Fur mite bites

Season for dog fur mites

Fig. 82. Most cases are discovered during the winter.

The mouth parts are hidden inside a pointy protrusion between the two major palpates in the front.

A cannula
In essence, the mouth parts consist of two dagger-shaped stylets that are actually transformed claws. When the stylets pierce the skin, they form a small tube. The tube may be inserted into the skin like a cannula. It does not go deep into the skin, only 10 -20 micrometers into the stratum corneum. This is the reason why fur mites cannot suck blood.

External digestion
Saliva is injected into the skin through the small tube. When the enzyme-containing saliva has dissolved the tissue around the stylets, the mite retracts the stylets, thereby enabling the musculary pump of the throat to pump the dissolved tissue into the abdomen.

Flea bite allergies

About 10% of dogs or cats that have had fleas for a long time develop an allergy to flea saliva. You can see that something is wrong from the skin and the fur. There may be dermatitis or hair-loss. In other cases, there is an increased production of dandruff. The itching is severe and troublesome for the animals. The symptoms are non-specific and it is a good idea to take the pet to a veterinarian who can determine, if it suffers from flea bite allergies (or other allergies, irritation or disease). This can be done by shaving a piece of skin and exposing it to flea saliva and examine the skin’s reaction.

If the causes of the skin symptoms are flea bite allergies, flea control is necessary. Conditions, which resemble flea bite allergies, can be seen in the dog if the owner – in an attempt to eradicate the fleas – has treated the animal’s fur with excessive amounts of pesticides.

Can you recognize a bed bug bite?

There are big differences in people’s sensitivity to bed bug bites. Some, about 10% of the Danish population have no reaction at all. This means that they can donate blood to a large population of bed bugs without noticing it, and maybe only discover the animals later by accident. In most people, the bed bug bites leave red itchy spots, an allergic reaction to the foreign proteins in the bed bug’s saliva.

Exactly because people react so differently to insect bites, it is difficult, if not impossible, to immediately distinguish one kind of itchy rash from the other, and the matter is further complicated by the fact that the bites can be mistaken for skin reactions due to hypersensitivity.

To get an idea you must take into consideration whether you are bitten indoors or outdoors, what time of day it happens and where on the body the clues appear. If you get bitten at night, on exposed parts of the body, maybe in a hotel room, there is a high probability that it is from bed bugs, but it could also be from mosquitoes. If a few fleas have gotten into the bed, they will mainly bite underneath the clothing, preferably where it fits tightly, or they bite where the body has been in contact with the foundation, since they would like to push back when they have to pierce the proboscis into the skin.

Prevention of bites and stings

The chances of being attacked by animals that bite or sting are really quite high. It is not possible to provide complete security against such attacks, but certain pre- cautions can be taken, as for example by not bringing old birds’ nests into the house.

If one is bitten the first thing to do is to identify the species involved, and to trace where it came from. If this is not possible, the position of the bite (see p. 52) and an analysis of possible sources of attack will often provide useful clues.

Protection by nets

If the animals involved come into the house from outside, for example mosquitoes and gnats, nets fixed over the windows and doors will be effective. In the absence of nets, ordinary curtains will provide a certain amount of protection, especially if they have been treated with some kind of deterrent.

Deterrent substances

There are several substances that deter insects and mites and these can either be sprayed on to the skin and clothes or used as an ointment. The best of them remain effective for about 4 hours. They are mainly for use outdoors and do not really provide a solution to the problem indoors.

The insecticide pyrethrin also acts as a deterrent and can, for example, be sprayed on to shoes and socks if one has to enter a flea-infested house. Pyrethrin is also included in some of the fumigants which may prove very effective in keeping mosquitoes away.


Certain insecticides, obtainable from the chemist, can be used directly on the skin or in the hair, and these are effective against mites and lice. Other pests, such as fleas, ticks and bed bugs, only attack from time to time, and so it is not sufficient just to treat oneself, but better to treat their hiding-places and surrounding areas with an insecticidal spray or powder.