Demodex is a parasitic mite that causes a skin disease often referred to as mange or canine demodicosis. The microscopic Demodex mites live in the hair follicles and oil glands of your dog’s (or cat's) skin or at the skin surface.
Many animals have natural mite populations; however, most healthy animals are able to suppress the populations from becoming problematic. Usually, animals that are going to be affected by Demodex show signs of mange early in life. Occasionally, an animal will develop demodectic mange as an adult; however, this usually means that the animal has another medical condition that is compromising the immune system.
Demodex mites create patches of hair loss as a result of mild irritation and itching, usually starting on the muzzle and head and progressing toward the rear. The disease can be limited to a small area of infestation (localized), which most often occurs in young dogs, or more widespread (generalized) infestations.
Diagnosis of Demodex mites is made through skin scrapings of the affected areas. Localized infestations can easily be treated, and most are resolved with no treatment. Generalized infestations of Demodex can be more challenging to treat.
First and foremost, maintaining your dog’s overall health is critical to creating immunity to mite infestations. A good diet and clean environment can greatly reduce the opportunity for your dog to develop a mite infestation.
Consult your veterinarian for additional prevention strategies and treatment options.
Demodex from dogs poses no risk to humans.