Demodectic mange in dogs, sometimes known as Red Mange and Demodex Mange, is caused by the Demodex canis mites. These parasites live in the hair follicles of the dog. It is most common in puppies, as their immune system is not able to handle the mite. Some dogs have outbreaks later in their life and it seems to be related to stress and effects of the stress on the dog’s immune system.
There is typically hair loss and inflamed skin, however, intense itching is NOT a common symptom of demodectic mange. Refer to healthy dog food to see how a hypoallergenic dog food can help your dog’s immune system.
Is Demodectic Mange Contagious?
The mite that causes demodectic mange in dogs is different than the Demodex folliculorum hominis and the Demodex brevis mites that can infest humans. While both types irritate their hosts, the different species cannot live on other types of hosts (human mites are not contagious to dogs, and dog mites are not contagious to humans).
While dogs can transfer the mites to other dogs, if a dog is healthy, with a healthy immune system, the healthy dog can take care of the mites on their own. Puppies with immature immune systems and old dogs with weakened or stressed immune systems are at risk for contracting the mites from other dogs
How Can Dogs Get Demodex Mange
Most dogs have this mite in their follicles throughout their lives. Puppies get the Demodex canis mite from their mother while they are nursing. However, it is when the dog’s immune system cannot keep these parasites in check that any problems occur and Demodectic Mange is developed.
This is why it is common in puppies with underdeveloped or weakened immune systems. Mange in dogs is also common with older dogs who are either in stressful situations or have compromised immune systems.
Symptoms of Demodex Mange
The most common symptom of Demodex, or Red Mange, is hair loss. While this type of mange is typically not as intensely itchy as Sarcoptic Mange in dogs, there can be some mild itching will can lead to secondary bacterial infections of the skin from the itching and from infected pores.
In puppies, the mange tends to start on the facial area, most likely because the mite is transferred during nursing. Small patches of hair loss are considered localized and are much easier to treat than when it becomes generalized, or all over the body.
In older dogs, hair loss is most noticeable on the feet area, and can spread across the whole body.
There are two main classifications of demodectic mange – localized and generalized.
In the localized form, symptoms are small and often it appears similar to ringworm. Hair becomes thin around the eyelids, lips, and corner of the canine’s mouth. Occasionally, this may also affect the trunk, legs, or feet. Eventually this thinning will turn into 1 inch diameter patches of missing hair. Sometimes the skin may become red, scaly, or infected from scratching.
The generalized form is a more severe version of the localized form. The patches are bigger, the skin will form sores and become crusty, and, if left untreated, bacteria may infect the sores and the skin will take on a greasy, swollen appearance. The dog’s lymph nodes may swell as well. This version requires an intense regimen of medicated shampoos and antibiotics to treat it.
Treatment for Demodectic Mange
Since a dog’s body should be able to control an outbreak of this parasite, the immune system definitely needs to be improved and strengthened to be able to keep these mites in check.
While it is best to take your dog to the vet for diagnosis, through a simple skin scraping, and medications can be prescribed, demodectic mange treatment also needs to address nutritional deficiencies as well. Adding dog supplements, such as omega fatty acids and anti-oxidants, helps a weakened immune system to fight off over populations of parasites.
Whether you wish to pursue a completely natural route, or a medical route for recovery, improved nutrition should always be involved in the treatment process for mange in dogs.
Natural dog mange shampoos specifically designed for mange in dogs, such as Defendex, also help reduce the mite population in animals and allow them to try to heal their bodies themselves.
Localized vs Generalized Treatment
If you are dealing with localized mange, then your vet may prescribe Amitraz (diluted) or Goodwinol to be applied to the contaminated area daily. At first, more hair might be loss and the affected area may even look worse, but then after a couple of weeks you should see noticeable improvement.
If you are dealing with generalized mange, or localized that did not respond to the above treatment, then your vet will either prescribe Amitraz dips or internally taken medications such as ivermectin or moxidectin. Amitraz Dips Amitraz dips (prescription is needed) require anywhere from 4 to 14 dips, 2 weeks apart.
Most vets advise clipping long hair dogs before this, so there is better contact with the skin. It is advised to let your local vet’s office perform the dips. Ivermectin (Heartgard), Milbemycin Oxime (Interceptor) or Moxidectin (Advantage) These types of medications are typically administered for heartworm prevention, however many vets use it as a mange treatment as well. ONLY ADMINISTER THESE UNDER VETERINARIAN SUPERVISION, as not all dogs react to these medications in the same way, and can cause serious damage in certain dogs.