabies, also known as mange. Mange is a type of skin disease that causes hair loss and skin infections in nonhuman mammals.
The third species is ear mite and will cause ear infections.
The fourth one causes a disease called cheyletiellosis, also called walking dandruff.
Here I will quickly walk you through all four types of diseases:
This is a disease caused by Demodex canis, and it will commonly occur on young dogs, and badly neglected dogs. This type of mites lives in the hair follicle of all dogs (passed from mum to pups). Most dogs will develop immunity to infection caused by this mite.
The problem occurs when dogs’ immune system becomes endangered. From that moment, mites will cause hair loss, skin thickening, and in a worst case scenario, secondary infections with other organisms like bacteria and yeast (lesions). The infected dogs will not itch unless they enter the phase of secondary infections.
Scabies is a mite infection caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, and it can be transmitted to humans and other dogs. After infection, these mites will burrow themselves deep in the skin and cause red scaly skin, constant itching, hair loss, and secondary skin infections (lesions).
It is very hard to diagnose this infection because mites are located deep in the skin and the skin scrapes from infected animal rarely show positive for this infection. The symptoms will first show in areas with thin hair, such as armpits and groins.
This infection is most common for puppies, and it is rarely seen in older dogs. These mites can cause some serious health issues for your dog, but fortunately, they are easy to diagnose and treat.
Ear mites symptoms are black, dry debris, and extreme itch.
Because of that extreme itching, your dog will shake its head a lot more than usual, which can lead to rupture of the blood vessels in the ear, causing swellings and pain.
The walking dandruff is a disease caused by mites that live their whole life cycle on a dog. They look like a dandruff flake, and you can see them move on the fur.
They will cause intense itch, and in an advanced stadium of infection, the skin will be covered in a red rash. It is very easy to diagnose them under the microscope, but there is no special treatment for them.
I can recommend you to bath and use sulfur dips every week to reduce the number of mites and alleviate the symptoms of infection.
How To Treat Dogs With Mites?
After determining that your dog might have some kind of mite infection, it is time to develop a plan of treatment. Of course, consulting your vet is always the best option, but if you are positive with what kind of disease you are dealing with, you can treat your dog from the comfort of your home.
There are many antiparasitic shampoos on the market nowadays that can help you get rid of these stubborn parasites. You can buy them at almost all pet shops, but if you decided to do this kind of treatment, always consult your vet before purchasing a shampoo on your own.
My Personal, Easy-To-Do Homemade Mites Treatment
After years of working with dogs, I found out the perfect recipe to treat mite infections, and today I am going to share this recipe with you.
The treatment plan that I am going to outline here is remarkably simple, and it does not require a whole lot in the way of materials.
You will need:
- Hydrogen Peroxide - 1% is best if you can find it immediately, but any solution 3% and under will do just fine. If you can't find the 1% solution, I will show you how to dilute it to the proper concentration in the following section.
- Borax Powder - It is all about the Borax. It is our main ingredient, but you don’t need to purchase a lot.
- Your Dog's Cooperation - Unfortunately, for many owners, this will be the hardest part.
- A soft cone for your dog - Optional
This really shouldn’t end up being too expensive of an affair, and if the treatment works properly, then you’ll also be saving some money on veterinarian bills at the end of the day.
Borax is mostly sold as a detergent, and it’s pretty easy to find it in stores. If you’re really stretched and can’t find it, then you can buy it online in bulk amounts for an affordable price.
The soft cone is labeled as optional, but if your dog licks itself frequently no matter what the consequences might be, then it’s time to make the investment. They can be found online or at your vet’s office without breaking the bank.
Just follow these few simple steps and I guarantee you that in no time the mite infections will be a past.
1) Create The Base For The Solution
Now, if your dog has mites, make sure not to panic. Acquire all the chemicals I listed above, and you are ready for action.
Your first step is going to be to mix the base for the solution. Calm down; this isn’t rocket science, trust me - you will do fine.
The hydrogen peroxide solution I mentioned above should be at 1% before you proceed with mixing. So if you were unable to purchase a solution at that exact concentration, you'd need to dilute the one you have. You’ll do that with adding enough water to bring it to roughly that level.
Most solutions are sold at 3%, so the simple addition of two parts of water to one part of the chemical will be enough to get you at the right concentration. For instance, if you take one cup of peroxide, you will need to add two cups of water to dilute it.
2) Finish The Solution
After this, it is time to add the Borax. Add a tablespoon of the powder for every two cups of the solution you’ve made. It’s best to make up at least 1.5L(or six cups) at a time in order to have enough for the treatment itself.
Larger dogs will require more, and particularly small dogs may not require as much. You can always store the excess if you make more than necessary. I will rather advise you not to worry too much about making an exact amount because you never know when you will need it again.
Borax can sometimes be notoriously hard to dissolve in solution. It should dissolve pretty well if you use one tablespoon per 500mL of solution. But if you’re still having trouble with getting it to dissolve, then the key is in gently warming the solution and stirring.
I know what you've been thinking, but a stove or microwave is no good in this operation. High temperatures will downsize the amount of hydrogen peroxide, or it can even remove it completely.
Instead, place the solution on a window sill or somewhere else where it can get direct sun for an hour or so and come back to stir it. You’ve now got yourself a pretty effective treatment on your hands, and it’s time to use it.
3) Apply The Treatment
Before applying the Borax treatment, shampoo your dog using good quality dog shampoo. Never use a shampoo that is made for human use because it is not ph-balanced for your dog's skin and can make the inflamed skin situation worse.
