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Health Inset > Skin Care > Demodicosis

Demodicosis

What is Demodicosis?

Demodicosis is a type of skin disease which is caused by a small mite not clearly visible to the naked eye. This mite lives in the roots of hair. All normal dogs suffer from a mild growth of mites, but only a few numbers of animals get a disease from an overgrowth of such arachnids. This small mite is known by the name of Demodex canis. Demodex is a genus of mite in the family Demodicidae.

Demodicosis Causes

Mites tend to grow rapidly if a dog suffers from an impaired immune system, acute stress or malnutrition.

Picture of Demodicosis

Picture 1 - Demodicosis

This disease is mostly found to develop in dogs of the following breeds:

  • Afghan hound
  • Boston terrier
  • Bull terrier
  • Beagle
  • Collie
  • Chihuahua
  • English bulldog
  • Staffordshire terrier
  • Dalmatian
  • English pointer
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Old English sheepdog
  • German shepherd
  • Pit bull
  • Great Dane
  • Pug

Demodicosis Types

The condition gets manifested in dogs in two forms.

Localized

Demodicosis may be localized. It is a mild disorder characterized by one or more small scaly reddened areas of hair loss which is commonly on the face or front legs. This is usually seen in pups of 3-6 months. In most cases, such patches resolve spontaneously.

Image of Demodicosis

Picture 2 - Demodicosis Image

Generalized

When the disease is generalized, it becomes a severe skin disease in dogs. It starts out with local lesions that worsen and spread to other regions of the body – generally the head and the legs. There is development of secondary infections of the follicles of hair as well as formation of large scaly patches that ultimately cover most of the body surface of an affected dog. The deep skin infections can get complicated by resistant bacteria.

Demodicosis Symptoms

Minor cases of the disease present themselves as pustules on a dog’s skin, redness, scaling, hair loss or any combination of these. The pustules usually appear first on the face, around the eyes, corners of the mouth and on the forelimbs and paws. In acute cases, loss of hair might occur all over the body and might be accompanied by enlargement of lymph nodes, pain, deep skin infections and crusting. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Scaling of lids
  • Itchiness
  • Ocular irritation

Demodicosis Diagnosis

The doctor will perform deep skin scrapings to examine the microscopic mites. The mites are observed under low power microscope since light makes them crawl back under the follicle. If the skin of the dog is thick a biopsy may be done. A small sample of the skin of an affected dog is removed by administering local anesthetic.

Demodicosis Treatment

Mild cases of the condition heal spontaneously without any treatment. A veterinarian might recommend a mild parasitic ointment or lotion to rub on the affected area. An affected dog is likely to be checked again after 4 weeks whether the condition has stopped or is spreading again. Severe cases are also treated successfully. However, the treatment is lengthy and expensive. Most dogs recover after 4-8 treatments. The treatment is done by clipping the hair coat of a dog completely so that the skin comes in better contact with the medication to remove all the crusts. A medicated shampoo should be used to bathe the dog to kill bacteria and remove debris. A solution, known as Amitraz, should be applied over the affected regions of the body to destroy the mites. This is effective in case of most of the dogs affected by this condition.

Mercury oxide and Pilocarpine gel are often used to control the spread of mites and remove itching. Other acaricide (chemical agent used to destroy mites) treatment options such as Milbemycin, Ivermectin are also very effective.

References:

http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/Dermatology/Canine-demodicosis-Serious-disease-requires-aggres/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/382839

http://www.upei.ca/~cidd/Diseases/dermatology/demodicosis.htm

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=1556

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demodicosis

 

By   Last updated November 27th, 2012

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