Remember that old Head and Shoulders commercial “That little itch should be telling you something”…
I recently learned firsthand about a parasitic mite that is commonly referred to as “walking dandruff.” The official name is Cheyletiella (pronounced Chi-la-tea-ella). Cheyletiella mites are referred to as walking dandruff because of the flakes and the scales they produce. If you happen to look at them very closely, the flakes will appear to move from one place to another.
Cheyletiella mange is very similar to sarcoptic mange. The only difference between the two is their size. Puppies seem to be more susceptible than older animals, but infestation of adults is sometimes seen. This mite is similar to head lice in kids – very contagious. My puppy picked it up after spending the weekend with the other clean, healthy, spoiled dogs in our family. Two days later, my puppy was chasing his tail, scratching like a mad man, tortured look on face because these Cheyletiella mites were biting him. These mites can hop onto a human and bite, but doesn’t prefer us to animals. Since my brother’s dog was just diagnosed with Cheyletiella, we knew what we were dealing with. The vet gave my puppy a shot of Ivermectin that killed the adult mites on him within 36 hours. We are using Revolution topical ointment every 2 weeks for the next 6 weeks to address the developing mites (they have a 21 day life cycle). I cleaned my house from top to bottom and sprayed everything down with Mycodex insecticide spray. All the bedding was washed in hot, soapy bleach water. Since it is highly contagious, I was warned to keep my puppy away from all other dogs – no puppy class, hiking club, play dates, boarding kennel, etc. – for 4 weeks. This has been a less than fun experience for me and my puppy.
Years ago, I brought home a stray that ended up having fleas. By the time he showed symptoms, I had two other dogs, two ferrets, and a household with fleas. Ever since that adventure, I have religiously used K-9 Advantix for flea and tick prevention on all my dogs. (My puppy also used K-9 Advantix monthly.) Guess what… K-9 Advantix does not prevent or minimize the risk of Cheyletiella mites. Revolution (available at vet offices) helps prevent fleas and “walking dandruff” mites, but not ticks. According to the vet, only Frontline Canine Plus prevents fleas and ticks and helps reduce the risk of “walking dandruff” mites. After battling “walking dandruff” for weeks, we are making the switch to Frontline Canine Plus. Learning firsthand, especially about Cheyletiella, isn’t always the best way to learn.
*The author asked to be kept anonymous lest someone see her dog scratch and think he still has mites.