Apple cider vinegar may be able to kill some mites on your dog and relieve a few symptoms, but it’s not as potent as the medication prescribed by the vet. It can, however, be used along with prescription medication. Mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of borax, and 1/2 cup of warm water in a bowl or bucket, and gently sponge or spray it on your dog.
No one enjoys the realization that their dog is playing host to a swarm of creepy crawlers. Not only is your dog uncomfortable, but it leaves you grossed out and wondering if you are about to start itching too!
One such near-invisible pest that can plague you and your dog is mites. Mites come in many varieties and require persistent, thorough treatment. Some popular home remedies like apple cider vinegar can help relieve symptoms and might kill some mites. However, none of them are an adequate replacement for vet-prescribed medication.
What Are Mites?
Mites are tiny arthropods that attach to other creatures in a parasitic relationship. They burrow into your dog’s skin, causing irritation, inflammation, mange, and hair loss. There are also mites that live in your dog’s ears.
Mites are very common and easily spread from dog to dog. You can prevent mites at home by keeping a clean environment and grooming your dog regularly.
Outside the house, you can avoid contact with dirty, feral, or sick dogs. However, it is impossible to completely shield your dog from coming into contact with mites.
There are some monthly preventative flea, tick, and worm medications that also include mite protection.
These medications break the life cycle of various pests, preventing them from laying eggs and infesting your dog.
They are beneficial if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors or around other dogs. Your vet can help you choose the right monthly medication for your dog’s needs.
Species of Mites
In dogs, mite infestations fall into four different categories.
These mites burrow into the skin and are known as the “itch mite”. They can cause conditions such as scabies, also known as sarcoptic mange. This includes extreme discomfort, itching, scabs, and hair loss. Unfortunately, Sarcoptes scabiei mites can be transmitted from dogs to humans. The condition will likely not be as severe as it would be from human-to-human transmission. Still, it is important to treat the mites immediately.
These are ear mites that take up residents in your pet’s ears. It is uncommon for humans to catch ear mites, but your dog can easily and quickly transmit these mites to other animals, even from brief contact.
These mites will cause pain, inflammation, and itching in the ear. Dogs with sensitive, floppy ears might cause themselves damage trying to constantly itch.
Demodex Canis Mites
These are quite common and can be found on healthy dogs and even humans. In most cases you will have no idea they are even there.
However, if a dog has a weak immune system, the mites can cause demodectic mange. Unlike sarcoptic mange, which results from mites burrowing under the surface of the skin, demodectic mange is caused by mites living in your dog’s hair.
It is the most common type of mange seen in dogs, especially puppies with undeveloped immune systems. Dogs with this type of mange usually lose a lot of hair but do not experience severe itching.
The good news is that demodectic mange is not transmissible to other dogs or to humans! It is important to figure out which type of mange your dog has, as the treatments for sarcoptic and demodectic mange differ.
The least problematic type of mites are cheyletiella yasguri, also known as “walking dandruff” mites. An animal with these mites might not show any symptoms. Other times, they will experience mild itching and scaling. Humans are not natural hosts to these mites, but the mites can attach to humans and cause symptoms.
Certain dogs are more susceptible to a mite infestation than others. Dogs that live in dirty surroundings and feral dogs often host mites.
Your dog’s immune system helps fight off mites, so dogs with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable. This includes very stressed dogs, as well as pregnant or nursing dogs.
Dogs that are already suffering from a secondary infection or heartworms are also particularly susceptible.
Even well cared for dogs can catch mites. Dogs that spend a lot of time at the dog park, groomers, kennel, or training classes come in contact with more unknown dogs.
Mites are so common and widespread that every dog encounters them at one time or another. If you think your dog might have mites, remove him from his social activities for a month to make sure you don’t spread any infestations.
Mite infestations are incredibly uncomfortable for your dog and can cause harm from constant scratching and itching.
Your dog might also lose interest in eating, drinking, and playing. It is important to seek vet attention as soon as possible to relieve your dog’s suffering quickly and effectively.
The largest health risk to your dog is repeated sarcoptic mange. Your dog can develop thick, oily skin covered in sores, become emaciated, and even die. As long as you are working with your vet to treat your dog’s mange, however, this is very unlikely to happen.
After your vet uses a microscope to identify what kind of mites are troubling your dog, he will suggest a treatment regimen to follow for the next few weeks.
Since parasites live in a life cycle, you will often be required to use multiple treatments to address the different life stages of the creature. These treatments will need to be repeated several times to clear away all signs of mites.
In addition to any medication prescribed by your vet, you can bathe your dog with an anti-parasite shampoo or, in the case of cheyletiella mites, sulfurated lime.
You will usually need to repeat the bath several times over several weeks. Consider asking your vet about preventative monthly medications to protect your dog from parasites in the future.
Apple Cider Vinegar to Treat Mites
Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for mites. You can bathe your dog gently with the vinegar to soothe itching and kill mites. Mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of borax, and 1/2 cup of warm water in a bowl or bucket, and gently sponge or spray it on your dog.
To be effective, you need to make sure that the solution covers your dog’s skin, even in hard to reach places. Avoid getting any in his eyes This treatment is not a replacement for medication or anti-parasite treatment. Do not use vinegar at full strength or put vinegar on a dog with open wounds.
You can also feed your dog 1 or 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with his food. Avoid doing this if your dog has a sensitive stomach or a yeast allergy, or if he is prone to yeast infections. In those cases, you can try feeding a small amount of olive oil or honey instead.
Preventing Mites in the Future
If you are treating your dog for mites, it is essential to clean your house thoroughly. If you don’t, the mites will live around your home and promptly reinfect your dog, and even you, once the treatment is complete.
Wash all of your dog’s bedding and toys in hot water, as well as your own bedding, blankets, towels, and anything else that could attract mites.
If you have other pets, keep them away from your dog and clean them and their bedding as well.
You can even apply an anti-parasite shampoo to your uninfected pets, just in case. Make sure you get separate shampoos that are appropriate for dogs and cats, as cats can be overdosed by dog parasite shampoo.
Mites can be an irritating problem, both physically and emotionally. A prompt visit to the vet when your dog exhibits itching or hair loss can catch the problem early and give you an arsenal of tools to fight the infestation. In addition to medication and medicated shampoo, you can try using apple cider vinegar solution to soothe and clean your dog.
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