What is Demodectic Mange in Dogs
Demodectic mange, sometimes red mange, arises from a parasitic skin condition triggered by mites, notably Demodex canis, Demodex injai, and Demodex cornei. When examined under a microscope, they display a unique cigar-like shape accompanied by eight stubby legs.
While these mites naturally reside in hair follicles, they're typically harmless in a balanced environment. When a dog's immune system is weakened or underdeveloped, these mites proliferate, leading to symptoms such as hair loss and reddened, flaky skin.
These mites are typically transferred from mother to pup during nursing, given the young one's still developing immune defenses. Yet, a healthy dog coming into contact with an affected one shouldn't be a cause for alarm. This is because the outbreak of demodectic mange hinges on a weakened immune response and isn't easily transmitted between dogs.
Furthermore, there's no risk of demodectic mange jumping from our canine friends to humans.
Symptoms of Demodectic Mange in Dogs
Symptoms of demodectic mange encompass:
- Skin scaling
- Pigmentation of the skin
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Thickening of the skin
- Bumps on the skin (papules)
The degree of itchiness might fluctuate based on whether secondary infections arise or the affected areas are specific to one region or spread across the body.
Young pups' initial affected regions often revolve around the facial and cranial areas due to nursing from their mother. However, these signs can manifest anywhere on the body. In advanced cases where the mange spreads extensively, one might observe discomfort, sluggishness, elevated temperature, oozing sores, and swollen skin. Additionally, if the mites penetrate the ear passages, it can lead to ear infections.
Causes of Demodectic Mange in Dogs
Demodectic mites usually reside on the skin, coexisting peacefully with their hosts without causing any harm. However, issues arise when there's an overgrowth of these mites around hair follicles. This often happens in individuals with compromised immune defenses, such as young pups with still-developing immunity or senior dogs with health conditions weakening their immune systems.
It's worth noting that Demodex is commonly present on the skin of both healthy dogs and humans. However, when the immune system weakens, there's a surge in mite numbers, resulting in itchiness and mange. Typically, the transmission of this mite primarily occurs among dogs during their puppy phase, with the mother being the most common source.
Diagnoses of Demodectic Mange in Dogs
Mange is typically identified through skin scrapings, hair extraction, and cytological examinations. This procedure involves gently scraping the skin with a scalpel blade, often deep enough to induce minor irritation or slight bleeding, given that Demodex mites reside deep within hair follicles. Alternatively, hair can be pulled out from the root for examination. These samples are then studied under a microscope, and detecting mites confirms a positive diagnosis.
In some instances, mites might be detected through fecal tests since dogs can ingest them when lick or chew their skin.
While Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is an option, it may sometimes produce false negative outcomes and might not be required if the diagnosis is clear from other methods.
When treatments don't yield results or other diagnostic methods are inconclusive, a skin biopsy might be deemed necessary. Such biopsies are especially considered in advanced or widespread cases of Demodex.
Treatment of Demodectic Mange in Dogs
Demodectic mange doesn't always necessitate intervention. In many instances, especially when confined to a limited area, the condition resolves within 1 to 2 months. However, topical treatments like moxidectin or imidacloprid might benefit certain localized infections.
For more widespread demodectic mange cases, medicated treatments are advised. Common therapies encompass both oral and topical miticidal treatments like
- Fluralaner (known as Bravecto)
- Afoxolaner (Nexgard)
- Sarolaner (Simparica)
- Lotilaner (Credelio).
It's essential to note that dogs possessing the MDR1 genetic mutation should steer clear from ivermectin. Genetic testing can help identify this mutation.
Miticidal treatment is typically sustained until two consecutive negative results from skin scrapings or hair extractions exist. Shampoos infused with benzoyl peroxide can be beneficial as they cleanse and unclog hair follicles, ensuring enhanced efficacy of dips and topicals. It's crucial to evaluate these treatments' advantages and potential side effects with a veterinarian.
Inflammation can pave the way for secondary skin infections, which might necessitate antibiotic intervention. Sometimes, addressing the skin infection becomes a priority over treating demodectic mange.
Furthermore, it's advised against breeding dogs that exhibit widespread demodex infections. This is because the ailment might stem from genetic or immune system vulnerabilities that promote mite proliferation.
Prevention and Recovery of Demodectic Mange in Dogs
With prompt and suitable treatment, most dogs diagnosed with mange experience a full recovery. Persistent treatment is often necessary for those with secondary infections or other underlying health issues.
If left untreated or underlying health concerns aren't adequately addressed, mange can become life-threatening for dogs.
While demodectic mange doesn't typically spread between dogs and hence doesn't necessitate environmental cleaning, it's still advisable to use monthly or quarterly miticidal preventatives. Maintaining regular miticidal prevention is essential for protection against other mites, fleas, and ticks unless your veterinarian advises otherwise.