How Walking Dandruff Affects Dogs
Dogs infested with Cheyletiella yasguri mites typically develop a mild to moderate inflammatory skin condition (dermatitis) that is characterized by skin scaling and flaking. The condition may be accompanied by varying degrees of itchiness (pruritis). Some dogs do not seem particularly bothered by the Cheyletiella mites, while others scratch, bite and rub furiously at affected areas.
Symptoms of Walking Dandruff (“Cheyletiellosis”)
Symptoms of infestation with Cheyletiella mites usually become evident within about 2 to 6 weeks after a dog has been exposed to a carrier animal. Cheyletiella mites are referred to as “walking dandruff,” because they often are large enough to be visible to the naked eye. Owners of dogs with walking dandruff may observe one or more of the following signs:
- Scaling and flaking of the skin (non-seasonal; mild to severe; most common along the dog’s back and sides – called “dorsal orientation”; flaky, plaque-like scales that resemble dandruff; scaling is the most characteristic clinical sign of walking dandruff)
- Skin redness (erythema; variable)
- Red bumpy rash, usually along the top of the back
- External parasites crawling on a dog’s skin and hair, usually greatest in number along the dog’s back and sides; 8 legs; pale in color; move slowly)
- Scratching, biting, rubbing at affected areas of skin due to variable degrees of itchiness/pruritis (non-seasonal; usually mild but can be intense, depending upon the particular animal’s sensitivity to the mites; usually most common along the dog’s back and sides)
Dogs at Increased Risk
Dogs that live primarily outdoors, and those that are allowed to roam freely and come into direct contact with other outdoor dogs, have an increased chance of developing walking dandruff. Dogs that have recently been to a boarding kennel, groomer or veterinary clinic, as well as those that have lived in an animal shelter, pet shop or rescue facility, are also predisposed to becoming infected with these mites. Young dogs are slightly predisposed to developing walking dandruff, although it can affect animals of any age. Dogs with weakened or compromised immune system function, and those with debilitating systemic diseases, usually are more severely affected by mite infestation than are healthy animals.