We have belaboured the discussion on Scabies and Demodectic Mange over the past few weeks. Yet there are at least two other types of mange that regularly affect dogs and cats, but to a much lesser degree. I think that these other two mite-caused lesions deserve some mention. They are “Walking Dandruff” and “Chiggers”.

Q. What is “Walking Dandruff”?
A. It is a skin problem in cats and dogs (and rabbits) caused by a specific mite. Scientifically, the ailment is called “Cheyletiella Mange” or “Cheyletiellosis”.

Q. Is this disease very contagious?
A. Yes. And it is not specific to one host. This means that the mite can easily be transferred among dogs, cats and rabbits.

Q. Can humans get this mite-caused disease from dogs/cats/rabbits?
A. Yes. Even if the pet is not exhibiting any symptoms.

Q. What are the symptoms?
A. 1) Dead scales (as in human dandruff) can be seen on the face, neck and back of the animal. In cats, there is a massive amount of dry scaly material looking like human dandruff.
2) Mild to intense scratching. Cats tend to groom their skins excessively and continuously (more than usual).
3) Tiny boils (pustules/papules) sometimes emerge on the neck and back of the animal. The infected area becomes red and inflamed.
4) Actually, on the emerging bald (hairless) patches of the skin and on the dead scales (dandruff), one can often, actually sometimes, see the moving mite, especially with a magnifying glass; after all, it is a relatively big red mite. And that is why this particular skin ailment is called “Walking Dandruff”. Your vet, via easily administered methodologies, would quickly make the diagnosis.
N.B: Vets often notice skin lesions on the pet’s owner. This observation suggests that the human has been contaminated by the cheyletiella mange mite. The caregiver exhibits lesions from constantly scratching his/her skin.

Q. Are young animals (puppies and kittens) more susceptible to this ailment?
A. Yes, for sure. But adult dogs and cats do actually exhibit this condition.

N.B: Over the many decades of practice, I have come to the conclusion that, in this mite-caused “Walking Dandruff” infection, this particular mite precipitates an allergic reaction. This hypersensitivity, I think, occurs also with animals having Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies) and Demodectic Mange. For these reasons, your vet might introduce anti-allergy medication as part of the curative intervention.

Q. How does one treat “Walking Dandruff”?
A. Since this skin disease occurs in puppies/kittens (young dogs and cats), one has to be extremely careful in administering the same medication used for adult dogs/cats. Whereas your vet might use chemicals like “Triatox”, “Revolution”, “Ivermectin”, “Milbemycin”, Organophosphates, etc. on adult dogs weighing over 50 pounds, I would be reluctant to introduce or advise the usage of such chemical therapy on small, young puppies and kittens. Also, one would have to get the dosage absolutely correct. This is difficult enough in an animal clinic, where all the precautions and antidotes are available. At home, it would be taking a big risk. In the “old” days, we used Lime Sulphur with good results. Any pharmacist can concoct this solution, but let your vet tell you how to use this medication.
Please note the following:
1. Take into consideration that cats groom/lick themselves constantly, and can therefore ingest toxic substances which have been placed on the sick animal’s skin.
2. Further, the pet owner would be well advised to sanitise the environment (indoors and outdoors), preferably with professional help.
3. In addition, if there is any sand in which your pets love to revel, such practice must not be allowed. Get rid of the sand heap, or fence it away from your pets.
4. Please realise that the objective of your/ the vet’s intervention is to totally and thoroughly eradicate all the mites from the animal and surrounding area.
5. Finally, animal shelters, reputable breeding institutions, and households with many animals in a relatively confined area are often infested with mites. Consequently, it is advisable to have the animals (being adopted or purchased) fully treated against skin parasites before the caregivers take them home. In fact, even if only one animal is showing the symptoms of any mange caused by mites, all the felines/canines in the household should be treated.