Demodicosis can be localized, meaning that the condition is found on only one area of the dog's body, or it can be generalized, spreading over the entire body. Localized demodicosis is the most common form, and it often clears up on its own in a few months (although it can wax and wane over time). Signs include thinning hair that progresses to one-inch (2.5 centimeter), patchy hair loss, generally on the face or the front legs. The skin can become red and scaly. Generalized demodicosis has similar signs, but they're widespread and more severe. The skin can break down and become infected, with painful, draining sores. There's also a form of demodicosis called demodicoditic pododermatitis. It solely affects the dog's feet and can be very resistant to treatment.
To treat localized demodicosis, your veterinarian will likely prescribe an ointment that contains benzoyl peroxide, which you will need to massage daily into the affected areas. Generalized demodicosis requires more intensive treatment. This includes shaving the dog, using a medicated shampoo containing benzoyl peroxide to bathe him and dipping him using a miticide. The medicated shampooing and dipping will likely have to be repeated once or twice a week for up to a few months, with follow-up skin scrapings to determine if the demodicosis is gone. It's important to get your dog diagnosed properly and carefully follow the treatment plan prescribed for him rather than trying to treat demodicosis on your own. The dip can have some nasty side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and lethargy. If your dog has a bad reaction, rinse it off of him immediately and call your vet. Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics to clear up bacterial infections.
In about half of puppies diagnosed with localized demodicosis, the condition goes away on its own. This doesn't happen in older dogs, however, or in dogs with generalized demodicosis or demodicoditic pododermatitis. Many dogs need long-term, intensive treatment, and curing demodicosis can be difficult. To help prevent mange, regularly bath and brush your dog. Washing his bedding once he has been diagnosed will also help with the condition.
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