Definition of Walking Dandruff
“Walking dandruff,” also called cheyletiellosis or cheyletiella mange, is the layman’s term for an extremely contagious, non-seasonal skin disease of dogs, rabbits, cats and sometimes people caused by surface-dwelling parasitic mites. In dogs, this disease usually involves infestation with Cheyletiella yasguri mites. Rabbits are most commonly infested with Cheletiella parasitovorax, and cats are the host species for Cheyletiella blakei. However, the mites can jump between species. The disease got its nick-name “walking dandruff” because the pale Cheyletiella parasites are fairly large as far as mites go and can be seen scurrying along a dog’s skin or coat, resembling “walking” dandruff flakes. Healthy dogs get walking dandruff by direct contact with infected animals. The mites burrow into and dine on the dog’s skin, causing mechanical irritation, inflammation, raised red bumps, skin sores from licking, chewing and self-trauma and mild to severe itchiness. People can get these mites from dogs, and vice versa. Fortunately, walking dandruff is becoming less common due to increased use of flea-control products which can also kill Cheyletiella mites.