If you’ve seen bird mites around your home, you may wonder if they can live on dogs. In most cases bird mites are not one of the parasites that live on dogs, but that is not to say they can’t. However, there is recent research documented in veterinary journals showcasing the fact that birds can switch hosts and live on a dog.
Not only that but they can also accidentally get on a dog, if the bird host has left the nest, or if the bird mites are exploding in population.
Read more about a veterinary case where bird mites were found on a dog: Dermanyssus gallinae in non-avian hosts by Barbara Moronia,*, Alessandra Barlaamb,c, Ambra Lisa Misiad, Andrea Peanoa, Luca Rossia, Annunziata Giangaspero.
Most people need to learn more about bird mites and their habits. These creatures can be a real pest, but thankfully there are ways to get rid of them. For more information on getting rid of bird mites, read our step-by-step guide.
This article will explore the relationship between bird mites and dogs. You’ll learn how these two creatures interact with each other and what you can do if you find bird mites on your pet. Furthermore, we will also cover what types of mites are species specific to dogs.
Can Dogs Get Mites From Birds?
Not usually since in most cases the mites that parasitize birds are species-specific. The red chicken mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) or the northern fowl mites (Ornithonyssus sylviarum + Ornithonyssus bursa) are the most common that infest birds. However, it’s necessary to realize that these mites can get on a dog and bite.
The thing is that the mites are adapted to thrive on birds’ blood and feathers. Even though these are common mites that bite, it will be more difficult for them to complete their life cycle on human or mammal blood.
Nevertheless more and more research is turning up and pointing to the fact that these mites can survive on mammalian blood.
If you have birds nesting around your windows, AC units, or rooftop, then there is a chance that the bird mites will get into your home. They’ll usually enter the house when the fledglings leave the nest. The mites are left behind with no more blood meals, so they wander in search of a blood meal. Furthermore, if the mite population is exploding in numbers, some of the mites will wander off looking for more blood.
Bird Mites and Dogs
If your pet is on flea or tick prevention, then that should also protect them against the bites of bird mites. While bird mites can get on your dog and bite them, they will not usually thrive on your dog like the walking dandruff mite or Demodex mite. Each case is unique, so if you live in an area where you are continuously exposed to bird mites then your pets may be affected too.
While bird mites on dogs are concerning, it’s best to focus on the source of the problem – getting rid of the bird mites in your home. We wrote a guide on how to go about that. It’s mainly about removing the source, while vacuuming on a regular basis. These two coupled together will be your best defense!
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Bird Mites on Cats
Like dogs, you don’t have to worry about bird mites infesting your cat, unless you live in area with high bird mite populations. However, if your cat frequently goes outdoors and hunts birds, it may encounter bird mites. A cat accidentally bringing some of the mites from an infested bird into your home is not uncommon.
The best way to protect your cat against bird mites is to keep them away from wild birds. If your cat may have been in contact with a bird infested by mites, inspect them for bites. You may find this case study documenting bird mites on cats, interesting: A case report of Dermanyssus gallinae infestation in three cats.
Furthermore, you’ll also need to implement a strict vacuuming schedule. By regularly vacuuming the home you will remove the bird mites before they have a chance to start biting you or your pets.
Bird Mites on Pet Gerbils
There was a case of a family getting unusual itchy rashes, it turns out that bird mites were infesting their gerbil’s cage. You can read the full article here. Once the family removed the gerbil cages from the home the skin reactions subsided. It took almost a year to solve what was biting them.
What Kind of Mites Live on Dogs and Cats?
Unlike sarcoptic mange mites, Demodex mange mites don’t dig tunnels in the skin but instead take up residence within hair follicles due to their elongated body shape. Fortunately, shampoos and lotions infused with medication as well as pills can help reduce the population of these pests.
Sarcoptes scabiei (scabies) mite
Sarcoptic mange is a zoonosis that can spread from animals to humans. It’s a mite that lays eggs in tunnels within the epidermis and causes awful itchy rashes.
However, the Canis variety of the sarcoptic mite won’t be passed from human to human. It’s important to remember that you may keep getting infected if you stay near any animal carrying this mite for extended periods.
Cheyletiella yasguri (walking dandruff) mite
The walking dandruff mite, readily visible against a dark backdrop and armed with formidable claws to devour skin cells, can infect dogs, cats, and rabbits. Even more concerning is this creature’s zoonotic nature – it has the capacity to attack human beings too!
Notoedres cati (mange mites)
It’s a rare but highly contagious burrowing parasite that affects cats. The cat will exhibit typical skin scaling, and crustaceans like other mange mites.
Otodectes cynotis (ear mange) mite
These mites will feed on lymph, blood, and debris within the ear canal. Eventually, they will start causing intense itching and crusty lesions on the ears.
How Long Do Bird Mites Live Without a Host?
Well, that depends on what species of mites you are talking about. According to parasitologist Dr. Krecek (my former parasitology professor), a red chicken mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) can live for up to 8 months without a blood meal.
These are one of the top species that get into NYC apartments. Although their name has the word “chicken” in it, you can often find them around the nests of pigeons, starlings, hawks, and many other NYC birds.
On the other hand, the northern fowl mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) can live for 10-14 days without a host. These mites are tiny, about the size of a pinhead, and they like to feed on chickens, pigeons, sparrows, and other birds.
Final Thoughts on Can Bird Mites Live on Dogs?
In summary, bird mites are common around birds’ nests in and around cities, and they can bite pets such as cats and dogs. In general, bird mites do not live on mammals for long periods, however new research is popping up showing that they are able to thrive on cats and dogs. Be aware that their bites can be highly irritating. If you have a lot of bird nests around your home, it’s crucial to monitor and vacuum your home routinely.