Pet Care: Demodex (a common mite found in dogs)

Demodex In Dogs
Hello, I’m Dr. Mike. Demodectic mange, also referred to simply as Demodex, is a common
mite found in dogs. Usually this mite is not a problem, however, in puppies or adult dogs
with a compromised immune system, these mites can cause a variety of skin problems. To learn
more about Demodex, were going to meet with Dr. Jeff Glass, a veterinarian in Irvine,
California. Demodex is a parasitic disease caused by a
mite called Demodex, so Demodex canis. It is an inflammatory disease where this mite
is found in the hair follicles and when something suppresses the body’s immune system, these
mites will then start to multiply, and when they multiply, it will cause the hair to fall
out. I think that the most important thing for clients to know is that Demodex is a disease
that is not directly contagious from one dog to another. A lot of times people are worried
when the dog has Demodex, is it going to be transmitted.
The way that they get it is from their mother. It’s usually transmitted in the first few
days of life when the pups start to suckle on the mom, they’ll often get their mite.
That’s why it’s often found around the face and it’s often found in the front feet. It
can be found anywhere in the body. So, what happens is that many dogs will have
this mite living in their hair follicles, and usually what will happen is that it will
just sit there in the hair follicles and not cause any real problems at all. If something
suppresses their immune system, which can be as simple as them having worms or parasites,
which many puppies will have, this can then cause this mite to start to multiply and grow,
and when it does multiply, that’s when it causes the symptoms and causes the problems.
Usually, a healthy dog, even if they have been exposed to that mite and have that mite,
the hair follicle will not show any signs at all. The symptoms of Demodex can be very
variable. Sometimes it can be a very small patch of hair loss, which sometimes people
can just confuse from a scratch and it can be a very small area of hair loss in any part
of the body, and usually those are the much milder forms. It can become much more serious,
where we see dogs that can have hair loss in multiple patches all over its body or even
the entire body. When they get secondary infection from this
mite, because their immune system is down, they can get secondary bacterial infections,
which can then result in scabs all over the body, crusting, and at that stage a lot of
the times, the dogs will be itchy and scratching. When there isn’t infection, typically Demodex
is a disease that is not an itchy type of disease, so usually a dog won’t be scratching
if there isn’t secondary infection. When you see Demodex in a younger dog, it
is much less of a concern and often associated with a localized. In older dogs that get Demodex,
those are the ones that you’re much more concerned because that suggests something that’s really
suppressing their immune system, which can even be as serious as cancer.
Because there are many causes of hair loss in a dog, you want to make sure that your
dog truly does have Demodex. Diagnosing Demodex is a relatively simple procedure where your
veterinarian may want to do a skin scraping, where he’ll scrape a part of the skin, look
at it under a microscope, and then he will see the mite at various stages. If he sees
that, it confirms the diagnosis, so it’s not a difficult disease to diagnose.
As far as treatment is concerned for Demodex, for localized, if you have a very small area,
if it’s a young dog with a small area, sometimes treatment is not necessary. There are topical
ointments that you can put on a dog, which may or may not help to make it resolve quicker.
With generalized Demodex or if you have Demodex in an older dog, then probably in most cases,
treatment would be a good idea, to resolve the problem quicker and prevent it from getting
worse. There are various types of treatment for Demodex and you definitely want to consult
with your veterinarian to find out which option he feels would be best for your dog. There
are different types of dips that you can use. For example, mitaban dip, there are oral treatments
like ivermectin or milbemycin. Topical ointments can be used and then sometimes if there is
secondary infection, antibiotics would be warranted.
Prognosis for this disease in young dogs is usually very good. Most young dogs will, with
various types of treatment, will respond very well and do extremely well. In older dogs
is when you become a little bit more concerned, because in those cases, there is usually an
underline cause, and when there is an underline cause, often you need to find what that cause
is before you can actually treat the Demodex. Demodex is not contagious to people, and is
generally not considered a problem in helping healthy adult dogs. However, in some pets,
it can cause severe skin infection. If your puppy, or older dog has hair loss, you should
bring it to the attention of your veterinarian. He or she will decide if treatment is necessary,
and what options are available for your pet. I hope this information is helpful, and thanks
for watching.

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