Demodex mites cause demodicosis, or mange, an inflammatory skin disease affecting dogs and cats, according to PetMD. In dogs, mothers can transmit Demodex canis mites to their offspring when nursing. There are two other types of demodex mites that affect dogs, but the means of transmission is unclear, as of 2015. Mange in cats is rare, but Demodex gatoi mites cause mange and are contagious between cats in proximity, and Demodex cati can infect cats with compromised immune systems.
Mange can occur in one location or affect the animal’s entire body, explains PetMD. Localized outbreaks occur more often on the face, trunk and legs, and tend to be less severe. Generalized mange can occur anywhere on the body, and its symptoms include inflammation, scales, lesions and rashes.
Veterinarians use skin scrapings and hair samples to diagnose mange, states PetMD. After treating the disease, the veterinarian may prescribe routine follow-up tests to check for the reappearance of mites. The veterinarian may also test for other conditions, such as metabolic disorders or bacterial infections, which present similar symptoms.
Localized mange typically heals on its own within six to eight weeks, according to Dermatology for Animals. Treatments for persistent mange include treating any underlying diseases affecting the immune system; daily oral medication, such as ivermectin and milbemycin; and weekly chemical dips.