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Tyrophagus putrescentiae is a common grain storage mite often referred to as the mold mite. It usually goes unnoticed except when it becomes abundant. Storage mites develop in environments where there is moisture or increased humidity.
Storage mites are often found in dry food items, including dog and cat food. Dry foods contain some amount of moisture (<10%) which makes them susceptible to mold growth providing an optimum breeding ground for the storage mites. Infestations have been found in cheese, flour, grain, seeds, bulbs, straw, wallpaper, furniture, dried fruits and cereal. Pets exposed to storage mites by consumption of food containing these mites are at risk of sensitization and allergic reaction.
Dogs and cats may be exposed to mite body parts and excreta through inhalation or percutaneous absorption. Immunotherapy can be effective in reducing clinical signs in patients with mite sensitivities. In addition, environmental control can prove useful in decreasing exposure to storage mites, in turn minimizing the patient’s clinical signs while increasing the likelihood of a beneficial response to immunotherapy. Although, it is virtually impossible to totally eliminate mites from the environment, steps can be taken to control their population.
The following suggestions may prove useful in reducing exposure to storage mite:
- Do not stockpile foods; purchase only what is needed to maintain a 30–day supply.
- Check food bags for tears or holes prior to purchase.
- Purchase high quality pet foods with a low quantity of particulate debris at the bottom of the bag.
- Do not use old or outdated pet food. Prior to feeding check food for dust, mold or odor and discard questionable food.
- Store pet foods in airtight, rodent proof containers in a cool, dry environment. Avoid storage of pet food in garages, sheds or basements.
- Divide the bag of pet food into one week portions and place in freezer safe storage bags. Keep the storage bags of food in a freezer until needed.
- Appropriately dispose of empty pet food bags.
- If appropriate, feed canned food.
- Wash food storage containers frequently in detergent and HOT (130˚F) water. Dry completely before refilling with food.
- Clean bowls daily in detergent and HOT (130˚F) water and frequently vacuum where pets eat.
- Same control measures may be used for pet treats.