is a 7-month-old pug living in Durham, N.C. He is the
pride of his caretakers, Mattie and Greg, and has been
with them since he was 7 weeks old. He is fully
vaccinated, on heartworm prevention medication and is
fed strictly Science Diet Maintenance dog food. He has
been neutered. His daily routine includes a 3-mile walk
through his neighborhood and time in a local dog park.
It is these trips to the dog park that Greg and Mattie
think might be responsible for a skin problem he is
the last couple of weeks, Hadley has developed areas of
hair loss over much of his body. Mattie states the spots
are mostly roundish in shape with virtually no hair and
flaking skin. Most recently he has begun to scratch some
of the spots as well. Greg and Mattie are convinced
Hadley picked up something from his dog park adventures.
skin of dogs has a finite amount of manifestations to a
myriad insults. In other words, it is most often not
possible to diagnose the underlying cause of a skin
problem simply by looking. There are cases of course
that are obvious, fleas for example come to mind, but in
Hadley’s case, diagnostics are in order.
suspicion is that Hadley is dealing with a case of
Demodectic mange. To diagnose this disease, we commonly
use a skin scraping technique followed by a microscopic
exam of the material scraped from the skin. If I am
correct, the microscopic study will reveal the presence
of one or many cigar shaped mites with stubby legs, six
mites burrow into the victim’s hair follicles and set
up in households where they breed and can spread. The
hair shafts fall out, hence the hair loss being
described with Hadley. Demodectic mange is not always
itchy though the generalized form, where much of the
skin of the patient is involved, can cause pruritis.
interesting note about Demodex is that these mites are
considered a normal inhabitant of a dog’s skin. They
can be found in small numbers on virtually any dog
without incident. It is theorized that a dog’s immune
system keeps the Demodex population in check. In fact it
is very rare to see a case of Demodectic mange in an
adult dog unless there is some compromise to the dog’s
occurs far more commonly in younger dogs as their immune
systems develop. It is usually self-limiting, in other
words, it does not spread and is contained by the immune
system and eradicated as an apparent skin problem. These
dogs will show a spot or two of hair loss often around
the face and ears.
treatment is sometimes used to aid in treatment and
these cases almost always resolve. Generalized
Demodectic mange however needs more aggressive therapy.
If I am correct with Hadley’s diagnosis, he has the
generalized form of this disease. Incidentally, Demodex
is not considered a communicable disease so Hadley would
not have contracted the disease from hanging with his
bros in the dog park.
the interest of hedging I must admit that I may be wrong
in my suspicion that Hadley has generalized Demodectic
mange. He could have ringworm, a type of fungal disease
or, as I stated above at the beginning of our
discussion, a myriad other possible causes.
thing is for sure in my mind, it does not appear likely
Hadley’s skin issues will resolve on their own. He
needs a trip to his veterinarian.