Cheyletiella mites are responsible for an extremely itchy and contagious dermatitis, or rash, that is often called "walking dandruff," because, upon close inspection of the affected skin, the flakes appear to move. Dogs, cats and rabbits are the most common hosts for these non-burrowing mites; but humans can become infected as well.
The mites live for 21 to 35 days on one animal host and do not reproduce on human skin as robustly. If your home is not treated properly after an outbreak, your pet could become re-infected.
Killing Cheyletiella Mites
Cheyletiella mites reproduce quickly and can live in your house for long periods of time. To treat your pet's infestation directly, start with topical methods and follow one of the following three techniques.
Bathe your pet in pyrethrin shampoo once a week for three weeks. Make sure to follow the directions carefully. Pyrethrin comes from a flowering plant but can be toxic if overused. Make sure the pyrethrin product you want to use on your cat is specifically recommended for use on cats.
Give your pet a lime sulfur dip that is 98.7 percent lime sulfur concentrate every five to seven days for three weeks. If you do this at home instead of schedule an appointment for one with a veterinarian, be careful. It will stain your clothes.
Apply fipronil spray. For dogs and cats, spray one to two pumps per pound of your pet from a 250 ml bottle of fipronil, or three to six pumps per pound from a 100 ml bottle. Animals with long hair need more so that the spray will cover their coat. Fipronil is only available with a prescription.
Treat your pet's walking dandruff internally, with either Milbemycin Oxime or injections of Ivermectin. Both are available with a prescription. Talk to your veterinarian about possible side effects from these drugs. Certain dog breeds should not take Ivermectin.
Talk to your doctor about your pet's diet. A healthy pet can usually fend off Cheyletiella mites by itself.
Treat all your pets in the house as if they have mites, even if they show no signs of infestation. Inform the owners of any pets your pet may play with; they could trade infections back and forth.
Clean your house thoroughly. Vacuum, dust and wash your sheets in hot water weekly. You may want to buy mite-resistant covers for your pillows and mattress if cleaning and washing is not killing the mites.
Ventilate your house. Cheyletiella mites thrive in dark, humid places.
Consult with your doctor or dermatologist if you have become infected from your pet.