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5 Skin Problems You Can Get From Your Pets

Cheyletiellosis and Scabies

Mites are tiny, spiderlike creatures that hail from the tick family. They can also spread disease as they feed from the blood of their hosts.

The mites that cause cheyletiellosis, or cheyletiella mange, tend to hang out in kennels and pet shops, where pets can pick them up and bring them home with their owners. The result is a red, bumpy rash and white flakes that appear to be moving (which is why cheyletiellosis is sometimes known as "walking dandruff"). Cheyletiella mites can also infect humans, producing a rash on the arms, trunk, and buttocks.

Washing your pet weekly for six to eight weeks with a pyrethrin shampoo (the type of shampoo that's also used to kill lice) should take care of the mites. Make sure that you also spray all pet bedding. Once you've treated your pet, your rash should clear up.

The Sarcoptes scabiei mite causes sarcoptic mange (better known as scabies in humans). When these microscopic menaces get under the skin of your pet, they can lead to hair loss and some serious itching. Small red pustules erupt on the animal's skin. Because the dog or cat is itching so much, these pustules can get infected.

If your pet's mites jump to you or another human, they will cause a very itchy, pimply rash that can last for weeks. To treat the rash, your doctor can prescribe an ointment or cream called a scabicide to kill the mites. Also wash all of your towels, bedding and clothes in hot water or seal them in a plastic bag for at least 72 hours.

You can treat sarcoptic mange in your pet with an organophosphate dip, but this procedure isn't very pleasant. To prevent your dog or cat from getting sarcoptic mange in the first place, use a monthly medication that protects against the disease. Also treat your pet's bedding, because these hardy mites can survive for several days without their pet host.