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What is Demodex ?

Generally, once your dog has had an infestation of demodex and the mites have been completely eliminated, they do not become re-infested with the mites. This is because your dog’s immune system is now able to recognize and eliminate any new demodex mites. Some dogs that have a weak immune system will not be able to eliminate the mites without medical intervention.

Demodex, also known as demodectic mange, in dogs is a mite infestation on your dog’s skin. The mites are tiny, eight legged, cigar shaped, and feed in the hair follicles and oil glands of the skin. Most cases of demodex are self-limiting, meaning your dog is able to stop the growth and reproduction of the demodex mites and will also repair the damage that was done by the mites.

Symptoms of Demodex in Dogs

When demodex first appears, it may just look like a small spot of hair loss, possibly from rubbing the area. However, if you notice any crusting on the skin or the hair loss spreads contact your veterinarian for an appointment. Symptoms of demodex to look for include:

  • Hair loss in patches
  • Rubbing their face or head
  • Redness or inflammation of the skin
  • Excessive oil on the skin
  • Crusting on the skin
  • Paws that are swelling

Types

Demodex has three distinct varieties.

Localized

This type of demodex will affect only a few parts of the body, usually the face. It will appear as just a small lesion around the face and is commonly seen in puppies. Most cases of localized demodex will resolve without any treatments as the puppies immune systems mature.

Generalized

This type of demodex will affect larger areas of skin or possibly the entire body. Generalized demodex will many times cause secondary bacterial infections. These bacterial infections will cause intense itching and a foul odor. It can be very difficult to fully eliminate all the mites.

Demodectic Pododermatitis 

This type of demodex is located on the feet only. It causes secondary bacterial infections that are located between the pads and the toes. This type is the most difficult to fully cure.

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Causes of Demodex in Dogs

Demodex is caused by the Demodex canis, which is a parasite or mite that lives in the hair follicles of dogs. All dogs have these mites living on their skin but will not have a reaction to these mites unless their immune system is deficient. 

Demodex is most common in puppies and dogs that have immature immune systems. The mites will multiply uncontrollably when your dog’s immune system is immature or weak and unable to properly dispose of the excessive mites. Most adult dogs will be able to fight off the excessive mites without needing medical intervention. Older dogs may also show symptoms of demodex as their immune systems begin to decline and with age.

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Diagnosis of Demodex in Dogs

Your veterinarian will begin by taking a complete medical history on your dog. They will also ask you about any changes in diet or environment. Then, your veterinarian will complete a full physical examination on your dog, paying close attention to any bald spots or noticeable lesions.

Your veterinarian will do a complete blood count and will also do a skin scraping of an affected area. The skin scraping will be placed under a microscope and your veterinarian will look for mites. Demodex canis mites are fairly easy to spot under the microscope. 

If your dog is a mature dog, your veterinarian may also search for the reason the Demodex canis mites were able to multiply uncontrollably. There is usually an underlying cause that is suppressing the immune system and sometimes it is extremely difficult to find what that cause is.

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Treatment of Demodex in Dogs

Once your veterinarian has diagnosed demodex they will begin treatments to get rid of the overgrowth of mites. Anti-mite creams can be used as well as anti-inflammatory creams and corticosteroid creams. Your veterinarian may also recommend using benzoyl peroxide on larger areas. Your veterinarian will probably trim the hair around the affected areas. This will allow the prescribed creams to work more effectively on the affected areas. 

Some cases of demodex may require the use of anti-parasitic medications. Your veterinarian will prescribe the medications they feel will work best on your dog. Antibiotics may also be used in cases where bacterial infections from the demodex have occurred.

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Recovery of Demodex in Dogs

Most cases of demodex are treatable. Dogs that are suffering from a weak or suppressed immune system will be much more susceptible to other diseases and conditions as well as relapses of demodex. Dogs that have immature immune systems, such as puppies, will generally recover from demodex and will not have a relapse. 

Speak with your veterinarian regarding your dog’s prognosis. Dogs that have weak or suppressed immune systems should not be used for breeding. Puppies who have developed a case of demodex can still be bred when they are older as long as the demodex does not recur.

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Demodex Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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tyson

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Labrador

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9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Itching And Red Patches

hi my dog is 9 yrs old and suffering from demodex cannis from past 3 yrs. what should i do. how to prevent him from this disease. every year its coming near by march and continue till november. meaniwhile i connot use dog shampoo because its always react to him . which shampoo i have to use for him. and which medicine i have to give him.

July 2, 2018

tyson's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is important to confirm with your Veterinarian whether it is Demodex or another type of mite as the treatment is different; for Demodex canis there are many different shampoos and dips (with amitraz) but you should ideally speak with your Veterinarian for a skin scrape to confirm and to ensure the correct treatment is given. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 2, 2018

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Lucky

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Pit bull

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4 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching And Biting Skin

My dog seems to have mange and I have started bathing him a couple times a week with Veterinary Formula Antiseptic & Antifungal Medicated Shampoo. He is only about 4 months old so will this shampoo help to rid this mange.

