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Demodex & Demodetic Mange:

Mange is a parasitic skin disease caused by microscopic mites. Two different mange mites cause skin disease in dogs. One lives just under the surface of the skin ,while the other resides in the hair follicles. Although both mites share some similar characteristics, there are also important differences. It is important not to confuse the two types of mange because they have different causes, treatments, and prognoses.

Demodectic mange, sometimes just called "demodex", is the most common form of mange in dogs. It is caused by the demodectic mange mite, a parasite which lives in the hair follicles of affected dogs. Under the microscope, this mite appears shaped like an alligator with 8 legs. All dogs (and many humans) have a few of these mites on their skin. As long as the body's immune system is functioning, these mites cause no harm.

Demodectic mange most often occurs when a dog has an immature immune system, allowing the mites to grow rapidly. Therefore, this disease occurs primarily in dogs less than 12-18 months of age. In most cases, as a dog matures, the immune system also matures. Adult dogs which have the disease usually have defective immune systems. Since the mite is found on virtually all dogs, exposure of a normal dog to one with demodectic mange is not dangerous.

Development of the immune system is under genetic control. Thus, an affected dog usually comes from a litter containing other affected puppies. Owners of litter mates should be put on the alert to watch for it. Because the disease, or more appropriately, the weak immune system, can be due to a hereditary properties...affected dogs (case-by-case) should usually not be bred. Also, parents of the affected dog should be evaluated for the possibilty of them producing a hereditarily weak immune system, and then owners and their vets need to determine whether that dog should be bred ever again. In most cases, those dogs should not be bred.

Surprisingly, a dog with demodectic mange does not itch severely, even though it loses hair in patches. Areas of bare skin will be seen. The hair loss usually begins on the face, especially around the eyes. When there are only a few patches of hair loss, it is termed localized demodectic mange. If the disease spreads to many areas of the skin, it becomes generalized demodectic mange.

The small, localized form is usually treated with topical medication. The generalized form is usually INEFFECTIVELY treated with shampoo therapy and a special "dip". The best and most effective way to treat this is a oral dose of a chemical called "Ivermectin." This chemical, typically used in cattle and swine to treat several types of worms and mites also serves as probably the best solution to the Demodetic problem. Many Vets don't know about this solution and if they do, Aren't allowed to use it. In our extensive experience...this is the best solution for an immune system that cannot fight off Demo. *You should always allow a growing dog ample time to develop their immune system before you use a toxic chemical such as Ivermectin. If they can fight it, you know you will have a healthy dog with strong immunities. It also works well against Heart Worm infection. Shampooing with special cleansing shampoos helps to flush out the hair follicles as well.

For dogs with generalized demodectic mange, secondary skin infections may represent a complicating factor requiring antibiotic therapy. Dogs with skin infections have very red, inflamed skin. This is the source of the term "red mange."

Treatment of the localized form is generally successful. Treatment of the generalized form is also usually successful. However, if the immune system is defective, neither the mites nor the infection may respond to treatment.

Because the immune system does not mature until 12-18 months of age, a dog with demodectic mange may have relapses until that age. It is important for re-treatment to begin promptly to minimize the possibility of developing uncontrollable problems . Demodectic mange may also occur in very old dogs because function of the immune system often declines with age. Dogs who have immune suppression due to illness or medication are also candidates for demodectic mange.


Coccidiosis:

Intestinal coccidiosis is caused by infection with any one of the coccidia species: Isospora, Besnoitia, Hammondia, Sarcocystis, Toxoplasma, or Cryptosporidium.  Infection with Isospora is most common in dogs. Coccidia are single celled organisms that infect the intestine. They are microscopic parasites detectable on routine fecal tests in the same way that worms are but coccidia are not worms and they are not visible to the naked eye. Infection occurs when infective eggs are ingested from a contaminated environment, or an infected transport host is ingested.  Rodents and other small prey can carry coccidia, making ingestion of their tissues and feces infective.  Infection with coccidia can also occur when uncooked meat from infected herbivores such as cows or sheep is ingested.  After ingestion of ocysts, the incubation period is usually 6 to 10 days.

Oocysts (pronounced o'o-sists), are passed in stool. In the outside world, the oocysts begin to mature or “sporulate.” After they have adequately matured, they become infective to any host (dog or cat) that accidentally swallows them. To be more precise, coccidia come from fecal-contaminated ground. They are swallowed when a pet grooms/licks the dirt off itself. In some cases, sporulated oocysts are swallowed by mice and the host is infected when it eats the mouse. Coccidia infection is especially common in young animals housed in groups (in shelters, rescue areas, kennels, etc.) This is a common parasite and is not necessarily a sign of poor husbandry.

The presence of coccidia in the feces of dogs is fairly common.  Up to 72% of dogs may have some level of infection with coccidia.  Multiple dog homes are most prone to infection.  The major sign of coccidiosis is diarrhea which is soft or watery, and may contain mucus, blood, and shreds of intestinal epithelium.  Vomiting, dehydration, loss of appetite, weight loss, decreased activity level, and seizures (in advanced stages) are other signs associated with coccidia. Brain damage can result, as well as temporary deafness and blindness.   Diarrhea is typically most severe in puppies under 4 months of age.  Adult dogs may harbor coccidia with few clinical signs, but serve as a source of infection to puppies.  Diagnosis is made by microscopically identifying oocysts in feces.

Strict sanitation is important for prevention of infection.  All cages and kennel runs should be cleaned with steam or a strong sodium hydroxide solution to kill oocysts.  Prompt removal of feces helps reduce exposure to infective feces. Elimination of rodents and rodent feces will reduce coccidia in the environment.  Any meat that is fed should be thoroughly cooked.  Older dogs that may be asymptomatic carriers should be kept separate from young puppies.

puppies showing clinical signs of coccidiosis should be treated orally with sulfadimethoxine (Albon or Bactrovet) at 25 to 30 mg/lb body weight per day for 10 days.  Amprolium (Corid) is not approved for use in dogs, but has been used effectively in kennel operations.  One-quarter teaspoon of 20% powder per four puppies is mixed with the puppy food for 10 days, or 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of 9.6% amprolium solution can be mixed with one gallon of free-choice water.  With severe cases of coccidiosis, secondary intestinal bacterial infections are common, and treatment may need to be prolonged.

While there are species of coccidia that can infect people (Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium, for example), the Isospora species of dogs and cats are not infective to people. Other pets may become infected from exposure to infected fecal matter but it is important to note that this is usually an infection of the young (i.e. the immature immune system tends to let the coccidia infection reach large numbers where the mature immune system probably will not.) In most cases, the infected new puppy or kitten does not infect the resident adult animal.

"An Old Pit Bull dog Thinks of Death"

When they ask you, if I died well,

Tell them then, the Bulldog's tale;

A tale of courage, dogs bred bold,

A tale of my kind, centuries old.

My blood comes from ancient age;

Was valued more than kings or sage,

Sires and dams of courage rare -

Who took on all who thought to dare.

In my blood flows images of ancient kin,

Of silent stone circles, of small dark men,

I see a savage beast in the flickering light

that those before me stood there to fight.

Rough British bulls go through my sleep,

I hold them fast with courage deep;

I hold them fast for my master's blow

With pride-I hold their noses low.

Before that even we held the boar,

From those rough dogs comes my core.

We've hunted, guarded, protected and fought-

We've done whatever man has taught.

So never think I would forsake these things

When soon my spirit takes to wings

And when they ask you how I died,

Say, "As a Bulldog- with courage and pride."

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