Demodicosis is an infection of Demodex mites, one of a few that cause mange or scabies. These skin mites can be normal for your furry friends, but they can also be associated with hair loss or alopecia. Your puppy is more likely to have demodicosis than your healthy adult canine.
Demodex is not considered contagious; puppies tend to inherit them from mom. As a population of mites grows larger, your puppy’s hair follicles, where the mites hang out, may get inflamed, and his hair may fall out. Alopecia is generally localized to the face -- where mom inadvertently transfers the mites as the puppy nurses -- although the hair loss can occur anywhere.
Signs of Infection
Localized infections are associated with hair loss, scaly skin, redness or dark pigmentation. Generalized demodicosis is classified as multiple lesions, often considered patchy hair loss. The skin may be scaly, and the lesions may become crusted or thickened. Secondary bacterial infections can occur, which may cause intense itching.
- Companion Animal Parasite Council: Demodex (Mange Mite)
- Small Animal Dermatology; Linda Medleau and Keith A. Hnilica
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.