Sarcoptic and demodetic mange in dogs

What the heck are these and what is wrong with these poor dogs!? Sarcoptic and demodetic mange are both caused by very small mites that can only been seen under the microscope. These mites cause very similar appearing presentations BUT look (see images) and act very differently!


Let me explain…

Sarcoptic mange or scabies is caused by CONTAGIOUS mites called Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis. They burrow into the surface of the skin and will make your dog INCREDIBLY itchy. Any age, breed, and gender of dog can be affected in any season. Scabies mites are not a normal finding. If found on a dog, we ALWAYS treat.


Demodetic mange or demodecosis is a little bit different. It is caused by a mite called Demodex. Demodex burrows really deep into the skin follicles. These mites are actually part of the normal microflora of dogs so they do not cause problems UNLESS the mites overgrow. Typically, Demodex overgrowth is only a problem in immunosuppressed, malnourished, or young animals. When overgrown, dogs are very itchy! If we find a few Demodex mites under the microscope of a healthy dog with no lesions, we do not need to treat. These are part of the normal skin!


How do we find these mites? We take multiple skin scrapings and look at the cells under the microscope. You have to scrape DEEP for DEMODEX so we need to scape till we get blood. But.. sometimes these mites are really difficult to find and require biopsies to be identified.


How do we treat these mites? Scarcoptes needs to be treated with a topical and/or oral anti-parasitic treatment to kill the mites on the dog, environmental disinfection with parasiticidal sprays, +/- antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.


Demodex is sometimes a bit more complicated because we need to identify the underlying disease that may be causing immunosuppression in the pet. Full body (generalized) Demodex also requires topical or oral antiparasitics and antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection is found.


How do we prevent these mites? Scabies: keep your pets away from other wild animals that may carry the mite (coyotes, foxes, etc) and treat regularly with routine antiparasitics.

Demodex: routine veterinary care to identify underlying diseases, good nutrition, etc.

Thank you to Saving Grace Animal Society for helping these pups



#itchydog #mites #dogparasites #externalparasites

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