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Demodicosis in Dogs

demodicosis in dogs


While you may not be familiar with the term demodicosis, you are probably aware of demodectic mange. Demodicosis or mange is an issue in some dogs that requires treatment. Here is more on what causes demodicosis, what it is, the symptoms, and treatment methods to help your pet live a stable and comfortable life.

What is Demodicosis?

What happens when a dog gets demodicosis is that it starts with a bug called the demodex mite. This These mites multiply and inhabit the dog’s skin and hair follicles rapidly, which can lead to infection, skin lesions, and hair loss. The actual condition is an inflammatory disease. There are different types of mites so each symptom depends on the type of mite that the dog has.

The AKC lists the two types of mange:

In dogs, there are two major forms of mange, each caused by different mites:

  • Sarcoptic Mange (also known as scabies). This is the contagious kind.
  • Demodectic Mange (also known as red mange or demodex). This type of mange is not contagious and the one we are focused on in this article.

According to Pet MD:

Three species of mites have been identified to cause mange in dogs. The species of mite most commonly associated with demodicosis is the Demodex canis, which inhabits the skin and hair follicles and may transfer from mother to newborn during nursing. This means that nearly all dogs carry these mites, and very few suffer symptoms.

As long as the body’s immune system is functioning properly, these mites cause no harm to your dog. While these are a normal part of your dog’s skin (and human skin), some dogs have compromised immune systems. After the mites multiply if left unchecked, itchy skin and mange can happen.

One such example of compromised immune systems are with younger dogs. In dogs who are not yet an adult, their immune system is also immature. This is why you will see demodicosis often in dogs under the ages of 12 to 18 months.

The good news is that this is not a contagious disease since all dogs have the mites. Those with the aforementioned healthy immune system will not see any harmful effects.

What Are the Symptoms of Mange?

Demodicosis can affect a large portion of the skin, which is called generalized, or in localized locations.

In localized areas, the symptoms are milder. You may see patchy areas on the legs, face, or torso. If the demodicosis is generalized, you will see it all over the body. The skin may be red, alopecia or hair loss is possible, and you may find lesions or scaly skin throughout.

There are a few specific symptoms to look for:

  • Extreme itching
  • Rash and red skin
  • Alopecia or hair loss
  • Yellow, thick, crusty skin patches
  • Yeast infections
  • Bacteria

In advanced cases the symptoms may be emaciation, lymph node inflammation, and thickening of the skin.

How is it Diagnosed?

Demodicosis is typically easily diagnosed with a veterinarian’s care. He will. scrape the skin in a couple of places and look at it under a microscope. This shows if there are mite eggs or adult mites. IN some cases, the mites may not show up with a skin scraping even though the dog exhibits signs of an infestation. For dogs that have had other skin conditions, a biopsy may be necessary to properly diagnose the problem as demodicosis.

How is Demodicosis in Dogs Treated?

According to VCA Hospitals:

The localized form is usually treated with topical medication. The generalized form requires more aggressive treatment using special shampoos and dips, along with oral medication. Shampooing with special cleansing shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide helps to flush out and open the hair follicles prior to dipping.

There is a variety of treatment forms. One such treatment is is a topical which can be either moxidectin or imidacloprid. There is also something called doramectin which is an injectable form of treatment. All of these treatments are what is known as off-label methods. What this means is that they work for an issue separate as their original intention. For example, a person takes Prazosin for hypertension but it also works to treat PTSD-related nightmares.

In some dogs there are secondary conditions created by demodicosis such as a skin infection. In cases where there is infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat it.

Dips are another form of treatment for mange. These are medicated shampoo baths that help the skin heal as well as soften the skin. Keep in mind that these are often strong formulations and your dog may experience side effects such as vomiting and lethargy. This typically passes in about 24 hours and as the dog grows more immune to the solution, the side effects will decrease. If the dog seems adversely affected, you can always dilute the dip by about 25 percent until your dog is accustomed to it and can take it better without being sick.

Oral treatments are sometimes prescribed depending on the mites, severity, and the dog.

Treatment at Home

The important thing is to follow your vet’s instructions. We realize that treatment at a vet can be costly, which is why we share pet insurance quotes to help you make the best choice for your needs.

One you have seen your vet and he has prescribed medication or home treatment, be sure to keep up with these. Each regimen is created with your dog’s needs in mind and staying the course is imperative.

Most cases of demodicosis in dogs is treatable and your dog can make a full recovery.

Cost to Treat: $50 to $100

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