After you thoroughly washed your dog (particularly pay attention to areas under the armpits and groins), double-rinse the pooch. This way, you will make sure you remove all shampoo residue.
The treatment is amazingly easy to apply. Use the measuring cup to apply the solution all over your dog's fur. Make sure your dog's fur is soaked in it, especially around tail and paws. Make sure to apply it even in areas where the symptoms aren’t present in order to ensure that you kill all of the mites you can.
The tricky part is how to apply the solution on your dog's face. Pour a small amount of solution in your hands and carefully apply it all over its face; make sure no solution comes in contact with the doggo's eyes. If, in any case, your boy has lesions, no matter if they are bleeding or not, make sure you don't massage the solution in those areas.
Don’t rinse the solution off with water at the end of the session; you’ll need to leave it on in order to maintain its efficacy. This does present a complication; however, if your dog licks enough of the solution off of himself, it can cause him to become mildly ill.
Since none of us are big fans of dog vomit on the floor or sick pooches for that matter, you’ll want to make sure to find some way to prevent your pupper from licking himself until the solution is settled in.
Many people opt to use those cones you get from the vet when your dog gets stitches - they’re readily available online and make for a simple solution. Most dogs won’t like it much, but it’s better than letting them get ill by a long shot.
Pro tip: Never use the hairdryer. Don’t towel the dog off if you don't need to, use the towel only if it's cold outside and your dog must remain in a warm room. The best way is to let it dry naturally in the sun. After Borax bath, always apply some kind of lotion because it can be pretty dehydrating for the skin.
4) Disinfect Your Home
The hard stuff is mostly over at this point. The easiest way to disinfect your home is hardly going to be a surprise at this point. Sprinkle some borax powder on your carpets and around the house - in general, sprinkle anywhere you think mites might be hiding.
It’s probably best to apply some extra powder to all the places you know your dog often visits when he wants to take a quick nap or lay down to chill. After you apply the Borax powder, make sure you leave it in for at least 24 hours and then vacuum it.
It is crucial to disinfect your dog's grooming tools; spray them with some of the leftover solution from the medicated bath. Wash your dog's bedding, towels, and blankies in hot water with one cup of Borax and dry it in the dryer on the highest setting.
If you have any other pet that may come in contact with your infected dog, consider a Borax bath for it at least one time following the first month of infestation.
Some people go so far as to cover their furniture and go through all sorts of protocols, but in a lot of cases, they’re just going overboard. Feel free to do so if you’d like, but as long as you give it a good shot, you’re likely to be able to prevent re-infestation for your unfortunate dog.
Pro tip: Right now might be a good time to keep your dog in a single room that you disinfected before applying the solution. Ingestion of borax powder by a curious dog is just going to make them sick.
5) Repeat The Treatment
With all of that done, you’ll want to repeat the treatment once or twice a week for a few weeks. At this point, they should be showing obvious signs of getting better, and their hair should be coming back in.
I found that this schedule works best:
- Week 1 - Use the Borax bath every other day
- Week 2 - Use the Borax bath every 3 days
- Week 3 to 6 - Only once a week
- Week 6 to 12 - Once a week every other week
Remember not to let your dog ingest any of the borax solutions, and you’ll be fine. But just to be sure, I will list you the symptoms that may occur if your dog ingests the Borax:
- loss of appetite
If you notice any of these after the Borax treatment, you’ll know why it happened.
It might seem a bit tedious to repeat this without absolutely immediate results, but unfortunately, dog medicine, much like human medicine, rarely just works without any complications right off the bat.
Dog Mites Prevention Tips
You can easily get ahead of mite infestation and ward them off by taking everyday precautions that will help keep your pooch healthy and hygiene on maximum.
When you are giving a bath to your dog, use all-natural pet shampoos. Always make sure that water won't come in contact with your dog's ears because excessive moisture can cause ear infections. Freshwater and high-quality food are crucial. The food must strengthen your dog's immune system, not the opposite. You can even opt to include some immune-boosting supplements.
Wash your dog's toys, bedding, and towels on a regular basis. If your dog has a long coat, make sure you are getting it brushed and combed each week and trimmed when necessary. If you decided to sign your dog to daycare, make sure you are well informed about their sanitary standards.
There is nothing nobler than adopting a stray or a shelter dog, and I am fully supportive of that. But before taking it to his new forever home (especially if you already have a dog or a cat), take a quick trip to your vet and check if there is any sign of mite infestation.There are a lot more natural remedies for mange diseases like apple cider vinegar, Aloe Vera, lemon, or natural honey. But use them with great caution cause some may present a great risk for your dog if ingested.
When Is The Time To See The Vet?
Most of us use home remedies to try and avoid vet bills. While the mange caused by mites is unsightly, it rarely becomes life-threatening. However, if your dog isn’t responding to the borax treatment within a few weeks, it’s time to bite the bullet and see the vet.
From there, it will be up to you to follow their instructions, just be sure to let them know that you’ve tried the borax solution when you go in, so they have adequate information to work with.
How to Get Rid of Mites in Dogs - Conclusion
As I already explained, mites can cause particular symptoms to flare up and lead to more severe infection due to the damage of the skin or ears.
And if they transmit from a dog to a human, they can be a great risk for public health, especially for small children and older people with a weak immune system.
It is essential to know where to look for signs of infection to prevent and eliminate further infestation.
The time, of course, plays a prominent role; naturally, it is easier to treat the condition when it is in early stages, and that is when home remedies have a greater chance to help you conquer the disease.
It is very important to know when is the time to visit a vet before the situation goes out of control.
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