Demodicosis is a skin condition found in both dogs and cats. It is caused by skin mites that reside in the hair follicle or less often within the sebaceous gland- the most common being Demodex canis. This mite is part of the normal flora of the skin, but when an animals immune system is weakened, these mites will become abundant and wreak havoc! This skin condition is divided into 2 classifications - juvenile ( < 18 mths) and adult onset. It is further divided into localized or generalized.
If an animal presents with patches of alopecia (hair loss) or scales on either the face and occasionally the extremites, we consider it to be localized. For the generalized form of demodex we look for >5 localized lesions, involvement of 2 feet, entire body hair loss and/or secondary skin infection. Clinical signs of mange may/may not include pruitis(itchiness) - this is more likely if the animal has secondary skin infection.
Predisposing factors for juvenile onset are genetics,poor nutrition,stress and certain breeds. For adult onset, predisposing factors are usually systemic -hypothyroidism,hyperadrenocorticism,cancer/chemo and stress.
The mange mite is not always easy to find but most are diagnosed via a deep skin scraping or hair plucks.
Treatment depends on severity. For many cases that are just localized I will use topical ointment/creams and medicated baths. For generalized cases - I will use interceptor or ivermectin (NOT in collies,shelties,Old Eng.Sheep dog,Australian shep and other breeding dogs), antibiotics, bathing and occasionally amitraz dips. There are additional treatment protocols. Treatment is continued until one month beyond a negative skin scraping, average duration 3 months.
Jax, an adorable 7 mth old hound mix,came to visit me with hair loss. He had recently been adopted by a loving family but had spent most of his first 6 mths in a pound.Then had been shipped up from the south to arrive in RI. As you can tell from the photo he had fur loss on his legs, chest and back.
Jax had generalized demodectic manggeneralized loss of fur - alopecia
He was pruitic and had a secondary skin infection. He turned out to be a classic case of generalized juvenile onset demodicosis...most likely brought on by stress! Jax was treated with ivomec,antibiotics and medicated bath.With in 2 months he was feeling a lot better!