June 22, 2018

Lucky's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic & Antifungal Shampoo is for bacterial and fungal infections, it is not intended or effective to be used against Sarcoptic mange or Demodectic mange; if mange (mites) are suspected then the specific type of mange should be identified and treated accordingly (see second link below) since they have different treatments. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM http://synergylabs.com/shop/veterinary-formula-clinical-care-antiseptic-antifungal-shampoo/ www.msdvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/mange/mange-in-dogs-and-cats

June 22, 2018

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Harley

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Border Terrier

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5 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Balance
Loss Of Appetite
Scratching

My puppy has démodex we have given him anti biotics anti itch tablets and pain killers nothing has given relief yesterday vet gave him an aludex bath today he still seems Irrated feel like we’re getting nowhere should we still use advocate or change to something else?

June 5, 2018

Harley's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Treatment of Demodex may include the use of amitraz (Aludex), moxidectin (Advocate), ivermectin or milbemycin (or a combination of them); amitraz is a common product used in the treatment of Demodex, ivermectin and milbemycin should be used with caution in herding breeds sensitive to MDR1. Continue to use for Aludex for the Demodex and the antibiotics for any secondary infection from scratching; discuss with your Veterinarian about other treatment options and monitor for improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.merckvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/mange/mange-in-dogs-and-cats#v3279943 http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/canine-and-feline-demodicosis?id=&sk;=&date;=&pageID;=4

June 6, 2018

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Rocky

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Pug

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11 Weeks

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Face

We have a 11 week old pug who suddenly had a swollen “fat roll” on the top of his nose. I thought it was a bite at first but when it didn’t go down we took to vet who diagnosed demodex mite. The advice was to treat with a once off chew of simparica but the swelling is still there. This was 6 days ago, should he be going back for further treatment? I have bathed him in a sensitive dog wash with tea tree oil and no noticeable improvement.

May 20, 2018

Rocky's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Simparica (sarolaner) is effective at treating Demodex over a period of time, one study (quoted in the link below) showed that mite counts were reduced by 97.1% by day 14; it is possible that there is still some irritation to the skin or the swelling may be due to other cause. If there is no improvement you should visit your Veterinarian again after a few days for a check up to see if there is any improvement or if any other treatment is required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/new-hope-defeating-demodicosis

May 20, 2018

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Jelly

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Miniature Australian Shepherd

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Eye, Scrapings, Hair Loss.

My dog (2 years old) was diagnosed with demodex a month ago. She had scrapings and loss of hair. Vet prescribed Nextgard (taken once a month), symptoms seem to be getting better within 2 weeks. However, on her 3rd week she started to show scrapings and now her whole eye is swollen. Vet is saying we should wait a month and give her another Nextgard, but seem like this not helping.

May 17, 2018

Jelly's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Nexgard is an effective therapy for Demodex, but may need to be given multiple months in a row. Sometimes dogs will develop a secondary bacterial infection during the treatment, and Jelly may need antibiotic therapy in the meantime. Since her signs seem to be worsening, it would be a good idea to have her seen, and see if she does need any other therapy.

May 17, 2018

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Odie

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Staffy/Lab mix

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Itching
Scabs
Biting

My 3 yr old Staffy mix has a history of demodex. He hasn’t had any type of flare up since after we got him cured after adoption. He recently was boarded at a place near us, and they gave him a bath. His skin was very flaky and dry when we picked him up, and he’s been itchy since. Now it looks like he had a demodex flare up. We took him to the vet, and said he thinks that could be it, but isn’t sure because there were no mites found. Could the bath have irritated his skin so much that it caused a flare up?

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Piper and Lexie

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Boxer

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12 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pimples Covering Their Entire Face

My breeder contacted me to let me know one of the other puppies in the litter has demodex- I was appalled. I purchased two from that litter. I thought the marks on them was from their rough play, but it turns out it’s from a parasite. Their little faces are just covered, I sure hope this doesn’t leave them scarred up. Taking them to the vet first thing in the morning!!!

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Bentley

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French Bulldog

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5 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

I have a 5 month old french bulldog puppy who I’ve just taken to the vet a few days back. I was told that it’s the demodex mite but his condition isn’t as severe. He appears to have a small patch on his skin on his front paw where he’s lost hair. First it only looked like a small scratch to me and i didn’t think it would be a mite. however the vet said it’s common for puppies and she gave me bravecto and said i need to give it to him one tablet every 3 months. I’m worried that bravecto won’t help and i’m not sure how long am i supposed to be giving it to him as they are chewy tablets. Are there any other recommendations or anything else there is to help him get rid of it if bravecto doesn’t help much.

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Rosie

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Blue Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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Serious severity

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3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Dandruff
Sores
Scabbing
Swelling
Weakness
Wound
Coarse Hair

My vet said it was just an infection. He said he didn't know what it was but I'm sure what my dog has is generalized demodex from doing some research. I need a solution and fast. She has sores all over her body mainly on her chest, shoulders, and rump on top off her back. Underneath her back legs on her stomach there are patches of yellow or black growths similar to the type of acne called cutaneous horns.

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Emma

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German Shepherd

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6 Months

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Hair-Area Is Quarter Sized.

When my 5 month old German Shepherd puppy began to teeth, one side of her muzzle, where the side whiskers are, became pimply, and there was a very slight loss of hair. She did`nt scratch the area and the breeder dismissed it as serious, saying it was like acne, that the puppy would outgrow it. Anyways, while at the vet for her booster shot, I asked the vet, who said she did`nt know, but if the hair loss area got bigger, come back and she`d do a skin scrapping. One month later, it doubled in size, and the skin scraping confirmed demodex. She prescribed Bravecto to be given every 3 months. She was optimistic that would do the job, and that the puppy would fully recover. She also said not to put anything topical on the area.