The canine follicle mite

Cross section of follicle mites on a dog

Fig. 77. One of the charactaristics of the follicle mite is that its tail is faced toward the skin surface. Section through a hair follicle of a dog with many follicle mites. (Neumann)

All dogs follicle mites of the species Demodex canis. They are transmitted from the nipples of the mother dog during the first 2-3 days after the puppies are born. Most dogs are never troubled by the mites, which are only present in small numbers.

Demodicosis, also called demodectic mange or red mange. Some dogs have problems with too many follicle mites. The disease, Demodicosis, is mostly common with young dogs (3-12 months) and is mostly seen in Boston terriers, boxers, Dobermans, Scottish terriers, German shepherds and collies. In mild cases the disease are visible by round, bald patches on the head and the front legs. In serious cases, all of the skin is infected, and hairless, thickened skin areas are found on the head, legs and paws around the tail and head. The dog can then suffer from fever, weariness and lack of appetite.

Reasons. Demodectic mange occurs because the dog’s immune system is unable to keep the mites under control due to some kind of immunodeficiency. This immunodeficiency is inherited, but exactly how is not known. Some healthy parents can produce litter after litter with the immunodeficiency. The solution is to exclude these dogs from breeding as soon as it is discovered.

In older dogs can Demodectic mange are non-hereditary and can be caused by tumors and diseases of the liver or the endocrine systems.
Diagnosis. It is not enough to simply look at the dog. It must be proven that there are too many mites. This is the veterinarian’s job. A hairless, shaved, small piece of skin is lightly anesthetized and the veterinarian scrapes off a sample, which is then microscoped.

Treatment. Although the mites can be a symptom of something else being wrong, it will still help the dog’s general condition if they are eradicated. Ask your veterinarian for advice on which pesticides to use.