Demodicosis is a parasitic infection of the skin by the mite demodex canis. While young animals are more commonly affected, the condition can occur in dogs of all ages.
Demodicosis often begins around the head. In later stages, the animal’s trunk and limbs become infected. The animal’s coat is falls out in small patches, which produces a "moth-eaten" look. Hair loss is becomes the most obvious around the eyes, which is often circular and accompanied by a swelling and reddening of the skin. An itching sensation usually only occurs if the infestation is producing a secondary bacterial infection of the skin. Crusts, and an intense amount of dandruff can also be seen.
Demodex mites can also be found in small amounts on clinically healthy dogs. A demodex mange only occurs when a massive infestation causes an inflammation of the skin. Transmission of demodex mites occurs through direct contact with an infected animal. The parasite is often passed from a mother dog onto her puppies.
An infection by demodex mites can be diagnosed after an examination of a skin scrape under a microscope. An exact diagnosis is important, as different types of demodex mange exist, and type has a different therapy and prognosis. In general, the mites can be removed with the proper medications or washing-lotions. If a bacterial infection of the skin is present, an antibiotic will have to be used concurrently. Depending upon the diagnosis alterations or additions to the treatment may be necessary. Some varieties of the condition improve quickly, while others require drastic and heavy therapy.
A prophylactic mite treatment is normally not used. Consult with your vet if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. The patient should be immediately separated from other dogs and cats, especially within the household. Inform your vet in advance about your visit so that he/she can take the appropriate measures can be met in order to prevent other animals from being infected. If more than one animal live in your household, all have to be treated, even if they show no symptoms.