There are several types of mites that feed off of dogs, foxes, coyotes, wolves or dingoes. Some will also parasitise cats, other pets or people. These types include cheyletiella mites or "walking dandruff," sarcoptic mites, deomodex mites, nose mites or ear mites. All of these mites transmit from animal to dog in the same way. They all begin their lives on an already infected animal.
Dog mites are opportunistic. They do not jump like fleas, but will crawl from one warm, furry body to another. If a healthy dog fights with, sleeps with or plays with an infected animal, eventually some mites from the infected animal will crawl onto the healthy animal. Mother dogs with mites can pass them on to her puppies. Dogs can also catch mites from their prey, especially foxes. The Merck Veterinary Manual claims the dog nose mite or Pneumonyssoides caninum is thought to mostly be transmitted by direct contact between dog noses, although some dogs may get the mites through indirect contact. Dogs often sniff each others noses in a greeting ritual.
It is unknown how a mite knows when to drop off of an infected animal and wait for another animal to come by. But mites can and do drop off from infected dogs and wait in bedding, grass, soil or on pet toys. Mites can also crawl onto the hands of people that pet an infected animal and then go to pet an uninfected dog. Because dogs can catch mites indirectly, a dog's bedding and the home needs to be treated to kill off any waiting mites.
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