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How to Spot Mites and Lice

What to look for and how to detect

There are many types of mites that can affect your pet. And most non-prescription spot on treatments won’t kill them. So it’s important that if you suspect your cat or dog has mites, you take them to the vet. 

Lice, on the other hand, are less common. This is because they’re susceptible to most spot on treatments. 

What are the symptoms of mites?

If your pet is scratching a lot, they may well have mites. You can usually tell what kind of mites your pet has by the symptoms they develop. 

Mild itching may mean your pet has cheyletiella mites, also known as ‘walking dandruff’. These mites live on the surface of the skin and can be seen moving if brushed onto a dark sheet of paper. They can be killed by fipronil, which is found in Bob Martin Clear and Frontline.

If your pet produces very dark earwax, they may have otodectes mites. These mites target the ear, causing most pets to shake their head and scratch their ears. They’re very infectious – if one of your pets has these mites, all your pets will need to be checked. Ear mites can be treated with eardrops or a spot on treatment such as Advocate or Stronghold. 

If your pet has severe itching, they may have sarcoptes or notoedres mites. These mange mites are extremely contagious. As they are extremely itchy, pets can scratch themselves raw, causing lesions on the face, ears, elbows and knees. These mites can be treated with a specific spot on, such as Advocate or Stronghold. 

If your pet has small, red scaly patches on their face and feet, they may have demodex mites. These localised patches are sometimes itchy and usually disappear on their own. The more generalised disease is more serious and can affect the whole body, causing hair loss, lesions and pustules. This can be treated with a spot on treatment such as Advocate. 

What are the symptoms of lice?

Lice can cause severe itching, which can lead to red skin and hair loss. Very occasionally, a particularly bad infestation can cause anaemia in puppies and kittens, but this is rare. You may also see nits – the lice eggs – on your pet’s coat. 

Most flea treatments - such as Flea Clear, Advocate and Advantage - will kill adult lice. Unlike fleas, there’s no need to treat your home if your pet has lice. However, you should wash any bedding on a hot wash to kill the lice quicker. 

If you have any questions or concerns about mites and lice, you can speak to one of our vets