Beating demodex: From mangy mutt to healthy hound - Dr. Marty Becker


Beating demodex: From mangy mutt to healthy hound

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Can a mangy mutt turn into a healthy, happy pet? With love and veterinary care, you bet!

That’s what happened to Boone, a dog with severe demodetic mange fostered and then adopted by my dear friend, Kate Turner. I gave her a hand with the veterinary care, but the love was all hers.

Demodectic mange is caused by a microscopic mite that is always present on dog’s skin, but can produce mild or serious disease when allowed to grow unchecked. That can happen because the dog has an abnormal or weakened immune system. A high incidence in pit bull-type dogs suggests some dogs may have an inherited immune susceptibility.

The condition leads to the characteristic “mangy” appearance, patches of hair loss that can be localized or cover large areas of the body. The hair follicles become plugged with mites and skin scales, and the skin breaks down to form sores, crusts and draining tracts which can be debilitating.

Usually, a veterinary hospital will do a skin scrape to confirm diagnosis. I usually show the live mites to the pet owner under the microscope, and they invariably get really creeped out watching this real-life horror movie, with millions of monsters just under their pet’s skin.

Almost bald and with oozing, crusty skin, there are few dogs who look worse on the outside. But when treated, these dogs can make a transformation from ugly caterpillar to beautiful butterfly, just like Boone did.


If you think your dog might have mange, please see your veterinarian right away!