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Demodex

Demodectic mange, also called red mange or Demodicosis, is a common skin disease caused by 3 species of microscopic mites, the most common being Demodex canis.

Normally most dogs live in perfect harmony with these mites, never suffering any consequences. However, some dogs have an immune system defect which makes it difficult for them to keep these mites under control and serious skin disease results. The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but genetics, poor nutrition, stress and sometimes even breed can predispose your pet to Demodicosis.

Demodectic mange can take two forms: Localized and Generalized.

Localized Demodicosis usually occurs in young dogs under 18 months of age. Clinical signs include a sudden area of hair loss, scaling, pimples or blackheads. Usually the lesions are itchy, so the areas will be red and or bleeding from the excess scratching. Secondary bacterial infections are very common.

A dog is considered to have Generalized Demodicosis if the condition involves the feet, an entire body region, or several sites; is spreading; or has persisted for at least 6 months. Dogs with severe Demodicosis can have secondary deep pyodermas, swelling of nearby lymph nodes, fever, depression and even draining lesions.

Fortunately, juvenile-onset Localized Demodicosis usually will resolve spontaneously within 1-2 months regardless of treatment. Experts urge all veterinarians not to treat localized infections and wait to see if they become generalized. If the disease becomes generalized, the animal can then be treated and removed from all breeding programs (spayed or neutered).

Generalized Demodicosis can be very frustrating and treatment can last up to a year or longer to achieve “remission”. Stopping the treatment prematurely is the most frequent reason for treatment failure. Clinical signs will improve but that doesn’t mean the mite and it’s larva have been totally eradicated!

The information listed here is for information only and is no way intended to be used to diagnose or treat your animal. Your animal MUST be seen and diagnosed by a licensed Veterinarian.