A tiny mite (demodex canis) lives inside a few hair follicles in most healthy dogs without causing any harm or irritation, and are usually acquired as young puppies while they are suckling from their mother. A dog/puppy with a healthy immune system is usually unaffected by these mites, however these mites can multiply rapidly in a dog with an immature or weak immune system. When these mites multiply and cause problems it leads to hair loss and is called Demodex Mange.
The hair loss usually begins on the face, particularly around the eyes. When there are only a few patches of hair loss, it is termed localised demodectic mange, however if the disease spreads to many areas of the skin it becomes generalised demodectic mange. As the mites also cause the skin to become itchy this can lead to bacterial infections if the dog cuts or scratches itself in an attempt to relieve the itching. Dogs with skin infections have very red, inflamed skin (resembling red raised bumps) and depending on the severity of the condition may cause the skin to feel hot to the touch.
Although demodex mange predominantly affects puppies, adult dogs may also be affected. Adult dogs that have the disease usually have some problem with their immune system from stress, medication, an underlying medical condition, or old age.
Treatment involves weekly injections by a vet or a daily oral medication, regular bathing and nutritional support to assist build the immune system. Dogs also suffering from a secondary skin infection may require intensive antibiotic therapy. Because the immune system does not mature until 12-18 months of age, a dog with demodectic mange may have relapses until that age. That is why it is important to seek medical treatment quickly and to continue to support the immune system, even after the condition has been cleared.
Contact us for advice on how to help build your pets immune system nutritionally to avoid/treat demodex mange.