Diesel’s Demodectic Dilemma

Mange is a common complaint we see here at Mansion Hill. What most people don’t know is that it comes in two flavours; sarcoptic (or fox) mange which is similar to scabies, and demodectic mange. Both are caused by mites and are unpleasant, but one can be a killer!

Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabei, and is relatively easy to cure with prescription parasite control such as Advocate.

Demodectic mange is caused by Demodex canis, and is far more serious. It used to be thought that it was passed from mother to pup, but increasingly it seems that there is a genetic predisposition- many dogs can carry demodex mites with no ill effects. Demodex can be localised or generalised, and can kill if left untreated.

Diesel came to us in May 2011 as a second opinion. He had been diagnosed with generalised demodectic mange, but standard treatment had failed:

He’s a lovely dog, but the first time we saw him he was utterly miserable, and very painful.

Unfortunately his skin was so sore that the first line of treatment – bathing with Aludex – was too painful, so we decided to stop the baths, and start him on a medication that is only licensed for cattle, sheep and pigs- ivermectin. No other licensed drug that was efficacious enough was available, and he was fading fast. After carefully outlining and weighing up the possible risks with his owners, the injection was mixed with some rather nice olive oil and given orally with his food on a daily basis. We also started him on low dose steroids to control the inflammation, and treated the skin infection with antibiotics.

After two weeks he looked like this:

At this point we stopped his antibiotics, and halved the dose of steroids.

After six weeks he looked like this:

All his medications except his ivermectin was stopped. Two days ago he looked like this:

We’re all so delighted to see him doing so well! He’s now a healthy, happy (and boisterous!) Staffie who loves to play with his sister. Diesel will never be cured, and will need to take some type of anti-demodex medication for the rest of his life, but luckily this should be infrequent and he should suffer no ill effects. Well done Diesel and well done to his mum and dad who’ve fought so hard to get his treatment right!