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Demodicosis In Dogs – Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis

Demodicosis In Dogs

The total number of mite species is approximately 1 million. In this extremely diverse morphology, only a very few are parasitic though they can cause a significant mess in dogs. Usually, they hide in your dog’s skin and cause inflammation and irritation.

Mites are responsible for ‘mange’, an inflammatory parasitic skin disease considered to be connected with a genetic or immunologic disorder. There are two different mango mites that affect dogs. The demodectic mange resides in the hair follicles and sebaceous glands while the sarcoptic mange lives just under the surface of the skin.

Demodex canis, the main causative agent of Demodectic mange, is shaped like a tiny cigar sporting eight legs. Demodex cornei and Demodex injai also contribute to this condition. Also called ‘Demodex’ or ‘red mange’, Demodectic mange is the most prevalent form of mange in dogs. When a dog has an immature immune or weakened immune systems system, Demodectic mange mites increase rapidly. This disease is more prevalent in dogs less than 12 - 18 months of age and older dogs.

Demodectic mange is not infectious to other pets or humans. However, mother dogs transmit demodex mites to puppies during the first few days of life. As the mite is common on almost all dogs, contact of a healthy dog with dogs with demodectic mange is not dangerous.

Symptoms Of Demodicosis

  • Crusting on the skin
  • Scaly or leathery appearance
  • Sores
  • Redness/Discoloration
  • Infections
  • Loss of hair in patches
  • Pustules
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Wrinkling
  • Warm/Sensitive to touch

Treatment Options For Demodicosis

Topical products include:

  • Benzoyl peroxide Special cleansing shampoos
  • Topical treatments: Imidacloprid, moxidectin, and doramectin
  • Selenium sulphide shampoo- weekly once for three weeks
  • Ivermectin injection. Dogs must be heartworm negative before initiating therapy. This is not used in Collies, Shelties
  • LymDyp- Lime sulphur dips applied every 5 to 7 days for 6 dips. Dilute the solution as directed on the label

Most spot-on products are also effective. Examples include:

  • Revolution (selamectin) once a month for three months
  • Moxidectin
  • Fipronil (dogs and cats only)

Home Remedies For Demodicosis

  • Mite hotspots are upholstered furniture, bedding, pillows, mattresses, carpets, or curtains in your home. When you notice a significant infestation, Wash your linens in very hot water (+130°) at least once a week to kill dust mites.
  • There are air filters that can stop the spreading of dust mites. Special HEPA air filters in the vacuum cleaner, portable air filter unit, and the HVAC system effectively trap mites, dust, and skin cells.
  • When the dust mites in your home are out of control, there are commercial powders and pesticides available to use for dust-mite control.

Prevention Of Demodicosis

  • A wide variety of effective tick collars, spot-on treatments, and oral medications are available; Consult with your veterinarian about the best product for your dog.
  • Discourage your dog from roaming freely in grassy forested pathways and wooded tick-infested areas.
  • After any time spent in grassy or wooded areas, run a good old-fashioned "mite check” and feel for bumps on the dog tick trail.
  • Frisk your dog – in the ears, neck, belly, chest, back, and toes for any fleas or ticks.
  • Flush the dog’s ear monthly with an apple cider vinegar and water solution or a commercial ear flush.
  • There are medicated shampoos for pets specifically for controlling mites and other parasites.

Affected Breeds Of Demodicosis

Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Shar Pei, Pug, French Bulldog, Boxer, Dogue De Bordeaux

Additional Facts For Demodicosis

1. Causes:

Demodex canis- This is the most common form of Demodex. 30-250 μm long.

Demodex cornei– A morphological variant of D.canis and the smallest of Demodex species to inhabit dogs (only half the length of D.canis).

Demodex injai- This recently found variant is the largest form of Demodex(330 to 370 µm); outbreaks of the D.injai are usually limited to the hindquarters and back of the dog.

2. Types:

Localized demodicosis: This is found in young dogs <1 yr old usually as a lesion in the face. Most of these cases resolve on their own.

Juvenile onset generalized demodicosis: This is due to an inherited immunologic defect.

Adult-onset generalized demodicosis: This is similar to juvenile-onset generalized demodicosis but is seen in adult dogs.

3. Mortality:

There is no reported mortality due to mites’ intestinal infection.

4. Diagnosis:

  • Complete blood profile and urinalysis
  • Cutaneous cytology- the skin sample from the dog is examined microscopically

5. Prognosis:

Most cases of Demodicosis are treatable. Immunosuppressed Dogs will be much more vulnerable to other diseases and conditions as well as relapses of Demodicosis.

When To See A Vet

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

  • Crusting on the skin
  • Scaly or leathery appearance
  • Sores

Food Suggestions For Demodicosis

  1. Lean Protein and Low-fat meats (ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats = 5:1)
  2. White Rice, Boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast meat
  3. Potatoes and Pumpkin (canned or pureed)
  4. Probiotics (yogurt, Goat's Milk, fermented vegetables, kefir with live cultures)
  5. Mashed boiled potatoes, carrots
  6. Bananas, Apples, Seaweed


For mild infestation, once treatments have begun a quick recovery can be assured. If there is a severe infestation, it will take longer for your dog to recover.

Always adhere to your veterinarian's treatment plan and use medications as directed.

Most of the medications have to be repeated in two to three weeks to break the life cycle so that we don't just get it again from the same source.

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