Demodicosis in Dogs

Also referred to as red mange, demodicosis in dogs is an infestation caused by the Demodex mite. Although this mite is naturally found in the normal bodily flora of dogs, the immune system keeps it in check.

Impaired or immature immune systems, however, might cause the Demodex to flourish leading to the thickening of scaly patches on the dog’s skin. Luckily, you can easily treat the patches if they are small and localized, although when the infestation spreads over an extensive area of the skin it will require more aggressive and persistent treatments to deal with.

That said, demodicosis in dogs is the thickening and inflammation of the skin when the Demodex mite that lives naturally on your pet’s skin over-proliferates.


While the exact cause of demodicosis is unknown, experts now believe that a variety of genetic factors – including immune system problems – might predispose your pet to developing the conditions.

Today, 3 main species of mite cause red mange. Although the mode of transmission is not yet known, what is clear is that one particular type of mite – Demodex canis – inhabits the hair follicles and skin of dogs and might transfer from a mother to her newborns during nursing.


Most of the symptoms of demodicosis in dogs can be skin of the affected canine. These signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to:

– Wrinkling

– Warm to the touch

– Unpleasant odor

– Sores

– Sensitivity to touch

– Redness

– Pustules

– Loss of hair

– Leathery or scaly appearance

– Infections

– Discoloration

– Crusting

When the mites invade the lymph nodes, there may be additional signs of demodicosis. These include loss of appetite, lethargy, and fever.


Demodicosis is diagnosed and recognized through skin scrapings. Plucking hairs might also help you to identify the particular type of mite that is responsible for the red mange in your dog (s).

You can also perform a urine test to identify any other possible diagnosis – including those that might be as a result of disorders in the pet’s metabolic system. Other diagnoses can include bacterial infections in the canine’s hair follicle.


Most of the localized signs and symptoms of demodicosis in dogs tend to resolve naturally and spontaneously. However, the condition might also be treated using topical insecticides, which hasten healing by killing the mites responsible for the red mange. However, you need more intensive and aggressive therapy to deal with generalized demodicosis if it does spread all over the pet’s entire body.

You can also kill the mites using medicated baths containing the Amitraz pesticide. Repeat these baths approximately every fortnight a minimum of six times until the mites disappear from your dog’s skin.


Overall, treating demodicosis in dogs might prove to be a challenge. However, as long as you follow the recommendations above, as well as any from your vet, the problem should be easy to control.

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