The standard treatment protocol for dogs with walking dandruff is weekly bathing to remove the scales, followed by weekly topical treatments with insecticidal rinses for a period of at least 6 to 8 weeks. Two-percent lime-sulfur rinses (LymDyp), and pyrethrin shampoos, are commonly used and reportedly are safe for puppies and dogs, as well as for kittens, cats and rabbits. Other reported treatments for dogs with walking dandruff are Amitraz (Mitaban) dips, subcutaneous injections of ivermectin and/or topical application of Selamectin (Revolution). The attending veterinarian can instruct the owner as to the proper timing and amount of these substances to use. Owners of herding breeds – especially Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Old English Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, White German Shepherd Dogs and mixes that include one or more of those breeds – should not use ivermectin, as those breeds can be highly sensitive to that medication and suffer a number of severe adverse reactions.
Because walking dandruff is so highly contagious among members of the host species, and even to other species, all pets in the household that have had any contact with the affected dog must be treated. Dogs, cats and rabbits are the primary host species for Cheyletiella mites. The animal’s bedding, grooming tools and living environment must be thoroughly cleaned and treated, because these parasites can live for up to 3 weeks or more off of a host animal. Adult female mites are especially prone to survive for a long time in the environment. In many cases, it may be best to dispose of and then replace the dog’s bedding, brushes and combs. The environment can be thoroughly cleaned with standard household disinfectants and then treated with parasiticidal foggers, sprays, powders or other products. Products that are intended to kill fleas usually are also quite effective against Cheyletiella mites. Corticosteroids may be recommended in some cases as an adjunct to parasiticidal therapy. If the dog develops a secondary bacterial skin infection (pyoderma) as a result of the mite infestation, a multi-week course of oral antibiotics may also be appropriate.
Depending upon the nature and severity of the dog’s condition, treatment for walking dandruff may have to be continued for up to 6 weeks or more before the symptoms resolve. The prognosis for affected dogs is good to excellent if the dog and the environment are treated with the appropriate products for the full recommended period of time. Of course, if Cheyletiella mites remain in the carpet, bedding or other contaminated areas, or if the dog again comes into contact with a carrier animal, the infestation will recur. Being infected with Cheyletiella mites once does not provide any immunity or protection against subsequent infestations.