Understanding Demodex Mange In Dogs | Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment - Alpha Dog Nutrition

There are few worse things a responsible dog owner can do than to leave their dog alone when they need help. Demodex mange in dogs is a nasty problem which can develop and cause further problems if left alone for a long time. Although it can often be a self-limiting disease, it is worth checking into.

Imagine having insects living inside your skin and then leaving them there. You probably would go straight to the doctor.

To put it simply, demodex mange is a skin disease where the dog’s skin is infested with tiny cigar-like mites. These mites have eight legs and survive by feasting on the hair follicles and oil glands in the skin. In other words, these mites will take the nutrients and natural elements of a dog’s body and use them to survive. Typically, demodex mites are taken care of naturally by the dog’s system. However, there are demodex mites dogs will need professional assistance with. 

Demodex Mange: Understanding Demodex in Dogs

Before we can break down what demodex mange is, the demodex treatment dogs need and so on, it is important that we first establish enough background knowledge on the disease itself. To put it simply, demodex mange is a condition which, when present, needs to be monitored. Since it is common, most cases will go away on their own accord.

However, advanced and extreme cases should always be handled by a professional. If you are unsure how advanced or extreme the nature of the condition and whether or not your dog is okay, you are best simply making a visit to the veterinarian and getting a professional opinion. However, here is some more important background information on demodex in dogs.

What is Demodex Mange?

As stated, demodex mange is an infestation of your dog’s skin at the hands of mites. Although this is normally a disease which can be managed at home, there are certain times demodex mange becomes a problem that requires professional care. For best results, consider the severity of your dog’s case and then decide the proper route of action.

One thing you should be aware of right off the bat is that demodex in dogs is actually very common. Many veterinarians will consider the presence of a few demodex mites to be both normal and acceptable. In fact, the presence of a trivial case of demodex in dogs can typically mean that the mites will be taken care of naturally, and that your dog will then have immunity to them.

What Does Demodex Mange Look Like?

Spotting demodex mites dogs can handle and process on their own and comparing them with cases that are best handled by a professional veterinarian may be difficult, especially if you are new to this skin disease. To spot demodex mites dogs can handle on their own is simple, as would be estimating whether you have a case of demodex mites dogs cannot handle.

  • Hair loss in patches
  • Frantic itches
  • Swollen, red, crusty and/or scaly skin.

A demodex mite infestation is not something you can typically diagnose on your own. After all, from afar it may look like a rash or another similar type of injury. The sad truth is that many dog owners will wait until demodectic mange develops before they get help.

Where Does Demodex Mange Come From?

Demodex mange is typically transmitted when your dog’s skin touches another dog’s skin. This is a classic means of infecting another dog with demodex mites. Another way that demodex mites can start to affect a dog is if eggs are placed in the dust and then subsequently hatched on the dog’s skin.

Once on the skin, demodex mites begin to carve holes. The focus is on hair follicles, and soon the mites will be underneath the skin itself. Of course, they leave waste behind in their caves, and even die inside the skin. This means that over time, demodex mites can cause irreversible damage to your dog’s skin and health.

Is Demodex Mange Contagious?

Demodex mange is an illness which can be passed from one dog to another pretty easily. All it requires is that your dog touches skin with another dog long enough for the mites on their skin to move over to the new dog’s skin. Once they are on the new dog’s skin, they can immediately start digging and reproducing.

Although there are certain dogs which will naturally be more immune to demodex mites than others, a good general rule of thumb is to keep your dog away from others which you suspect have demodex mites. Some owners may take this as far as minimizing contact that their dog has with stranger dogs and pets.

Can a Dog Infect Humans with Demodex Mange?

YES! In fact, this is one of the main reasons that it is so important to ensure that your dog is okay and that the demodex is manageable. However, those who notice demodex in dogs at home should be proactive and begin treatment. However, it’s important to note that human demodex cases don’t occur very often. Regardless, they are possible and worth mentioning.

As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t freak out and stop touching your dog if you notice a demodex mite or two. Cases of humans contracting demodex mites are very rare. It is nevertheless important to recognize the risk that comes with their presence, and simply be prepared to take your dog to the vet so that you can eliminate any sort of possibility of developing the infection on your own skin.

Can Demodex Mange be Cured?

Curing demodex in dogs is something which is always possible. Depending on the type of dog you have, the type and severity of the mange, and the age of the dog, the prognosis will be different. If your dog is still in the initial developing stages of mange, the treatment process will be rather straightforward and simple.

