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Can Bird Mites Live on Dogs? Facts & FAQ

Bynewsmagzines

May 8, 2023
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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

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Bird mites are parasites found on wild birds and poultry.1 They are small yet visible and can even bite you, however, they cannot complete their life-cycle on dogs. These mites are generally brown or grayish in color and turn darker after feeding. Unfortunately, there may be times when humans or dogs come in contact with bird mites. If you’re a dog owner, you wonder if bird mites can live on dogs. Luckily, bird mites are species-specific and cannot survive on your dog’s blood, or yours, for that matter. In short, they cannot live on your dog.

Let’s explore bird mites more in-depth so you know what to look for and what to do should you come in contact with these parasites.

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How Do Dogs Come in Contact with Bird Mites?

Bird mites are roughly 1/32 inches long and can easily enter your home from unprotected eaves, broken roof tiles, attics, chimneys, and from underneath window awnings. These mites are active during the spring and summer months, and they love warm weather. If you spot these annoying little parasites, you’ll want to enlist the help of pest control to get rid of them. Even though they cannot live on you or your dog, they can still bite and cause irritation.

Pet birds, such as parrots and canaries, can also bring these mites inside the home. Bird mites will look for another host if a bird dies or the infested nest is abandoned, leaving pet birds at risk if taken outside.

So, what does this have to do with your dog? If you own a pet bird and you’re a dog owner, bird mites can come in contact with your canine from your pet bird if a bird mite chooses your bird as a host. Pet birds outside for any length of time are more at risk.

Blue bird mites
Image credit: Charlotte Bleijenberg, Shutterstock

Common Types of Bird Mites 

There are two main types of bird mites: northern fowl mites (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) and chicken mites (Dermanyssus gallinae). Bird mites normally live on various domestic and wild birds, which include poultry, starlings, pigeons, sparrows, and robins. These mites will live on birds and bird nests for the duration of their lives. The mites lay their eggs in bird feathers and nests and hatch in 2 to 3 days.

When bird mites lose their host, they head out looking for a new one. They can live for  weeks without a blood meal, and they will bite you or your dog in search of a meal. However, as we’ve mentioned, they are species-specific and cannot survive on your blood or your dog’s blood.

The poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae has been implicated in transmitting several zoonotic illnesses so caution should be taken.

Northern Fowl Mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum)
Image Credit: Protasov AN, Shutterstock

How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Bird Mites

Keeping your dog on a monthly flea and tick prevention can help protect against bird mites, and calling a pest control company as soon as you notice them inside your home will help rid your home of these pesky parasites.

Remove any dead birds you may find in your yard or anywhere else on your property. Remember that when an infected bird dies, these mites set out on a quest for a new host.

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Conclusion

Bird mites can bite you and your dog, but can usually only complete their life-cycle by feeding on and living on birds. If you notice them in or around your home, you will want to get rid of them ASAP to avoid bites. A bird mite bite can cause irritation, itching, pain, skin that’s warm to the touch, and a discharge from the bite site—all of which are unpleasant.

If you suspect your dog has been bitten by something and has irritation, it’s a good idea to have your pooch checked out by your veterinarian to rule out fleas or some other problem, such as fleas or demodex mites.


Featured Image Credit: schubbel, Shutterstock

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