Demodex is a skin parasite that can be found in dogs and cats. A large majority of pets have issues with Demodex at an early age up to 1 year old. We see it often in Staffordshire terriers although it can affect any breed.

How do I know that my pet has got it?

Most pets will develop a bald spot that is not very itchy, hence can be often misdiagnosed as ringworm. However, once it got infected, your pet can start scratching, making the problem worse. Some pets can develop more severe forms of the disease that involve the whole body. The parasite is very small and lives in hair follicles so it cannot be seen by the naked eye.

How do they get it and is it transmissible?

Current literature states that Demodex mange is a genetic problem that transmitted from the parents to their offspring. There is no evidence that it can be transferred from one pet to another, nor to humans.

How is it diagnosed?

Once we suspect that your pet could have this parasite, deep skin scrapings are taken and examined under the microscope. The parasite is easy to see as a “cigar shaped” mite that moves on the slide. Sometimes it is necessary to take multiple samples to diagnose it because some dogs can have a low number of parasites. Most dogs and cats will tolerate the skin scraping well but some have to be sedated for the procedure.

Although it is genetic is it treatable?

Once diagnosed, Demodex mange can be treated successfully. There are many treatments available. Weekly injections, top spots, washes and oral medications have been used successfully to combat the parasite. In order to make sure your pet is getting better, revisits are needed and skin scrapings must be repeated to make sure the parasite is gone. Otherwise, if the treatment is not completed, the mange will be back.