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Demodectic Mange in Pet dogs (Vet Response): Indicators, Treatment method & Results in


Mar 10, 2023
small dog with generalized demodectic mange


small dog with generalized demodectic mange
Dr. Stacie Grannum Photo

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Demodex are mites generally located in low figures in the hair follicles of canines. They reside their whole life on the host and are normally harmless. But when the host’s immune procedure malfunctions, enabling the Demodex mite to populate out of handle, it potential customers to a variety of concerns. Some dogs could have delicate hair decline, while some others may possibly produce extreme skin troubles. Let’s emphasis on demodectic mange and the signals, leads to, and procedure of the condition.


What Is Demodectic Mange?

Mange is a pores and skin disorder prompted by parasitic mites. There are two unique styles of mites in canines that can trigger illness: sarcoptic mange mites and demodectic mange mites. The medical term for skin condition prompted by Demodex mites is demodicosis. Sarcoptic mange mites, also recognised as scabies, burrow just less than the skin’s surface area, triggering extreme itching. Demodectic mange, also known as Demodex or purple mange, life in the hair follicles and sebaceous glands of canine1. These tiny, cigar-formed mites with eight stubby legs are the most widespread kind of mange in canine, and most nutritious dogs commonly have a couple of mites in their hair follicles2.

So, if the Demodex mite is a standard ectoparasite of pet dogs, how does it induce sickness? It all has to do with the strength of the dog’s immune program. Canine with immature or compromised immune programs may have issue keeping Demodex numbers in check, enabling them to populate out of management and creating pores and skin ailment.

ill beagle dog with Demodicosis red mange
Impression Credit: Sigma_S, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of Demodectic Mange?

Nutritious dogs have a low range of Demodex as a normal section of their pores and skin flora, and they are usually harmless when the immune technique is performing ordinarily.

Demodex can bring about scientific signs of ailment in pet dogs with immature or depressed immune programs, like:

  • Circular, patchy hair loss or bald spots
  • Itching (pruritus) (may be absent or moderate)
  • Pink, inflamed pores and skin
  • Scaly, crusty skin
  • Thickened pores and skin
  • Pigment improvements to the pores and skin
  • Pores and skin bumps or papules
  • Skin bacterial infections

Hair loss in canine and puppies with demodectic mange ordinarily begins about their head, confront, and eyes. As the disorder progresses, hair decline may possibly be localized to only a several areas on their pores and skin, or they can have generalized bald patches all in excess of their physique. Dogs may possibly or might not itch dependent on how popular the lesions are or if there is an an infection present. Some pet dogs working experience critical skin irritation that can guide to secondary pores and skin bacterial infections. These canines typically have red and inflamed pores and skin, which is wherever the term “red mange” comes from. In serious conditions, puppies can have indicators of discomfort, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, contaminated wounds, and a fever. Demodex can even induce ear infections if a enough amount of the mites occupy the ear canal.

What Are the Will cause of Demodectic Mange?

Three species of demodectic mange mites can trigger sickness in puppies. The most frequent species is Demodex canis, but Demodex injal and Demodex corneican can also be located, albeit much less typically. Mom canine usually go Demodex mites on to their puppies as a result of close get in touch with within just 72 hours soon after delivery. Demodex only brings about issues when there is immune procedure dysfunction, such as immaturity in younger pet dogs or immunosuppression thanks to a wide range of motives.

There are 3 sorts of demodectic mange in canines: localized sort, juvenile-onset generalized variety, and grownup-onset generalized demodicosis. Localized demodicosis commonly occurs in canines fewer than 1 12 months of age and normally corrects by itself as the canine and their immune technique mature. About 90% of demodicosis cases solve on their own in 8 months. A smaller proportion of pet dogs could progress to the much more generalized kind, on the other hand.

A dog suffering from demodectic mange lies on the concrete floor
Picture Credit: MDV Edwards, Shutterstock

Juvenile-onset demodicosis is usually inherited in youthful dogs and is characteristic of critical generalized lesions with secondary skin infections. When adult-onset demodicosis happens in more mature dogs, it is ordinarily due to an fundamental induce that has weakened the immune procedure, such as hypothyroidism, cancer, hyperadrenocorticism, or diabetic issues mellitus. Scientific indicators in adult canines are related to the juvenile form of the disease. Hereditary or genetic things, illness, lousy diet regime, or particular medicines can all weaken the immune method, triggering the proliferation of the mange mite. Puppies with juvenile-onset generalized demodicosis really should not be applied in breeding programs due to the hereditary or genetic ingredient of this sickness and the hazards of passing on an abnormally working immune process to their puppies.

It is crucial to take note that this mite is species-specific, that means your dog will not transmit it to you. We have our have kind of Demodex, which is also precise to people and is not contagious to pet dogs. Demodectic mange is also not contagious from a single pet dog to an additional, as the mite lives its complete lifestyle cycle on the doggy and depends on a dysfunctional immune technique to escape the body’s defenses in get to proliferate and result in ailment.

