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Storage Mites in Kibble Pet Food

Caution: If you are eating cereal while reading this, we suggest you put down the cereal bowl or bookmark this for later reading.

Storage mites are commonly found in cereal-based foods such as human cereal and dry dog or cat foods. (Think kibble.) Did you know that storage mites are actually a common allergen for companion pets? It’s true.  

Conditions have to be optimum for the mites to thrive such as high humidity and mold. In general, how we – as humans – store kibble and cereals will influence the population size of the storage mites. Of course, some studies have demonstrated the rare occurrence of the presence of storage mites in dry pet foods upon opening. Albeit, it really comes to how we store the food. 

How can you find out if your companion pet has an allergy to storage mites? An antibody test that measures the IgE levels is available. It requires a blood draw or skin prick. 

Unfortunately, the primary and most common species of storage mite, Tyrophagus putrescentiae (yes, there are several), cross reacts significantly upon testing with the common house dust mite, Dermatophagoides farina

In layperson terms: if you have the test done and your pet’s results indicate an allergy to house dust mites, your pet could also have allergic reactions to storage mites. Of course, any scenario works between the two different mites, so you should take the validity of the results with a grain of salt. Because the results can show both, one, or the other. 

As many doctors note with deadpan voices, “Everyone’s allergic to dust.” Indeed, it is a spectrum.

Now, let’s say you had the test done to eliminate other household allergens like wool, cotton or pollen. And the result for either house dust mites, storage mites or both was high.

The suggestions to reduce the amount of storage mites in dry pet food are:

#1. Check the bag for tears or holes before purchasing. 

#2. Buy only what your companion pet can finish in 30 days or less. 

#3. Once you get the bag of food home, you should divide the bag into one-week portions, pour into airtight and freezer-safe containers, store in your freezer, and thaw a portion when it is time to eat. 

#4. Wash food storage containers frequently with detergent and hot water. Dry completely before refilling with food.

You can certainly try these methods. You are reducing an allergen (always a good thing), but you are possibly not eliminating it (always a better thing if it can be done).

The preferred method would be to switch to canned, home-cooked or commercially prepared raw pet food. As well, switch to fruit or vegetable treats.

…Which brings us to another point. We have heard from companion pet parents that they switched their companion pets to raw food and noticed a significant change to their pet’s health. Indeed, pets thrive on raw diets.  

Anecdotally, companion pet parents often believe the less processed food preparation was the cause. This could be the case as less processed food poses less of an allergenic risk to proteins. On the flip side, it could be the lack of storage mites. 

Of course, we don’t know for sure. The blood test results that measure reactions to house dust mites and storage mites are ostensibly inconclusive. Again, we have reduced but not eliminated possible reactions to proteins. This can lead to chronic and unnoticeable chronic health conditions in companion pets. They might be healthier eating raw – but are not at optimum health. 

Hemopet’s food sensitivity and intolerance test, Nutriscan, measures IgA and IgM antibodies in a dog or a cat’s saliva. By detecting high IgA and IgM antibody levels, NutriScan is able to identify changes in the dog or cat’s gene expression when faced with the reactive food protein, enabling the test to clearly identify the specific protein(s) causing the problem – from a purified, less processed, unadulterated form to cooked form.

References

Canfield, Michael S, and William J Wrenn. “Tyrophagus putrescentiae mites grown in dog food cultures and the effect mould growth has on mite survival and reproduction.” Veterinary dermatology vol. 21,1 (2010): 58-63. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3164.2009.00778.x, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-3164.2009.00778.x

Dodds, W. Jean. “Commercial Raw Diets and Food Sensitivities.” Dr. Jean Dodds’ Pet Health Resource Blog, Tumblr, 27 July 2015, https://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/125178909421/raw-diet-sensitivities.   

Gill, Christina et al. “House dust and storage mite contamination of dry dog food stored in open bags and sealed boxes in 10 domestic households.” Veterinary dermatology vol. 22,2 (2011): 162-72. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3164.2010.00931.x, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-3164.2010.00931.x

Jeromin, Alice. FAQs about House Dust Mite and Storage Mite Allergies. DVM 360, 28 Feb. 2013, https://www.dvm360.com/view/faqs-about-house-dust-mite-and-storage-mite-allergies.   

Morelli, Giada et al. “A Survey among Dog and Cat Owners on Pet Food Storage and Preservation in the Households.” Animals : an open access journal from MDPI vol. 11,2 273. 21 Jan. 2021, doi:10.3390/ani11020273, https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/2/273

Olivry, Thierry, and Ralf S Mueller. “Critically Appraised Topic on Adverse Food Reactions of Companion Animals (8): Storage Mites in Commercial Pet foods.” BMC veterinary research vol. 15,1 385. 31 Oct. 2019, doi:10.1186/s12917-019-2102-7, https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-019-2102-7

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