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Canine Nasal Mites

By Ned F. Kuehn, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Section Chief, Internal Medicine, Michigan Veterinary Specialists
Neil W. Dyer, DVM, MS, DACVP, Director and Pathologist, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, North Dakota State University
Joe Hauptman, DVM, MS, DACVS, Professor of Surgery, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Michigan State University
Steven L. Marks, BVSc, MS, MRCVS, DACVIM, Clinical Professor of Emergency and Internal Medicine; Associate Dean and Director of Veterinary Medical Services, North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine
Stuart M. Taylor, PhD, BVMS, MRCVS, DECVP,

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The canine nasal mite, Pneumonyssoides caninum, has been reported worldwide. All breeds, ages, and sexes of dogs appear to be affected, although one report suggested that dogs older than 3 years of age were affected more often and that large breed dogs had a higher incidence than small breed dogs. The mites live in the nasal passages and sinuses. Transmission of the mite is thought to be by both direct and indirect contact between dogs. There is no evidence to suggest that this organism presents a risk to humans.

The most common signs associated with nasal mite infestation include bleeding from the nose, sneezing, “reverse sneezing” (sniffing air rapidly inward), impaired ability to pick up scents, facial itching, nasal discharge, labored breathing, head shaking, and high-pitched, noisy breathing. Other, less specific signs include coughing, restlessness, and other indications of upper respiratory disease.

Examination of the dog’s nose with an endoscope and nasal flushing are useful tools for diagnosing nasal mites. Flexible scopes allow the veterinarian to observe the nasal passages, and the fluid obtained from nasal flushing can be examined for the presence of mites. Other procedures that are sometimes helpful include blood and urine tests, nasal or dental x-rays, or nasal biopsy. It is important to locate and identify the nasal mites, as many other respiratory diseases can cause similar signs.

There is no single universally recommended treatment for canine nasal mites; however, several antiparasitic medications appear to be effective. Treatment may not completely eliminate clinical signs, particularly if infection is suspected but mites have not been found. In these cases, it is probable that the signs are the result of another upper airway disease present at the same time.

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