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Demodicosis in Dogs…. Why won’t this go AWAY!

Something that many of us don’t often think about is that underneath all that fur our dogs have is skin! Skin is susceptible to all the various skin disorders that dogs and humans can suffer from. And one of these “skin diseases” your dog might encounter is called demodicosis.


Demodicosis in dogs, sometimes called red mange, is caused by a parasite that makes its way into the hair follicles and oil glands (sebaceous glands), irritating both your furry family member as well as YOU because it is you that is going to have to deal with treating your little buddy.

This is why, in this article,e we wanted to take a moment and discuss precisely what demodicosis is so that you can get a better idea of what to look for in diagnosing it as well as “shed” some light on what it will be like treating a dog with it! So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is Demodicosis?

Demodicosis in dogs occurs with a small group of Demodex mites. Now, most “healthy dogs” can generally stop the spread of demodicosis with their natural immune system. However, if a dog has any illness causing a weak immune system, they might be unable to do that. Thus, the mites can get out of “control,” which will lead to the development of demodicosis.

In cases like these…

The demodicosis may be a “symptom” of a more extensive, serious medical condition such as Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism. Of course, it could also be that your dog just got “overwhelmed” by an infestation of the Demodex mites, in which case they could be healthy other than the rash caused by these parasites. Finally, you’ll always want to have your vet check out your dog to determine the “true” cause for why your dog is having difficulty dealing with these little “Buggars.”

Symptoms / Clinical Signs of Demodicosis

There are two types of demodicosis: localized demodicosis and generalized. Localized demodectic mange is something that happens mostly to puppies and young dogs. They can usually overcome it, possibly without treatment. The clinical signs of local demodicosis include the thinning of hair or fur and the development of scaly skin, typically occurring on the legs and maybe the face.

Generalized demodectic mange…

It is a condition that usually only occurs in older dogs. This is when there’s usually a more significant, underlying problem. Generalized demodectic mange may be harder to treat, and the symptoms are generally more all over rather than to those specific parts of a dog. Additionally, your dog may lose their appetite and be generally lethargic or depressed. Other symptoms for either could include:

  • Sores,
  • Odor,
  • Wrinkling of the skin,
  • Skin infection & secondary infections,
  • Skin lesions,
  • Pustules,
  • Crusting.

Diagnosis for Demodicosis

If your veterinarian suspects demodicosis, they will probably take skin scrapings and test for it. The skin sample will be examined under a microscope. This is called cutaneous cytology. Under the microscope, the vet will be able to see the Demodex mites (which, in our opinion, is pretty “cool” and “gross”!) as well as the actual Demodex infection/reaction.

Treatment of Red Mange

If your dog has generalized demodicosis, this is when treatment is the most important. Your vet will probably prescribe a medicated bath treatment to rid your dogs of the overgrowth. Typically, this “bath treatment” will need to be performed at least four times, once every ten days, so that you not only all of the living demodex mites but also all of the eggs they may have laid directly on your dog’s skin and fur.

Does a medicated bath harm dogs?

It shouldn’t, but of course, all dogs are different. It may cause your pup to have adverse effects such as nausea or feel generally uncomfortable. You’ll want to discuss this with your vet should this occur. Some vets may also recommend benzoyl peroxide shampoo. This gets down in the hair follicles to help your dog overcome mite overgrowth.

Alternately, oral medication options are available to treat your dog as well. Also important is to let your dog be in a well-ventilated area during recovery. But be warned, treating Demodex canis in dogs can take a long time; these little “beggars” can lay many eggs, and getting them all the first time can be tricky! The key here is not to get “discouraged” during treatment; keep at it!

Keep at it…

And be sure to keep in close contact with our veterinarian because they may decide to “mix and match” treatments over a few weeks to try and eliminate all of the Demodex mites.

Which brings us to…

In the part of the article, we would like to remind you that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. All we are is a bunch of folks who are passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. So, if you feel your dog is suffering from demodicosis or any other medical condition, take it to the vet immediately. Not only is it the right thing to do for your pet, but it could save you a ton of money in treating their ailment if caught early!


In our article about demodicosis, we wanted to mention the importance of purchasing a pet insurance policy. If your little buddy gets sick, you won’t be on the “hook” for 100% of their medical bills.

For more information about who we “feel” currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies, be sure to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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