What can I do About Intractable Puppy Mange?

I have an eight-month-old Boxer and since she's been about two months, she's had severe recurring mange. It's a cycle: she starts losing fur, we...


I have an eight-month-old Boxer and since she’s been
about two months, she’s had severe recurring mange.
It’s a cycle: she starts losing fur, we take her
in, get her diagnosed, she gets a mange bath,
antibiotics, she takes the meds for three weeks and is
fine! Her fur grows back, the meds stop then
another two or three weeks will go by and she gets it
again! We feed her high quality food, exercise her
regularly and keep her kennel very clean. Any
suggestions on how I can help take care of this
myself? The vet bills are mounting!

Moreno Valley, CA

I am sorry to hear that you and your dog are going through such a frustrating ordeal. Based on your description of the problem and your dog’s age, it sounds like your dog is suffering from infestation with Demodex, also known as puppy mange.

Demodex is ubiquitous. It is a type of mite that is present in the hair follicles of virtually every dog. Most dogs suppress the mite with their immune systems. However, some dogs’ immune systems can’t keep the parasite completely under control. This happens most often in dogs less than 18 months of age–hence the name puppy mange.

In these dogs, hair may fall out in small patches, or it may fall out over large portions of the body. In either case, the problem can be persistent and frustrating.

The good news is that the vast majority of dogs outgrow the problem by the time they are two years old. The syndrome resolves as the immune system matures.

If your dog is losing only small amounts of hair and her skin is comfortable, you may not need to treat her at all. Many people simply monitor the spots and wait for the problem to resolve.

However, if your dog is losing large amounts of hair, she needs to be treated to prevent skin infections and secondary problems. Your best bet will be to have regular mange baths performed for a period of at least six to eight weeks. The most effective form of mange bath can only be performed at a veterinarian’s office, because the active ingredient in the shampoo is potentially toxic. I realize that this option is expensive, but in the long run you will save money if you tackle the problem aggressively.

Either way, take heart in one fact: your dog will almost certainly outgrow this problem eventually.

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