Wednesday, June 24, 2009


So many of you have read Brinkley’s story on our Available Dogs Page and have helped us continue the treatment he needed for a full recovery. We thank you so much for your generous contributions to help this precious boy.

I thought it would be appropriate therefore to provide a little background on demodex mange. This information is for informal purposes only and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any animal.

Like it or not, mange comes from microscopic mites living on your puppy or dog as the host! I’ll spare you the million times magnified picture, but trust me; they are mean looking little devils. Also like it or not, almost all puppies and dogs have these little critters residing under their skin. Mites are passed from mother to puppy the first couple days of life through normal cuddling. In most cases, the mites cause no issues to either dog or puppy and everyone lives happily ever after. When something happens that compromises the puppy’s immune system like an illness, stress, neglect, less than sanitary conditions, etc., those nasty mites seize the opportunity to take control. This causes the mites to multiply too fast and to embed in the hair follicles and the result is hair loss and other side effects. It is important to note that sometimes the cause of the mite revolution is not clear or known. You can do everything right with your new addition, and mange still develops. Demodex manage is not considered contagious.

Some puppies are fortunate in that they only get localized demodex mange. This is usually no more than 3 places on the body (including face and feet) where there is visible hair loss. These cases often go away on their own and do not always require medical attention.

Our little Brinkley unfortunately had localized demodex mange and therefore no hair anywhere when he came into rescue. To further complicate the situation, the compromised immune system made worse by the mange made him more susceptible to illness and he caught pneumonia!

Demodex manage can be treated with powerful medicine or with dips. The medicine, called Ivermectin is usually faster but requires careful monitoring by the human involved. Too high a dose can cause some severe side effects. Some dogs such as collies cannot tolerate Ivermectin so the dips are the only choice for their treatment. The medicine is expensive and doesn’t taste very good either!

Once tolerance is established, a vet will usually start at a low dose and slowly increase to the full safe dose. Dosage is based in part on body weight and of course puppies are ever changing their body weight so this must be considered as well. A puppy can be on this medication for months or weeks depending on the severity of the mange, their overall general health and the number of active mites attacking the hair follicles. Eventually the goal is for the hair to grow back and the active mites to no longer show on a slide from skin scraping.

Brinkley has now recovered from a serious case of pneumonia and now has soft baby peach fur all over his adorable little body. His personality is blooming and he now wants to win the biggest prize of all – a forever home to call his own! He has proven himself to be quite the survivor. Maybe he is the match for you.


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