However, advanced cases of demodex mange can be worrisome. There are cases where the life of your dog can quickly be put at risk because of these mites. Treatments for demodex mites can include shampooing, topical treatment, oral treatment, injection, or whatever is most necessary

Demodex Mange: How to Spot and Handle Demodex in Dogs 




The first step in dealing with demodex in dogs is to confirm that it is indeed a demodex mange problem that your dog is experiencing. Since this skin disease can easily become confused with various other illnesses, the first step is carefully confirming the existence of demodex mites.

Once the demodex mites are pinpointed and identified, you can then start to get an idea of the type of mange that is present, the severity of the case, and then carefully plan your next points of action. It may mean that you go straight to the veterinarian. However, here are some steps to help you spot and handle demodex in dogs right away.

Know the Difference Between Sarcoptic and Demodectic Mange

Sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange are two completely different types of mange. The main difference between sarcoptic and demodectic manage is the severity of the cases. If your dog has lost a great deal of hair, for example, the odds are high that they have developed demodectic mange and will require heavier treatment than a dog with sarcoptic mange.

Demodectic mange is when the mites overgrow and have developed an ecosystem on your dog. This can include elaborate tunnels and compartments in your dog’s skin. You may notice black skin in certain areas where it even seems rotted out. When there is an abundance of mites present, it is much more likely to be demodectic.

Inspect your Dog’s Skin and Fur at the Infected Areas

The most common way to know whether your dog has demodex mange, as we have demonstrated, is to visually confirm the case. Before you decide to take your dog to the vet, start by inspecting your dog’s skin and fur and diagnosing the issue on your own first.

If you are certain that it is demodex mites causing the problem, you can immediately inform the veterinarian upon arrival. This will help save you a lot of time diagnosing and money on a diagnosis; then jump straight into the treatment process.

Take a Picture & Compare with Confirmed Cases

Many people who are concerned about the financial burden of demodex treatment for their dogs should go through every step possible before taking a visit to the doctor. After all, there are various different treatments and remedies which you can try from home.

For starters, take some pictures of the suspected demodex mange and compare them with pictures of confirmed cases. This will help you to quickly notice whether or not your diagnosis is accurate or not. If you notice a rash, but there is no itching or hair loss, for example, it could be an entirely different condition altogether.

Monitor them for Around a Week

Of course, you don’t want to sit around while your dog is suffering from an illness, which when left untreated can cause your dog to even die. However, it is also important to make informed and educated decisions. This includes what your diagnosis is.

Anybody who is reluctant to immediately visit the vet should, after taking the previous steps, monitor your dog for around a week. Notice their habits, how they treat the suspected mange, whether or not they itch it, and whether hair starts to fall out. You might even consider getting a microscope and trying to find the mites on their skin.

Receive an Expert Opinion

Finally, when all else fails, there are immediate benefits that can come from simply paying a visit to the veterinarian. A professional like this has the immediate benefit of experience and specialized knowledge. As a result, he or she will quickly determine whether or not your dog indeed has demodex mange.

Best of all, an expert opinion will also help you pinpoint which treatment and medication options will work the best for your dog’s individual case. Anybody who has a dog which they suspect has advanced demodex mange should, for the benefit of their dog, go to vet right away.

Be Proactive on Demodex in Dogs:

Demodex mange is something which should be taken seriously, regardless of the likelihood that your dog’s life is probably not threatened by this disease. It’s important to remember that many dog owners treat them as if they are family. No responsible parent would let their kid’s hair become infected with lice. Accordingly, those who love and cherish their pets should be proactive and informed about demodex mange, and what to do when it comes.

Routinely Check Your Dog’s Skin

Unless you shave your dog’s hair off, this can be something which is difficult to do routinely. However, if you care for your dog’s health this is something which can have many benefits. Of course, demodex in dogs is not the only thing which you may find by checking your dog’s skin. There have been many circumstances where an owner looked at their dog’s skin only to notice a serious problem.

Inform Your Veterinarian of Your Concerns

Of course, demodex in dogs may not be exactly what you notice when checking your dog’s skin. In fact, there are many other potential problems which can be noticed visually. This includes diseases such as cancer, fungal disease, adrenal gland diseases, and so on. Unless you are absolutely sure that an anomaly on your dog’s skin is demodex mange, informing and visiting the vet when you have a concern will give you the peace of mind that you need.

Certain Dogs are More Prone to Heavy Infestations

Although we have established that demodex in dogs is normally a self-limiting disease which will take care of itself, not all dogs have the right genetics for protecting themselves. Just as some humans are born naturally immune to diseases that their ancestors weren’t, genetics in dogs can also have an influence on what diseases they may acquire.

