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Demodex in Dogs

Updated on October 7, 2012

Demodex Mange in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Demodex in Dogs

Demodectic mange, puppy mange or follicular mange is a parasitic skin disease in canines that’s caused by tiny, eight-legged Demodex canis mites. Most dogs have these microscopic parasites residing in their hair follicles & sebaceous glands.


Direct transmission of demodex mites occurs from the mother to pups in the initial week of life.

Risk Factors

Genetics, immunologic disorders, stress, other underlying diseases, giving birth, inadequate nutrition, heat cycles and other parasitic ailments may all be causal factors of puppy mange.

Healthy dogs have a strong immune systems that usually suppresses excessive proliferation of Demodex mites. Purebred dogs of certain bloodlines/breeds are at greater risk of developing demodectic mange compare to other dogs.

Types and Symptoms

Demodicosis is of two types - localized and generalized.

In localized demodicosis, small areas of reddish, non-itchy, flaky patches of alopecia are found on the pup’s face or forelimbs and most cases are resolved without treatment. Demodectic mange usually involves hair loss, especially on the muzzle, around the eyes and face. Most lesions in localized demodicosis will self heal with age.

Generalized demodicosis affects large areas of the body and secondary itchy skin infections may manifest as inflamed bumps, pimples or crusted skin lesions that ooze fluid and are greasy to the touch. In generalized mange, there are large bald spots over the dog’s entire coat, including its head, neck, legs, feet and abdomen.

The generalized form of this parasitic skin infestation may commence in pups (3 to 18 months) and the pets may carry this disease into adulthood or an adult-onset of demodicosis may occur after 18 months, which is far more difficult to treat.

Some dogs can become very sick and suffer from fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Generalized demodectic mange affected dogs need immediate aggressive treatment.

Diagnostic Tests

In the majority of cases, biopsies or skin scrapings confirm the diagnosis of Demodectic mange. Additional skin samples may be taken for determining skin infection. In adult dogs with Demodectic mange, or pets unresponsive to suitable therapy, it’s necessary to do further diagnostic tests to look for an underlying immune-suppressive disorder. Demodicosis may also occur due to the use of steroids/chemotherapy agents or some other immune-suppressing medications.


A vet may prescribe an effective and safe treatment program involving oral medications or topical applications to destroy mites. Antibiotics and curative bathing are usually prescribed for a number of weeks to cure secondary skin infections.

In localized demodex, bathing the pet with a good antibacterial shampoo loosens up scales, eliminates greasy discharges, and reduces secondary bacterial infections that are usually present. Goodwinol crème or Mitaban mixed with olive oil can be applied on the alopecia areas once a day. Initially, there may be increased hair fall, but the problem resolves within 1 to 3 weeks.

Treatment for generalized demodectic mange may last 2-3 months. A vet may prescribe Amitraz dips to be applied once in two weeks. Rubber gloves should be worn when applying it on the dog. The dog’s hair is clipped very short to enable good contact of the topical medication with the skin. The pets are given around 6-14 dips at two week intervals. A skin scraping is done after the initial 3-4 dips to check whether the Demodex mites have all been gotten rid of.

Earlier, Mitaban was used in generalized demodex treatment. Other oral medications are Ivermectin & Milbemycin (Interceptor).

Treatment may continue for several months to a year. In the case of generalized demodectic mange, treatment carries on for another 30 days following a 2nd negative skin scraping test. The dog is not declared cured until there are no signs of the disease for one year.

Follow-up & Prevention

A vet diagnoses and develops a treatment plan. Re-evaluations at regular intervals of 4-6 week are required to monitor the treatment response and conduct microscopic mite counts.

Dogs with Demodectic mange must not be bred due to suspected hereditary nature of the disease.

Keeping your dog in a hygienic and clean condition prevents it from acquiring demodectic mange. Bathing it regularly and brushing its hair will keep your dog healthy and clean.

Keep your pet away from other sick or mange-affected dogs.

Ensure that your dog is fed a good nourishing diet and is exercised regularly to boost its immune system. Ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.

It’s advisable to have your dog neutered or spayed to limit physical contact with other dogs. There are chemical treatments available for demodex mange. Because chemicals and antibiotics can suppress the immune system, it is better to treat this skin condition with natural products. Dog n Mites Ear Drops made by Ovante Skin Care will be your alternative to chemicals and antibiotics.


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      Hannnn 5 years ago

      ^^^ that made me tear up.

    • kkmadawela profile image

      Katherine 5 years ago from beverely Hills

      I heard that demodex came from genetics and so I became very interested in why my Husky had this. I thought maybe the long fur and the hot conditions in the south, but It wasn't any of those. I went to the veternarian and found out that my dogs illness was from genetics, I already knew that because I read this article. I was so frightened by the rashes and they made her bald and desperate. My poor Liz. I had no idea at that point about what I should do. use the natural alternative or just go ahead and use the chemicals that could possibly kill her. I couldn't risk anything so I took her to my great friend who told me about the anti-Demodex products for animals with severe or minor problems. All I wanted was Liz to be okay and U didn't want her to die, week by week I saw the redness dissapear on her skin and the rashes subsiding. Soon enough her fur began to grow back where the rashes made bald spots (most of her body). Her fur Is softer than ever now I had no idea that this demodex was so severe, it could practically kill you... Thankyou

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      Scarthekaram 5 years ago

      My Dog had this but he was too old and also had diabetes so we put him down but i probably would have bought some demodexin for dogs but we had no idea what it was! he was covered with it... so we put him down to end his suffering. R.I.P pooch

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      Loganscalop 5 years ago

      My puppy had the same thing but on his paws, we tried all kinds if products and they tortured our pup! Until we stumbled upon the Anti-Demodex products from Ovante, he didn't even make a sound !

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      Marinaiva 5 years ago

      The exact same thing happened with my friends dog! It looked gross! I remember they wet from one vet to the other because all of them have been prescribing the same treatments for their por pup. I came to their house one day and felt so bad because he was itching and whining on the floor because it itched so bad:( He looked nothing like himself and had baldspots all over his fur. I found the site on the Internet and found out that their dog had Demodex, I couldn't believe that they let this terrible infection go onfor so long and just by doing thati founf that there was a cure for this thing and told them about it. We immediately got it and in literally, Im not even joking, in days that redness began to dissapear and in another couple of days when i have beed visiting them, teir pup was almost back to normal and all of his fur grew back. This disease was incurable until I found tis site and all of those products they have in stock that worked amazing! My bestfriend is really grateful and especially the pup! we all want to thankyou!

    • NetBlots profile image

      NetBlots 5 years ago from Melbourne

      Ouch! That does not look nice :/

      My babies seem to be ok at least =D