Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS

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How do I know if my puppy has lice or mites?

Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS
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Puppies can pick up mites from other dogs or even foxes. Mites are tiny parasites that are usually spread from one animal to another by direct skin to skin contact.

There are many different types of mites, common ones include Sarcoptic mites and Cheyletiella mites. Sarcoptic mites cause Saracoptic mange and result in intense itchiness in puppies. Cheyletiella mites can be found on cats and rabbits as well as dogs but each has their own species, Cheyletiella yasguri most commonly effect dogs. This mites produces an itchy ‘dandruff’ that is sometimes call ‘walking dandruff’.

Another type of mite your puppy could suffer from are ear mites. These mites feed on ear wax and oils. They can cause your puppy’s ears to be extremely itchy. Other symptoms may include your puppy shaking their head and you may notice the ear is red and inflamed and you could see discharge from the ears. Your vet will often examine a smear of discharge under a microscope to diagnose ear mites.

The good news is that mite infestations can be treated. Your vet can treat a mite infestation. Spot-on-treatments are commonly used to treat mite infestations, but ear drops may also be used to treat ear mites.


Lice are tiny, wingless insects that feed by chewing on your puppy’s skin or sucking its blood. Lice are very small but can usually be seen by the human eye. They look like human head lice, but animals and humans cannot catch them from each other. Lice are slow-moving and do not jump like fleas.

Dog lice pass from dog to dog or via contaminated objects such as bedding or grooming tools.

If your puppy has lice you will probably also notice them scratching intensely, and their coat may look dry and patchy. Look out for tell-tale little white dots in the dog’s hair – these are lice eggs, also knowns a ‘nits’.

The simplest and most effective treatments come in the form of ‘spot-on’ drops – ask your vet for advice, especially if your puppy is very young or if you suspect your puppy has had lice for a while. Some infestations will require more than one treatment.

Happily, lice infestations can be prevented by regular use of a good-quality preventative treatment. Your vet can advise you on the most suitable one for your puppy.

Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS

Brian graduated from Edinburgh Vet School in 1995 and worked in mixed practice before studying for an MBA at Nottingham Business School in 2000/2001. After setting up and developing numerous veterinary practices in Suffolk in the 2000s, Brian was awarded the Petplan-UK Vet of the Year in 2008 after having been runner-up in 2007. Brian is currently the Petplan Pet Insurance media and PR vet and works in his own small animal veterinary practice 3 days a week. During his 20 year career Brian has worked in over 250 veterinary practices as a clinician, consultant and confidence coach.

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