The truth of the matter is that there are certain dogs that have a genetic predisposition to become much more infected with demodex mites than other dogs. This is caused by an inherited deficiency in a certain breed of antibodies which have all the ammunition your dog needs to naturally fight and remove demodex mites on their own. As a result, a visit to the vet is never a bad idea when you notice demodex in dogs. 

Demodex Treatment Dogs Can Handle

A demodex treatment dogs can handle typically is very simple and contrasts with treatment options which are too extreme. Once we understand where the problem lies (in this case, the skin) we can immediately adjust our course of action and begin properly treating the issue.

When it comes to treatment, veterinarians need to find a balance between the treatment that is effective and the one which is harmless. There are many different chemicals which can be used on a dog’s skin to treat demodex mites which can also hurt the dog.  

Demodex Treatment Dogs Receive at Home

There are two ways which you should go about treating your dog. The first and likely most preferable way of treating your dog is from home. When the animal isn’t suffering from a severe case of demodex mites, they can normally be taken care of without a vet’s assistance. Here are some remedies to consider:

  • Hydrogen peroxide and borax
  • Aloe Vera
  • Honey
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Soap and water
  • Cleaning the dog’s bedding

Perhaps the most effective and popular home remedy is using hydrogen peroxide and borax. However, when these chemicals are mixed together make sure to carefully apply them to your dog’s skin. The dog should not lick off the mixture, and it should be repeated at least once a week.

Demodex Treatment Dogs Receive from the Vet

When taken to the veterinarian, the type of the treatment they choose can depend on their personal training and experience, your dog’s needs, and so on. Taking your dog to the vet is the most efficient way of receiving top-quality service.

The immediate benefit of going to the vet is that they will immediately diagnose the severity of the case. Then, they will pull up their experiences dealing with similar cases and treat your animal in accordance with the knowledge that they have on the topic. A vet is much more knowledgeable and capable of treating your dog than any home service can provide.

Demodex in Dogs and Breeding: Can the Dog Still Breed?

A common concern that dog owners with little ones suffering from demodectic mange have is whether or not their pet will be able to breed. This is a very logical question to answer since there are various diseases one can have (whether you are dog or human) which have an effect on the likelihood of one breeding.

In this case, demodex mites don’t necessarily inhibit a dog from breeding. The mites won’t have an effect on the function of your animal’s reproductive organs to the point where they genetically pass down the mites. However, this doesn’t mean that an infected dog should breed.

Dogs with Advanced Cases Should Not Breed

Largely for ethical reasons, those who have dogs with advanced cases should go through whatever step is necessary to ensure that their dog doesn’t breed. There are various risks that can come with this. For starters, the infected dog can transmit the disease to the other parent before the puppies are born.

Then, once puppies are born to a parent who is infected with demodex mites, the puppies will inevitably pick it up from their parent. After all, puppies will need to be in close contact with their mother during the initial weeks of their life for nursing. It is very likely they will start to have demodex mites crawling in their skin soon.

Minor or Brief Episodes of Demodex are Safe for Breeding Later on

If you have a dog which developed demodex mites for a brief period and then recovered, odds are high that your dog is now both cured and immune from the illness. Since they no longer have mites inhabiting their skin, they are safe to breed and be around their puppies.

Remember that the idea here is to eliminate the transmission of demodex mange from parents to children. Since the disease is typically given from an infected dog by touching skin, dogs which are no longer infected are no longer contagious.

Demodex Mites are not Inherited Genetically

Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about demodex mites being passed down to offspring solely because a parent is infected with demodex mites. However, once a puppy is born and is in contact with the parent, they can touch skin and quickly start to share the infection.

If you have bred a dog which comes from an infected parent, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the children will develop demodex mites. However, it is critical that you quarantine the infected parent from their puppies. If the mother is infected, then you need to immediately seek help and find a means to safely nurse the puppies without spreading the demodex mites from the mother to the puppies.

Demodex in Dogs: Summary and Suggested Treatment

The first step in treating demodex in dogs is to confirm that the problem is indeed demodex mange. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the means of treatment become clearer. Since this is an illness where bugs will literally carve caves into your dog’s skin, the sooner you act the better.

If you think the problem isn’t severe, then try to treat the animal at home using some of the over-the-counter and natural medications described above. However, advanced cases should be immediately forwarded to a veterinarian. In any case, demodex in dogs is an illness which can turn serious and deadly if not monitored and controlled right away.

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