Demodectic Mange in Dogs
One of the more common skin diseases we see here at the clinic is demodectic mange in dogs. Unlike what my dear old dad told me when I was a kid, it is NOT caused by eating too much starch. And unlike what many clients used to tell me when our practice first opened, it is NOT treatable with burnt motor oil!!!
The Bad News
Demodicosis is primarily a disease of younger dogs, usually less than 2 years old and often puppies. It usually presents with patches of hair loss especially around the face and front feet. As the disease progresses, the hair loss will spread all over the body. Secondary staph bacteria can then cause a severe skin infection with redness and swelling or thickening of the skin that is most noticeable on the feet, which may be twice their size. In the most severe infections, death can even occur from secondary septicemia.
The hair loss is due to a microscopic mite that is replicating in the hair follicles. It damages the follicles and the hair comes out. This mite likely came from mom while the pup was nursing, hence the reason it starts usually around the face. When the young dog’s immune system is stressed and takes a dip, the mites that may have been quietly living on the skin will multiply and the disease begins.
Can I or my dogs get it?
In short, no. This is not the same mite that humans can have. Puppies of the same litter may also display the disease, but it is very uncommon for unrelated dogs in the same household to pass it to each other.
Can we fix it?
Demodectic mange in dogs has been a tough problem to handle for decades. In the past, a special dip has been used that proved effective in most dogs at eliminating the mite. These dips are done every 2 weeks until the skin clears. But now we are having success by treating with one of the newer flea and tick treatments, Bravecto. This new generation medication is becoming a great alternative in killing these mites and returning the skin to normal.
If you think your pup may be affected or you have other questions, please call us at the Rannals Small Animal Hospital here in East Texas at 903-839-7235.