Mites are small parasites that live in and around the skin of a host animal, such as a dog, cat or human. Occasionally, these mites can be transmitted between a pet and the owner. Dogs who are suspected to have mites of any type should be taken to a veterinarian immediately for treatment. Owners who think they may have caught mites from their dog should also seek the attention of a health care professional.
Two types of mites that can be spread between dogs and humans are known as sarcoptic mites and demodectic mites. However, veterinarians Holly Nash and Race Foster both note that these mites are usually species-specific. This means that there are specific species for dogs and humans. However, this does not mean that there is no cross contamination that occurs.
A human can become infected with canine mange mites in several different ways. The mites can crawl off an infected dog and onto furniture, clothes and other items, where the mites wait for a new host to come into contact with the item. Sarcoptic mites and demodectic mites can also be transferred by simple physical contact with an infested dog. Fortunately, these mites cause only temporary issues and usually die off, as they are not suited for life on humans.
Canine mange mites that have managed to burrow into the skin of a human will cause only temporary discomfort. The affected person may experience some inflammation or a skin welt, similar in appearance to a mosquito bite. Itching may also occur, though this too is usually only temporary. However, it is possible that individuals with a compromised immune system may suffer from more advanced cases associated with the transference of canine mites.
Canine mites that manage to get into a person's skin are generally a limited issue. Most cases will resolve before the patient ever enters the doctor's office. However, if the issue persists and mites are suspected based on the characteristic lesions on the skin, the doctor may need to take skin scrapings. These skin scrapings will then be examined beneath a microscope to confirm the presence of mites.
Once mites have been identified, the home will need to be thoroughly vacuumed. Clothing and bedding should be washed in hot water and dried on a high heat setting to kill off the mites. The affected person will require a medicated cream, such as permethrin, that is applied to the affected area to kill the mites. Some doctors may recommend that all members of a household receive treatment to ensure that the mites do not spread and cause reinfections.