Cheyletiellosis (Walking Dandruff) in Dogs

Cheyletiellamange is a highly contagious skin disease that affects young puppies. It is caused by large reddish mites that infest kennels and pet shops. These mites live on the surface of the skin and die within 10 days when off their host. Cheyletiella mange is becoming less prevalent because of the widespread use of flea-control preparations that also kill cheyletiella mites. Also, the mite tends to live in straw and animal bedding, which is not used as frequently as it once was.

Cheyletiella mites are usually found along the back, but occasionally infest other parts of the body. The signs are a red bumpy rash along with a large amount of flaky skin in the hair coat. The condition is also called walking dandruff because when you look at these skin flakes, you may see them moving. The movement is actually caused by the mites moving around under the scales of skin.

Suspect this condition if you find heavy dandruff over the neck and back of a recently acquired puppy or kitten. Itching may be intense or completely absent.

The diagnosis is made by finding mites or eggs in dandruff scrapings collected with a flea comb or sticky tape. In some cases the mites or eggs cannot be seen, and the diagnosis depends on the animal's response to therapy.

Cheyletiella mites can infect humans, producing an itchy papular rash (small red pumps with areas of central necrosis) found most often on the arms, trunk, and buttocks. This rash, like that of scabies, should disappear when the pet is successfully treated.

Treatment: All animals who have been in contact with the affected dog must be treated to eliminate mites from the kennel and household. Pyrethrin shampoos and 2 percent lime-sulfur dips (LymDyp) are effective in killing cheyletiella mites. Follow the directions on the label. Treat weekly for six to eight weeks. If the mites are resistant, seek veterinary consultation; other treatments are available.

Clean and spray the dog's quarters with a residual insecticide appropriate for killing adult fleas. Repeat every two weeks during the treatment period.

This article is excerpted from “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.