Demodectic mange in a dog

img_2449I’ve had some interesting skin cases this week in the clinic, and had some very frustrated owners attend with a dog with a chronic skin complaint. They had a brown paper bag filled with creams and ointments that had made a small difference but had not cleared the problem. They had even tried an expensive diet thinking their dog had a food allergy. Nothing was working.

It all started months ago on Marvin’s tail. He’s a big Labrador cross puppy and he had no hair at all on his poor tail. Then it spread all over and his hair was falling out; sometimes in clumps.

When he walked into my consulting room, I immediately knew what was wrong. He had classic telltale signs of hair loss around his eyes, but his skin condition wasn’t itchy.

I did a skin scrape biopsy test and took a look under my microscope and this is what I saw: img_2448 A demodectic mange mite! These little guys are different from fox mange mites. They live in the follicles of both pets and humans. You probably have a few in your eyebrows! They are invisible to the naked eye; but look like little crocodiles under the microscope.

This is a disease of mostly young animals. The mite is passed from mother to pup in the first few days of life. They generally don’t cause a problem until after four months of age. Affected dogs are usually not itchy.

Treatment involves topical medications. Some of these cases can be difficult to treat; as they indicate an underlying immunosuppression.

Happily our case is responding to treatment and he’s growing back his beautiful coat just in time for winter!

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