Mites That Affect Humans, Cats & Dogs

by Quentin Coleman, Demand Media
    So, who's to blame for your mite problem?

    So, who's to blame for your mite problem?

    Even if the mites would rather hang out on your dog or cat, they will gladly bite you if they have a chance. Some mites require a cat or dog host in order to reproduce, but others are a persistent and itchy problem for both you and your pets.

    Walking Dandruff

    Dandruff isn't walking anywhere, but various species of the Cheyletiella mite can make it seem that way. There are individual species of this mite that specifically target dogs and cats. However, it's possible for either mite to infect either host and humans are also viable targets, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual. These mites spend the entirety of their three-week existence crawling around on the surface of their host's skin.

    Scabies Mites

    Scabies mites are similar to walking dandruff in that there are different variations for particularly hosts. There is a type of scabies mite that infests humans and can spread to other people, but it's not the same variation as the ones infesting a dog or cat. Animals can carry the human version for a few days though. Scabies mites from pets can bite you and leave a trail of red bumps, but they can't reproduce without their ideal host.

    Dust Mites

    Dust mites hang out underneath the couch, behind the refrigerator and in other sheltered areas of the house. They aren't truly parasitic since their primary source of food is dead skin cells. However, they can irritate you or your pet's skin if they hitch a ride. Some people have an allergy to these mites and experience cold-like symptoms, including sneezing and a runny nose, without suffering many bites. There is a remote possibility of an asthma attack in highly allergic people, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

    Prevention

    Keeping your pets indoors is a good way to keep mites out. Brush their fur twice a week so you can keep an eye out for signs of skin irritation, which may indicate the presence of mites. If you are bitten after contact with your dog or cat, isolate him from animals and people until you can take him to the vet. Wear gloves when handling an animal with mites, as even animal-specific species can leave trails of bite marks down your arms. Don't try to deal with mites on your own. It usually takes prescription medication from a vet or doctor to eradicate an infestation.

    About the Author

    Quentin Coleman has written for several news publications as well as the University of Delaware's public relations department. He also spent more than 10 years working with a local animal shelter to help nurse kittens, treat sick cats and domesticate feral animals. Coleman graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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