Demodex is the reason behind the inflammatory parasitic disease which can be commonly seen in the canine family. The demodectic mange aka demodicosis takes place due to the infestation of the microscopic mites. The mites are known to get themselves burrowed deep into hair follicles and skin pores of their host. They are host specific and can affect cats, dogs, sheep, goats etc. They feed on the cellular debris that lies in the hair follicles of their host. It has been observed that during the nursing stage the mites get transmitted to the off spring from the dam. Generally animals less than 12 months are afflicted by this disease. The demodicosis is commonly found in the short haired pedigree breeds, for example; German shepherd, Staffordshire bull terrier, Dalmatians, Collies etc.
Animals suffering from demodicosis are easily identified from their sudden hair loss at an alarming rate. Crusting followed by grey hyper-pigmentation with plugged follicles are the typical signs found on puppies and dogs. There are two types of affliction, localized and generalized.
Localized demodicosis (3 to 6 months): In such cases the mites are known to proliferate in a few confined areas. This eventually results in scaly hairless patches, mainly in the facial area of the dog. Localized demodicosis is a common infliction mostly affecting the puppies and more than half of the cases are solved without any serious medication.
Generalized demodicosis (6 to 12 months) : In contrast to the previous case, such mange affects large areas of a canine. It can cover a full body of a dog and make the suffering more painful. It is a known fact that a bacterial disease of such magnitude can make things more itchy and smelly at the same time. It is to be noted that such infliction can also be a sign of poor immunity, endocrine problem etc.
To confirm whether the dog is actually suffering from demodicosis, one should take it for a clinical test. Skin scraping is the only real clinical test possible to determine this disease. It is the only tool available to a vet for identifying the problem. However it is sometimes misleading, since they just might miss the trouble makers who inhabit the deep pores or hair follicles of the host. So the vets also need to know about the hereditary as well as the health history of the dog, before arriving at a conclusion.
The first priority should be to get rid of the overpopulation of the mite that led to this infection. The best way is to wash or bathe your pet with benzoyl peroxide shampoo at least twice a week. And this should be followed by the application of Amitraz or Mite Avenge. It should be applied deeply so that it reaches every corner and pore of the skin, and the mites can be efficiently eradicated.
This treatment should be conducted at least 12 to 14 times, before one can go for the scraping test again. By this time the dog’s skin should be back to normal, i.e. no bad odor, skin flaking, irritation etc. If the dog has reached this stage then it is advised that you give her a benzoyl peroxide bath once a week for the next 4 weeks.