Demodex, or demodectic mange is a form of mite that live typically in the hair follicles of canines. It is most common in dogs with lower immune systems, very young, or elderly canines or canines with immune altering diseases. Early signs of Demodex show usually around eyes, mouth and forepaws. It can include redness, scaling and hair loss. In more severe cases it can result in major hair loss.
How does a dog get Demodex?
Typically, all dogs have demodectic mange mites. However, a strong immune system keeps them in check and in doing so, the dog does not display symptoms. However, when the immune system is compromised, the mites get the upper hand and "mange" becomes evident. When a skin scraping is looked at under a microscope, there must be a certain number of mites seen to be considered "mange".
In newborn puppies, these mites spread from contact with mom through skin to skin or fur to fur contact. Puppies can contract the mange from their mother through snuggling or nursing. These mites are not transmitted or shared through various animals or people. They are typically "host adapted" (Wikipedia) tells us they stay within their specific animal type, dogs can only contract Demodex canis, and cats can only contract the feline mange mite etc. (no need to worry about catching these from your pup!)
How can Demodex be treated?
Since Demodex tends to show more in dogs with depleted immune systems, it stands to reason that boosting the immune system is the first step to avoid and even conquer demodex. An easy way to lift the immune function is to make sure your dog gets plenty of meat protein, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Limit intake of grains and carbs. (These tend to feed the natural yeast in the body and lead to an overgrowth, which can be a nasty problem in itself to get rid of.) Click Here to learn about ways to fight a yeast infection.
Meats such as raw or lightly boiled chicken, ground beef, and canned mackerel or salmon are great for protein. Salmon and mackerel are high in Omega 3's and 6's and are great for replenishing the natural oils in the skin and coat. Here is a great recipe for an easy raw diet that can help build your pup's immune system without putting a strain on your budget: Homemade Dog Food!
Last but not least, adding required nutrients to raise and build up immune function is the best way to combat mange or yeast in the body.
Helping your dog to become the happy pup he was meant to be is a process and won't happen overnight. Give the digestive tract and the immune system time to get strong, which will happen FIRST, well before you will see these changes on the outside. Be patient, persistent and consistent. It will be worth it!