Skin disease in dogs is common and demodectic mange is one of the most commonly diagnosed skin diseases found in puppies and young dogs.
What is Demodectic Mange?
Demodectic mange is a skin disease caused by a dog mite known as Demodex. The Demodex dog mite lives in the hair follicle within the dog’s skin.
Demodectic mange can occur in dogs of any age. However, it is most commonly found in puppies ranging from 3 months to one year of age.
When demodectic mange is diagnosed in older more mature dogs, there is likely to be an underlying health problem which weakened the dog’s immune system to leave the dog susceptible to demodectic mange.
What are the Symptoms of Demodectic Mange in Dogs?
There are two forms of demodectic mange:
- localized demodectic mange
- generalized demodectic mange
Localized demodectic mange results in small circular areas of hair loss. There may be only one area affected or there may be several bald spots on the dog’s skin. These areas of hair loss are generally not itchy for the dog affected with demodectic mange unless they have become infected with bacteria.
Generalized demodectic mange is a more wide-spread skin disease, often with lesions covering most of the body. Usually, secondary bacterial infection is present as well, resulting in a dog who is very itchy and uncomfortable. A dog infected with generalized demodectic mange may have a discharge which is bloody or pus-like coming from parts of the infected skin. The skin coat is usually brittle, dry and full of crusts and scabs. There is also often a very strong unpleasant odor coming from the skin of these dogs.
The generalized form of demodectic mange is often referred to as “red mange”.
How is Demodectic Mange in Dogs Diagnosed?
Demodectic mange in dogs is diagnosed by gently scraping the skin with a sharp instrument such as a scalpel blade and examining the collected skin samples under a microscope. Microscopic analysis will reveal the Demodex dog mite which has been extruded from the hair follicle and collected with the scraping.
How is Demodectic Mange in Dogs Treated?
Localized demodectic mange lesions in puppies may regress without treatment within a few months as the puppy matures.
Generalized demodectic mange lesions in adult dogs are best treated by identifying and treating the underlying health issue. This may involve additional diagnostic tests for the infected dog.
Where necessary, specific treatment for demodectic mange may include:
- ivermectin, a chemical which may used to help kill the Demodex dog mite.
- Promeris, a monthly topical flea and tick preventive medication containing amitraz which has recently been approved by the FDA to treat demodectic mange in dogs.
- medicated shampoos.
- soothing ointments, but avoid the use of any ointments containing hydrocortisone.
- dips containing amitraz.
Prognosis for recovery of dogs with localized demodectic mange is good. However, as there may be a genetic predisposition to this disease, it is not recommended to breed individual dogs who have been diagnosed with demodectic mange.
For generalized demodectic mange in dogs, prognosis varies depending on the underlying cause of the diseaase and whether the underlying cause is treatable.