Can a Dog Survive Demodex Mites?

Veterinarians often determine cases of demodectic mites via skin scraping.
Veterinarians often determine cases of demodectic mites via skin scraping. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Demodectic mange mites are extremely prevalent in the canine world. Demodectic mange refers to a skin condition that is triggered by tiny mites of the genus Demodex, namely Demodex canis. These external parasites exist on practically all canines, and even on lots of humans, too -- often without stirring up problems.

Demodectic Mange Basics

If a dog's immune system is in good working order, the presence of demodectic mites isn't usually a problem. Transmission of these mites occurs when pooches are puppies, as their mama dogs huddle up against their neonatal bodies, touching their skin. Demodectic mange is not thought to be a contagious ailment. The majority of canines who contract it have problems with their immune systems, or their immune systems simply aren't fully developed yet. Immune systems in optimal condition are capable of managing the numbers of these mites that are there. A lot of preexisting illnesses can compromise dogs' immune systems, with examples such as underactive thyroid, heartworm and Cushing's disease, for starters.

Signs of the Condition

If a dog's body hosts excessive numbers of demodectic mange mites because of his immune system, he might start to experience noticeable symptoms. Localized cases of demodectic mites usually involve inconspicuous patches of missing fur. Generalized cases, however, are a bit more severe, often with exhaustion and drastic areas of missing fur. If generalized demodectic mange triggers infection, dogs also often develop fevers.

Yes to Survival

Veterinary attention is important for any pooch dealing with a noticeable case of demodectic mange mites. Veterinary management generally involves topical medicines, including dips and shampoos. Dogs with the generalized type of demodectic mange also sometimes call for oral medicine. Dogs can indeed survive outbreaks of pesky demodectic mites, even in extreme cases. Most canines bounce back fine. Note, too, that as indicated previously, the majority of dogs have minimal demodectic mites without even noticing it, living happy and fulfilling canine lives.


If your furry cutie is in fine fettle, the chances of demodectic mange infestations passing onto him are low, even if he has a few of the mites already. Despite that, you can never be too cautious regarding your sweet pet's well-being. If you know any dog with a major case of this skin disorder, you might want to keep him away from your pet, simply to err on the side of caution.

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