How to Tell If a Dog Has Mites

Updated November 21, 2016

Four common types of mites that infest dogs include demodectic and sarcoptic mange, Cheyletiella (walking dandruff) and odectic (ear), according to Vetinfo. An additional mite, Pneumonyssoides caninum, inhabits the nasal passages of dogs. Early signs of mites include itching or exposure to another animal already infected by mites. Most dog mites infect only other canids; however, wearing gloves or washing your hands after touching your dog helps prevent spreading infection or contamination.

Examine your dog's ears for signs of mites, especially if your dog frequently shakes its head or scratches its ears. Look for redness or swelling inside the ear canal, tiny black specks, a build-up of material in the ears and signs of infection. These symptoms indicate ear mites, according to Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). A dark ear discharge commonly occurs with ear mites. Examine the tips and margins of the ears for redness, crust and hair loss. Generally, early sarcoptic mange mites create lesions and hair loss on the edges of the ears, according to Vetinfo.

Examine the head for bald spots or thinning hair, inflamed skin and crusty patches. Sarcoptic mange often spreads outward from the ears to the head. Indications of demodectic mange mites often begin on the head region, particularly scaling and red skin around the eyes and mouth. Look for pink, red or dry patches on the face and neck for indications of demodectic, or red mange, mites.

Inspect your dog's nose for discharge or blood. Canine nasal mites grow to 1mm and live in the nose and sinuses near the nasal cavity, according to CAPC. Nasal mites commonly cause sneezing. Wearing gloves to avoid contamination, wipe nasal discharge and examine it for mites.

Examine your dog's body for hair and skin issues such as hair loss, scabs, scales, crusty patches, thickened skin and bald areas with redness or swelling. Look for signs of white dandruff-like specks and observe the specks with a magnifying glass for movement, indicating Cheyletiella mites. Examine any area your dog persistently scratches for signs of infection or skin damage from severe scratching. Signs of mites on the legs and trunk commonly indicate demodectic mange mites. Examine knees and feet for skin issues that may indicate sarcoptic mange mites. Skin issues on the front of legs often indicate sarcoptic mange.

Take your dog to the veterinarian to determine the presence of mites, as the size of many mites requires a microscope to view them. Skin scrapings, nasal mucus and ear canal swabs inspected under a microscope help your veterinarian determine the type of mites.


Certain types of mites infect other dogs, animals and people. Consult with your veterinarian about treatments for pets, bedding and home.


Many home remedies for mites, such as motor oil, can injure or kill your dog. Consult with your veterinarian before trying any treatment other than prescribed medications.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Magnifying glass
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Daniel Cobalt lives in Georgia and has been writing online for over five years. He has a technical certificate in printing from the Philadelphia Printing School. His areas of expertise include fitness, home schooling, parenting, personal relationships, small business ownership and pet topics including breeding, training and responsible ownership.