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Dog Parasite: Cheyletiella Mange (Walking Dandruff)

Overview

Cheyletiella mange (also called dog walking dandruff) is caused by a parasite (Cheyletiella yasguri) that lives on the skin. It can cause itch in allergic dogs and is referred to as dog dandruff since it looks like small skin flakes while moving on the dog. This is why it is called walking dandruff. When dogs are thought to have seborrhea, a veterinarian will first rule out a case of cheyletiella mites. Most flea control products will also keep these mites from becoming a problem.

Cheyletiella Mange on dog

It is often diagnosed among younger dogs that live in a kennel or shelter where they come in direct contact with other infected dogs. Outbreaks are the result of nutritional deficiencies, a weakened immune system or sanitation problems. Cheyletiella is highly contagious.

A mite lives in the top layer of skin for 5 to 6 weeks. Eggs are laid on the hair shafts. Humans can be effected by the same mite that causes problems in dogs, so handle a dog with a suspected case of cheyletiella mange with care.

Cheyletiella yasguri mange mite
The Cheyletiella yasguri mite has prominent mouth parts or pincers

Symptoms of Canine Walking Dandruff

Symptoms of walking dandruff are the appearance of flakes on the coat and sehorrhea sicca scales on the skin, usually along the back. Itch (pruritis) is an allergic response to the mite, although not all dogs are allergic or have this symptom. The other major symptom is skin scaling. Dogs with a darker coat will appear to have more scaling than one with a white coat.

Diagnosis

Skin scrapings are taken from the dog and examined under a microscope. A vet can easily identify the Cheyletiella mite.  Suspected cases of seborrhea, which is characterized by skin flaking, needs to be differentiated from cases caused by Cheyletiella mange.

Treatment

Dogs with long and medium hair will need to have the coat clipped to remove mites and eggs which may be missed by any treatment. Several products are avaialble to treat Cheyletiella mange. This includes:

  • Lime sulfur dips (over the counter) such as Naturasil (in 5 to 7 day intervals for 3 weeks)
  • Selamectin based products (Revolution) - 1 dose every 15 days, 3 doses
  • Oral Invermectin - 200 micrograms/kg every week for three weeks, only in dogs that test negative for heartworm (Do not use invermectin based products in collies or collie crosses, Old English Sheppdogs, Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shephards, Long-haired Whippets, Silken Windhounds or Skye Terriers due to a strong reaction by this breed)
  • Fipronil Spray (Sentry Spray) one spray per lb of body weight, repeat in 3 weeks
  • Amitraz dip (by prescription, used every 2 weeks for 1 to 2 months

Puppies that are too young for other products are usually treated with a lime-sulfur dip. All pets in a household should be treated. 

Be sure to thoroughly clean the dog's environment. Wash all bedding and vacuum.

Humans and Cheyletiella Manage

People can suffer from mild skin irritation leading to the appearance of raised red bumps on the skins. Cheyletiella in people most frequently occurs on the legs and arms.



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