May 9, 2021
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How to protect your pets from mites

If you are concerned that your dog is constantly itching itself, it’s best to dig deeper because that’s where the problem lies, says Dr Mukulesh Gatne, retired professor, department of parasitology, Bombay Veterinary College. “There is a possibility that your pet has been suffering from mites, leading to a disease called mange. Simply put, mites are microscopic, eight-legged parasites (arthropods) that can be found living on the skin of companion animals like dogs and cats, and sometimes, humans,” he explains.

Below, he shares

Managing mange

Mange is a disease condition commonly caused by Demodex spp. (a species of mite), Sarcoptes scabiei and Otodectes cynotis in India. Mange is a rather generic term used for skin conditions caused by certain species of mites. Demodectic mange is acquired during neonatal stage when pups are in the suckling phase due to prolonged intimate contact with the bitch. There is a possibility that the mites transferred to the pups may remain as commensal, however, during stressful conditions, these mites become rebellious and proliferate. Sarcoptic and Otodectic mange on the other hand are contracted by companion animals of all age groups through contact.

Here’s what you need to know about mites in your pets. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Transmission to humans

The two types of mites that can spread between dogs and humans are known as sarcoptic mites and demodectic mites. Occasionally, these mites can be transmitted between a pet and the owner. Occasionally, humans are prone to contracting scabies mites from close personal contact with pets and zoonotic scabies from domestic or wild animals and pets. Humans can get infected with mange mites in several ways. The mites can transfer themselves onto furniture, clothing, and other items by simple physical contact and eventually shift onto the new host.

Owners who think they may have contracted mites from their pets should seek the attention of a health care professional. Mange causing mites that have managed to burrow into the skin of a human will cause only temporary discomfort. The affected person may experience some inflammation or a skin welt, similar in appearance to that of a mosquito bite. Itching may also occur, though this too is usually only temporary. Fortunately, these mites cause only temporary issues and usually die off, as they are not suited for life on humans. However, it is possible that individuals with a compromised immune system may suffer from more advanced cases associated with the transference of canine mites.

As a preventive measure, dogs who are suspected of having mites of any type should be immediately taken for treatment. If your dog is constantly scratching itself, make an appointment to see your veterinarian. If your pet is diagnosed with mites, appropriate medication and treatment can be prescribed to relieve your itching dog.

Treatment is possible

There are a wide range of therapeutic options involving allopathic, homeopathic, and herbal formulations for topical, parenteral and oral administration available. However, a complete cure is not easily achieved, and relapses are common. Supportive therapy in the form of antibiotic, antihistaminic, etc. in addition to good nutrition is essential for speedy recovery. Oral administration of Isoxazolines (tablets) is easier and user-friendly option particularly during prolonged treatment regime. It can also be used safely as a follow-up medication.

If you live or have contact with an animal with mange, it is advisable that you treat yourself and the animal for mites. The cycle of mites and mange will not stop until you get the condition treated for yourself, family members, pets, and friends with whom you and your pets have regular physical contact. In addition, it is necessary to seek advice from your veterinarian for management of mange and to help prevent its spread.