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Not All Mites Are Created Equal
Demodicosis is a condition that occurs when the normally self-limiting population of demodex
mites on a dog goes rogue. They are microscopic parasitic mites that inhabit hair follicles, oil
glands, and skin. Demodex mites are non-contagious, host-specific, and are a normal skin
inhabitant of dogs. Demodex mites are NOT Sarcoptes mites (which cause very itchy and
contagious sarcoptic mange).
Dogs of any age can have demodicosis. Young dogs most often get a transient overgrowth of
mites that is localized to a few spots on the face or legs (see below: localized demodicosis). With
a healthy immune response, the majority of these cases will resolve without treatment.
Occasionally demodicosis completely takes the skin of its host hostage (see below: generalized
demodicosis); it spreads to encompass very large areas of skin resulting in massive hair loss
and other complications. This form of demodicosis occurs sporadically in young dogs but
accounts for the majority of the adult cases of demodicosis. The demodex life cycle is completed
on the dog host. Dogs are infected with mites from their mother while nursing during the first
week of life and will have mites throughout their lifetime (in low numbers). Read More >