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Can Bird Mites Live on Dogs? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on July 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

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Can Bird Mites Live on Dogs? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Bird mites are parasites found in wild birds and poultry.1 They are generally brown or grayish in color and turn darker after feeding. These mites are small yet visible and can even bite canines and humans.

If you’re a dog owner, you may wonder if these pests can live on your pet. While rare, there have been a few reports of bird mites infesting dogs1 and other mammals. 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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Common Types of Bird Mites 

Bird mites are roughly 1/32 of an inch long. There are two main types: northern fowl mites (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) and chicken mites (Dermanyssus gallinae).

Ornithonyssus sylviarum normally live on various domestic and wild birds, including poultry, starlings, pigeons, sparrows, and robins. They will live on the birds and complete their entire life cycles in the host, meaning that they reproduce and lay their eggs in the feathers.

Dermanyssus gallinae’s life cycle is different2 in that they do not spend all their life cycles on a host. Instead, they lay eggs in cracks, crevices, litter, or other areas where they hide3.

How Do Dogs Come in Contact With Bird Mites?

Pet birds, such as parrots and canaries, can bring these mites inside the home. Bird mites will look for another host if the affected bird dies or an infested nest is abandoned, which means pet birds are at risk if taken outside. The mites can live for weeks without a blood meal, and they will bite you or your dog in search of food.

So, if you own a pet bird and a dog, bird mites can come in contact with your canine via your bird if they choose it as a host. Bringing in injured or sick birds can also put your pets at risk of bird mite transmission.

Chicken mites can easily enter your home from unprotected eaves, broken roof tiles, attics, chimneys, and window awnings. These mites are active during the spring and summer months, and they love warm weather. If you spot these annoying parasites, you’ll want to enlist the help of pest control to get rid of them.

The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, has demonstrated a level of adaptability and plasticity by feeding on various alternative hosts, including rodents, rabbits, horses, dogs, and even humans. They have been implicated in transmitting several zoonotic illnesses too, so caution should be taken.

Red poultry mite under the microsscope
Image Credit: Martin Pelanek, 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 infested bird dies, these mites set out on a quest for a new host.

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Bird mites usually complete their life cycles by feeding and living on birds, but they can also bite you and your dog. If you notice them in or around your home, you will want to get rid of them as soon as possible 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. However, the biggest concern is the fact that mites can act as vectors of zoonotic diseases.

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

See also:

Featured Image Credit: schubbel, Shutterstock

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