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Demodectic Red Mange

Overview

Demodex or Demodectic red mange can appear in localized areas or it can affect a dog's entire body (other names are Follicular mange or Demodectic mange). The condition is caused by3 mite species (Demodex canis - most common, Demodex gotoi and Demodex injai) that naturally live on dogs in low numbers.

Mites are passed from mother to puppy due to the close contact between the animals. The mites burrow deep into the hair follicles. In healthy dogs they are kept under control and do not cause any problems. Since the mites are deep into the follicles, reaching the mites with an insecticide is harder than when treating other parasitic diseases.

Picture of Demodectic Red Mange

Localized case of Demodectic Red Mange around a dog's eye. Localized cases in healthy dogs should heal on their own.

In some dogs under age 18 months with an under developed immune system or inherited condition, the mites multiply into numbers that can cause clinical symptoms such as hair loss, moderate skin itch and pus filled skin pustules. When the disease occurs in older dogs, a veterinarian will look for medications or another condition that might be depressing the immune system such as Cushing's Disease, hypothyroidism or Diabetes.

Diagnosis is complicated by the odds of selecting a skin area which contains a mite, the parasite which causes the condition. If no mite is found after a skin scraping, yet the symptoms look like mange, the mange diagnosis will be confirmed if a dog positively reacts to treatment.

The disease name, Red Mange, is based on the reddish skin appearance caused by the condition. Demodectic Red Mange is not considered to be contagious and does not require the isolation of infected dogs unless their are dogs present with weakened immune systems.

Diagnosis

Mites are only found in 50% of Mange cases. Diagnosis is difficult since constant scratching might remove the mites from a particular skin area, leaving behind skin sores and lesions (caused by toxins left behind by the mites). This makes scrape tests where the skin is scraped and looked at under the microscope unpredictable.

Most veterinarians will treat for mange as a way of diagnosing the problem. If symptoms subside after 2 to 4 weeks, then it is assumed that your pet has mange.

References

The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats
Prevention Magazine

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