Is Puppy Mange Life Threatening?
photo 2009 Andrew Magill | more info (via: Wylio)
Would you consider localized Demodex as a life threatening or severely debilitating congenital defect? I have a puppy owner who thinks it is, I do not, but I am not an expert.
Demodex, also known as puppy mange, almost never is life threatening. The localized form is especially harmless.
Demodex is an ubiquitous organism that lives in the skin of virtually every dog. Most puppies catch Demodex from their mothers.
Healthy adult dogs with mature immune systems almost never show any symptoms of demodicosis (infestation with Demodex). However, the organism can cause hair loss or other skin irregularities in animals whose immune systems aren't mature -- which is why the syndrome is called puppy mange. The syndrome occurs most frequently between adolescence and full maturity (generally between 6 - 24 months of age).
Demodicosis comes in two varieties. In the localized form, small patches of hair fall out. Almost all dogs with localized demodicosis recover completely without any treatment, although resolution can take a few months.
Dogs with generalized demodicosis lose hair over large portions of their bodies. Secondary skin infections may occur. Generalized demodicosis usually requires treatment with anti-parasitic medications (such as ivermectin or milbemycin) or special baths. Many dogs with generalized demodicosis also require antibiotics for skin infections.
No matter how you look at it, demodicosis is not generally an indication of an unhealthy animal, any more than acne is a sign of an unhealthy teenager. Demodicosis is most common in dogs that are equivalent to teenagers. And, like acne, demodicosis usually resolves with maturity. Fortunately, dogs don't generally suffer self esteem issues as a result of their skin problems.
Photo: No sign of demodicosis. Yet.