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Demodex in Dogs
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.
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.
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.