Background: Dogs with year-round atopic dermatitis are often sensitized to Dermatophagoides house dust mites (HDM). Storage mites (SM) are known to grow on cereal-rich foods. Tyrophagus SM can exacerbate clinical signs of allergy in laboratory dogs sensitized to HDM. Consequently, atopic dogs with high-levels of HDM-specific IgE are likely to have a flare of signs after eating a food contaminated with SM; the development of such flares would lead to a false positive diagnosis of food allergy. Herein, we reviewed the published evidence about the growth of SM on commercial dry pet foods.
Results: We searched two databases on January 25, 2019 for articles providing original information on the growth of SM on commercial dog foods. We found ten articles, five reporting results of laboratory experiments and five from field studies. Storage mites, especially Tyrophagus putrescentiae, can multiply on protein- and fat-rich dog foods. The population growth is higher when the initial mite density is high and when kibbles are crushed. When storage conditions lead to the overgrowth of molds on the kibbles, the mite proliferation is higher. Storage mites do not bore holes in food packages but invade bags via defective seals. In the field, SM contamination usually is undetectable in newly-opened commercial dog foods, and, if present, their number is low. When newly-purchased bags are stored in temperate conditions indoors, little overgrowth-if any-of SM occurs. However, when kept in environmental conditions with higher temperature and humidity, Tyrophagus mites will enter and proliferate in sealed food packages.
Conclusions: Commercial dry pet foods should be kept indoors and sealed to decrease the risk of contamination with SM. When performing dietary restriction (elimination) and provocation trials for the diagnosis of food allergies in dogs, it seems preferable to choose newly-purchased bags-of both original and testing diets-to reduce the probability of their contamination with SM, especially Tyrophagus putrescentiae. In case of doubt about the presence of SM in any of these foods, one should perform food challenges with single home-cooked ingredients. Storage mite contamination might lead to an erroneous diagnosis of food allergy in HDM-sensitized dogs.
Keywords: Atopic dermatitis; Dermatophagoides; Dog; Food allergy; Forage mite; House dust mite; Pet food; Storage mite; Tyrophagus.