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All these names apply to the same disease, which is caused by an abnormal proliferation of one type of mites, the “Demodex canis”. These mites are always present in the skin of all animals (us included) in a certain controlled number but at times, due to a defective immune system, the numbers increase and cause skin problems.
Certain breeds of dogs appear to be predisposed to Demodectic mange, probably due to hereditability. Bullmastiffs do not seem to be particularly affected and are not included in the lists but my experience as a Breeder tells me that there are some specific families affected and in fact I have heard mention to some cases of Red mange in certain bloodlines at times.
The mites are usually acquired during the first two-three days of life, while the puppies are nursed by their mothers, and they can be transmitted by the dam or by littermates during this period. All dogs carry mites, like I’ve said before in a certain number, but not all will develop the condition for which it is suspected that when it appears it is due to an impairment of the immune system.
When the mange is localised in certain small areas of the skin and does not extend through all the body, it is known to spontaneously cure in a very high percentage (90%) of the cases; yet generalized Demodicosis will often require a very specific long-term treatment.
This can also be considered as a stress-related disease, for which many dogs will show the symptoms when they are under certain stressful circumstances (females in heat or pregnant, male dogs that are around females in season, environmental changes, other diseases and whatever situations that cause a weakness in the immune system).
The symptoms vary from dog to dog, but in general terms when the mites crowd out the hairs within the hair follicles, they eventually destroy these follicles, causing a sudden release of the hair in the affected area (as sudden as in just a few hours!) with the immediate and fast proliferation of bacteria and mites into the dermis, which causes infection with associated skin redness (inflammation) and more hair loss.
Diagnosis is possible by performing a squeezing of the skin to express the mites from the follicles, followed by a scrape of its surface. The sample obtained is applied to a microscope slide. The Vet will count how many mites are present in each sample (eggs, nymphas and adults) and will take further samples every 7 to 15 days on a regular basis for several weeks, to check upon the evolution and results of the treatment with special insecticides.
The owner must be aware of the importance of continuing the treatment and persevering for several weeks (even months), because if the treatment is discontinued too early it will only make things worst. Yet it is important to keep in mind that the killing of the mites and the restoring of a perfectly healthy and good looking skin and hair will stop the apparent condition, but will not cure the underlying cause – the weakness of the immune system. Therefore it is important to discuss with the Specialist what else needs to be done in order to avoid recurrence of the disease.
(Original text written by Christina of Lima-Netto and Federico Baudin specifically for this web page and protected with Copyright. Not even whole can be reproduced not partially by any way, without Castro-Castalia's express assent in writing)
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