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Demodicosis In Dogs

Demodicosis in Dogs is an inflammatory disease that is caused by mites.

If the number of mites in the dog’s hair follicles increase rapidly, it can lead to skin infections, hair loss, and skin lesions.

While the mite infestation results in unsightly symptoms, affected dogs do not need to be isolated from other pets.

Commonly referred to as demodectic mange or red mange, the disease can be either localized or generalized.

Localized Demodicosis

demodicosis in dogsLocalized demodicosis will typically occur early in a dog’s life, usually from three to seven months old.

Localized demodicosis is usually treatable and mild.

Most of the cases will clear up on its own, but there are some dogs where it does progress to generalized demodicosis.

Generalized Demodicosis

Generalized demodicosis will usually occur in older dogs and is a result of an underlying disease that negatively affects a dog’s immune system.

Generalized demodicosis is harder to cure and will not always respond to treatment.

Symptoms of Demodicosis

The symptoms in both localized and generalized are similar, but with generalized demodicosis, the symptoms are more severe and widespread throughout the dogs’ body.

The usual signs are the following:

  • Thinning hair
  • Red, scaly skin
  • Localized cases affect trunk, legs, and face
  • Generalized cases can affect the entire body
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Causes of Demodicosis

Mites, particularly, the Demodex mite that causes the disease normally reside in our dog’s skin.

These mites do not cause any harm and are, in fact, an important part of our dog’s normal skin.

Yet, when dogs have either underlying disease or a weakened immune system, the mites can start to multiply in large numbers.

And this is what can cause the demodectic mange and/or itchy skin.

Diagnosing Demodicosis

In order to diagnose demodicosis, your veterinarian will take skin scrapings to find out the cause and if mites are the culprit.

Other tests might be ordered to find out the severity of the condition, whether it is generalized and therefore an underlying condition is causing the demodicosis.

Demodicosis Treatment

Localized cases need to be monitored, but they may clear up on their own.

While these cases should be observed, more often than not, no treatment is necessary.

Generalized cases, however, are usually treated with an oral or topical medication to fight off the mites. Antibiotics may be prescribed if a secondary infection has set in.

If your dog was unable to fight off the mites due to an immune disorder or other underlying condition, your vet would also need to treat that condition.

Long-term medication could be necessary for severe cases.

It has been suggested that spayed females have a lesser chance of getting the disease.

A low-stress environment and good, high-quality dog food can also help reduce the likelihood of more flare-ups of demodicosis.

Flea and tick medicine are usually recommended for long-term treatment. The frequency of the dose depends on the severity of the disease as well as the brand that is chosen.

But, typically, it can be accomplished with one chewable tablet every 4 to 6 weeks for mange.

Your dog will need to be rechecked regularly in cases of generalized demodicosis to make sure the treatment is working. This is usually done with skin scrapings and/or blood work depending on what had caused the condition.

Prescription medications are covered under many pet insurance plans and yet another benefit of having pet insurance.

Healthy Paws, for example, includes prescription medications under all of their plans, which can really save money in the long run with cases that need on-going treatment.

There are also pet insurance plans with wellness options that can help pay for regular checkups and routine procedures that keep your dog healthy for the long-haul, which is the best defense against the recurrence of the condition.

The typical cost of treatment is $65 to $100 and in some cases will be continued throughout the dog’s life.

Prevention of Demodicosis

The best way to prevent demodicosis is to keep your dog healthy.

A good, high-quality diet, regular vet visits, and a clean-healthy environment can help keep demodicosis from ever occurring.

Demodicosis is not contagious to other dogs, cats or even humans.

Dogs that are known to have long-term generalized demodicosis should not breed as the disease is easily passed to their offspring.


The best way to manage your dog’s demodicosis is through follow-up vet visits to monitor the treatment and to see if there are still mites.

This is usually done with a skin scraping.

For dogs that have chronic or long-term cases, there might be a need for on-going medication.

Your vet will keep your dog on the prescribed medication even several weeks after there aren’t any mites visible to make sure the treatment has been effective.

Dogs with a history of mange are usually kept on flea and tick medication that fights off mange for the duration of their lives.

Most dogs will have a full recovery, especially puppies when they have demodectic mange.

Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.


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