Kind of Demodicosis Age of Onset Lesion Locale Scientific Indicators
Localized <1 year of age Six or fewer lesions around the eyes, lips, and forelegs but can be found in other areas Circular areas of hair loss or thinning, redness, and scaling absent or mild itching
Juvenile-onset <1 year of age Lesions found on six or more areas of the body, two or more paws affected, or a large portion of the body is involved

Redness, papules, hair loss, greasy and flaky skin, skin swelling, hyperpigmentation, crusts, draining skin wounds, and infection

Adult-onset ≥4 years of age Lesions found on six or more areas of the body, two or more paws affected, or a large portion of the body is involved

Redness, papules, hair loss, greasy and flaky skin, skin swelling, hyperpigmentation, crusts, draining skin wounds, and infection

How Do I Care for a Dog With Demodectic Mange?

After completing a thorough physical examination of your dog, your veterinarian will take a scrape of your dog’s skin or pluck a few hairs to examine under the microscope. Skin scraping is obtained by scraping the skin with a scalpel blade deep enough to cause mild irritation or bleeding, as this type of mite lives deep in the hair follicles and sebaceous glands. Demodex is confirmed when an increased number of mites, eggs, and larvae are seen in the scraping or hair pluck. Remember, seeing a few Demodex under microscopy is rare, so observing large numbers of the mite is abnormal. A biopsy of your dog’s skin may be taken if chronic skin infections occur or if your dog does not respond to therapy.

Not all dogs with Demodex need treatment, as certain mild, localized cases may resolve on their own within 1–2 months after clinical signs develop. The prognosis is usually good with spontaneous recovery. Dogs with a generalized form of the disease often require treatment because the disease is more widespread and severe, with a guarded prognosis. Localized Demodex may respond well to topical anti-parasitic therapy, but more aggressive treatment involving oral medications, along with topical medications, may be needed in generalized forms of the disease.

Dog eating pill
Image Credit: megaflopp, Shutterstock

Clipping the hair and applying a shampoo containing benzoyl peroxide may be used to open up and clean out the hair follicles, as this allows for better contact with topical solutions. Dipping with amitraz every 2 weeks remains the only approved treatment for dogs with demodicosis in the United States. Many medications used for the treatment of Demodex in dogs occur off-label, meaning the medication is used in a way other than what the FDA approved it for. All treatments are to be followed as exactly as prescribed by your veterinarian.

Topical medications used off-label in dogs:

  • Moxidectin + imidacloprid
  • Fluralaner

Injectable medications used off-label in dogs:

Oral medications used off-label in dogs:

  • Ivermectin*
  • Milbemycin oxime
  • Afoxolaner
  • Fluralaner
  • Sarolaner
  • Lotilaner

*Ivermectin and doramectin are not recommended for use in dogs with the MDR1 allele mutation, which commonly occurs in purebred herding dogs or mixes of these breeds, including Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Old English Sheepdogs, Border Collies, and Australian Shepherds. These breeds are more sensitive to these drugs and may show signs of neurotoxicity. Dogs can be genetically tested for this gene mutation, which is recommended before starting treatment.

Corticosteroids in both local and systemic forms are not recommended as part of the treatment protocol for demodicosis because they can worsen the condition.

Treatment is continued until clinical signs resolve and two negative skin scrapings or hair pluckings are obtained in a row, 4 weeks apart from each other. Some dogs respond well to treatment, while others may need several months to recover. Demodex may recur in dogs with weakened immune systems 3–6 months after the initial therapy is stopped. Multiple skin scrapings may be needed during therapy to assess how well treatment is progressing. Dogs with secondary skin infections due to inflammation may require antibiotics and medicated shampoo to get the infection under control before starting therapy for Demodex.


Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Worry About Catching Demodex From My Dog?

No, canine Demodex is not contagious to humans.

Will My Dog Recover From Demodex on Their Own?

Some dogs with mild localized forms of the disease recover spontaneously on their own within 8 weeks. Dogs with more severe forms often require treatment to get the condition under control. This may take several months.

dog hugging owner
Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

Does Demodex Live in the Environment?

No, Demodex does not live in the environment. It spends its entire life cycle living on its host, the dog. No special cleaning or treatments are needed for the environment, objects, or surfaces that come in contact with your dog.



Demodex is a skin mite that can cause disease when elevated numbers of mites, eggs, and larvae are detected under microscopy. Dogs can have localized or generalized forms of the disease, with a guarded prognosis in more severe cases. Treatment consists of anti-parasitic medications applied topically and/or given orally. Dogs with skin infections may need to be treated with antibiotics. The duration of treatment may take several months in some dogs with the condition.

Featured Image Credit: Todorean-Gabriel, Shutterstock

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