Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue

Harlequin Haven
Great Dane Rescue

11567 St. Rt. 774
Bethel, Ohio 45106

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Demodectic Mange

There are two different manges that affect dogs. They are sarcoptic mange or scabies and demodectic mange, often known as demodex.  Both diseases are caused by mites, tiny eight legged organisms that burrow into and live in the layers of the skin.

Demodectic Mange is a much more serious disease then sarcoptic mange. It is difficult to treat successfully and the secondary bacterial infections, often staphylococcus, are very debilitating on the general health of the affected animal. This mite lives its entire life cycle deep within the host's skin, right down with the oil glands of the skin. It is not easily transmitted from dog to dog, except by direct and constant contact. It is unlikely to infect humans.

The condition is diagnosed by finding the mites or their nymphs in deep skin scrapings. It is easily differentiated from sarcoptic mange because it does not cause itching. There are two forms of the disease, known as squamous and pustular. In the squamous form, there is hair loss around the eyes, or muzzle, hocks, elbows, feet and neck. There is usually a scaly skin with a light grey greasy feel. The condition may remain at this stage for a number of years. If the animal is stressed, the condition will worsen - the hair loss will become generalized, the skin will thicken and the greasiness will increase.  In the pustular form, the skin is thickened, wrinkled and inflamed. Pustules are present and may become abscesses, or pus may under run the skin. There may be irritation when this occurs. There is nearly always bacterial invasion in this form of the disease.

Demodex may be treated with oral flea preventatives, used at the rate for flea control. These preparations should not be used on young puppies except under strict veterinary supervision. These drugs often take many weeks to express the damage they may cause the central nervous system, which may appear from any signs of vitamin deficiencies to wobblers disease and even skeletal abnormalities.  If the disease is the pustular form, concurrent treatment with antibiotics to which the secondary infections are susceptible are essential.

Demodectic mange treatment is also helped by increasing the general health of the dog with food supplements such as cod liver oil, yeast, kelp, vitamin C, and ensuring that the diet is rich in digestible protein, and has some simple carbohydrates in it. Increasing the dog's general health will help towards healing the affected areas and improve the resistance to re-infection or to building up of a residual infection not removed with the initial treatment.

Bitches that have demodectic mange, or those that have never coated up completely after treatment for demodectic mange, should not be used for breeding. Puppies develop demodectic mange in the nest through constant contact with their mother, if she is infected.

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