Symptoms of Demodectic Mange in Dogs

Demodectic mange in dogs is a very common skin disease, especially in puppies that are less than 18 months old. If it occurs in adults, the disease manifests itself in a more severe form. Demodectic mange is also known as red mange or demodex.

Breeds Susceptible to Demodectic Mange:

  • Pug
  • Beagles
  • Boxers
  • Dachshunds
  • Chihuahuas 
  • Terriers

Canine Demodectic Mange

Canine Demodectic mange is caused by cigar shaped, microscopic mites known as Demodex canis. These mites are generally present in small numbers on the skin of all dogs but don’t cause harm. They thrive and proliferate in the hair follicles of dogs with undeveloped or weakened immune systems and cause damage in such dogs.

Puppies that generally have undeveloped weakened immune systems and dogs with compromised immune systems and underlying medical concerns are most susceptible to Demodectic mange. The areas that are most affected by this disease are the face, the ears and the feet. The disease is characterized by hair loss and at times, a skin infection.

Types and Causes of Demodectic Mange in Dogs

There are 2 types of Demodectic mange that can affect dogs: localized Demodectic mange and generalized Demodectic mange. Young dogs are most likely to get both the forms of this mange although adult dogs can also be affected. The causes are generally genetic defects in the immune system, environmental stress and poor health associated with inadequate nutrition.

Adult dogs whose immune systems have been weakened due to underlying medical conditions like diabetes, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism, heartworm disease and cancer are likely to suffer from Demodectic mange. The medication that’s prescribed for these diseases suppresses the immune system and this could be the reason why such pets develop Demodectic mange.

Symptoms of Localized Demodectic Mange

You can observe small circular patches of naked skin caused by hair loss in pets suffering from localized Demodectic mange. There may be only one such patch or as many as 4 patches on the dog’s skin. These are also known as bald spots. The onset of the bald patches is around the muzzle, the eyes and the ears.

These patches are generally not itchy. If they are itchy, it indicates that they have become infected by bacteria. Localized Demodectic mange is a self limiting disease and the bald patches heal as the puppy grows and his immune system matures. Bald patches are the only symptoms of localized Demodectic mange.

Symptoms of Generalized Demodectic Mange

The bald patches in generalized Demodectic mange are more than 5 in number and cover the entire coat of your pet. Although there is scanty hair covering the skin, the skin isn’t dry but appears moist. Generally, dogs with generalized Demodectic mange also have a bacterial infection.

Other symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • bloody or pus-like discharge from the bald patches
  • crusts and scabs on the skin coat
  • unpleasant odor
  • thick and rough skin
  • fever
  • red skin
  • inflammation of the skin
  • itchiness

Demodectic mange is curable with treatment. You should seek vet help if your pet develops bald patches as any delay in treatment can exacerbate the condition.