Demodex Mites

What are Demodex mites?

Demodex are tiny mites that naturally live on the skin of dogs and cats. They reside in hair follicles and sebaceous glands in the skin. Normal and healthy animals can have Demodex mites but not develop disease.

 

How do they cause disease?

The reason Demodex mites cause disease in some animals is unknown. In young animals, it may be due to genetics, poor nutrition or stress. In adult animals, overgrowth of Demodex mites may be due to underlying disease or an immune deficiency. For this reason it is important to consult your vet about

signs of demodectic mange as it may be due to a more serious underlying condition. Although most animals have some Demodex mites, an overgrowth of mites can cause hair loss and skin inflammation. This disease is known as demodicosis or demodectic mange. Hair loss and skin inflammation may be limited to a small area (localised) or involve many areas of the body (generalised). In some cases localised demodectic mange will progress to generalised demodectic mange.

 

What does demodectic mange look like?

  • Patches of hair loss
  • Scaly or thickened skin
  • Reddened or darkened skin
  • Pimples or rashes
  • Sometimes itchiness and scratching

 

How do we diagnose demodectic mange?

Your vet will take a sample by scraping the skin or plucking hairs out and look under the microscope for

Demodex mites. Even a small number of mites can suggest an overgrowth.

 

Why are only some animals affected?

The reason Demodex mites cause disease in some animals is unknown. In young animals, it may be due to genetics, poor nutrition or stress. In adult animals, overgrowth of Demodex mites may be due to underlying disease or an immune deficiency. For this reason it is important to consult your vet about signs of demodectic mange as it may be due to a more serious underlying condition.

 

Is demodectic mange contagious?

Demodectic mange is not contagious between dogs and cats or between animals and humans.

 

How is demodectic mange treated?

Localised demodectic mange usually resolves spontaneously and does not require treatment. Generalised demodectic mange requires ongoing treatment and may take up to a year to resolve. Your vet will prescribe a miticidal drug such as Ivermectin, afoxolaner (Nexgard) or fluralaner (Bravecto). Your vet will continue to check for Demodex mites using skin scrapes. Your dog or cat may also need antibiotics for bacterial skin infections secondary to demodectic mange.

 

Demodex-Mites-2  Demodex-Mites-3