Bird mites, such as Dermanyssus gallinae and Ornithonyssus sylviarum, are small parasitic insects that affect birds and can find their way into your home, or even under your skin. If bird mites enter your home, they can infect your pet bird, cat or dog as well as your family. Infestations with bird mites can be serious and extremely difficult to overcome. It is not unusual for bird mite treatment to take months, even years, if the infestation spreads to humans or their home.
Mites Affecting Birds
Bird mites feed on blood. Their bites produce intense itching. A bird infected with mites will be agitated. He will spend a lot of time grooming and cleaning himself and may pluck out his feathers. He may develop sores where the bites are located or from excessive grooming. You may be able to see small black or red specks on your bird on in the bottom of his cage, or small white pearls (eggs) under your bird's skin. A close look with a magnifying glass may reveal that these specks are actually mites. If possible, secure an accurate diagnosis from a veterinarian.
Talk with your veterinarian about specific recommended treatments, or consider these recommendations from other pet owners. Keep your bird's cage scrupulously clean. Add garlic and turmeric to your bird's food to make him a less attractive host. Bathe your bird using "sulph oxy dex" shampoo, a dog shampoo which contains benzoyl peroxide, sulphur and salicylic acid. After drying your bird, apply penicillin to any visible sores. Use products specifically indicated for bird mite treatment, such as a miticide spray.
Mites Affecting Other Pets
Before treating a pet cat or dog for bird mites, consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations. If your pet dog has bird mites, she should be bathed daily with a "sulph oxy dex" shampoo and rinsed with a solution of Epsom salts dissolved in water. If your pet cat has bird mites, rub his fur with olive oil to help smother the mites. Clean your pet's bedding daily.
Mites Affecting Humans
If you suspect that you or a member of your family may have bird mites, see a doctor who is knowledgeable about parasitic infections in humans. Bird mites can be confused with other insects, and correct diagnosis and treatment is essential. Your doctor may suggest daily bathing using Epsom salts, sea salt or a shampoo containing coal tar. Anti-itch medication such as Lanacane or antihistamines such as Zyrtec or benadryl may relieve itching. Rinsing the hair with a vinegar and water solution may be helpful. Some people find they need to wear swimming goggles and earplugs while sleeping to keep mites out of their eyes and ears.