Mites – attack the skin

Mites can cause great damage on or in the skin of dogs and cats.

Bonn. Often it is the very small creatures that cause massive discomfort to the large animals. These pests also include mites. Grass mites or ear mites are among the comparatively more harmless representatives of these arachnids. However, the Demodex canis mite can be extremely unpleasant in dogs. The demodicosis caused by its infestation is one of the ten most common skin diseases in dogs.

The cigar-shaped mites are located deep in the skin in the hair follicles. That's why they are also called hair follicle mites. The infection usually occurs immediately after birth and almost exclusively from the nursing bitch to the puppies. The first symptoms of the disease are hair loss and skin changes in the area of ​​the upper lip, eyelids, bridge of the nose, forehead and ears, i.e. in areas that are in close physical contact with the mother when nursing. Hair loss is particularly typical in the eye area, where a “glasses”-shaped hair loss occurs. From there, the disease can spread to the entire body. Demodicosis is primarily a disease of young dogs. It usually occurs up to 18 months of age. There are hereditary predispositions, so certain breeds may be more affected.

Older dogs are rarely affected, but the clinical picture can be more serious than in young dogs. If only a few mites can be found in the skin, they can have little harm to a healthy dog, because demodicosis is a factor disease. If another factor comes into play, such as a weakened immune system, the mites can suddenly multiply. In the areas where the Demodex mites weaken the skin, there is a high risk of bacterial infections with deep-penetrating skin inflammation and ulcer formation, which can even become chronic. The skin changes color in the affected areas, which is why this chronic form of skin disease is also known as “red mange”.

Demodex mites rely on dogs and cats as hosts, so demodicosis poses no risk of zoonosis. This means it cannot be transmitted to humans.

Medicinal treatment of demodicosis is possible, but it is very lengthy and only after a detailed diagnosis by the veterinarian.

Further background information here