Which Pets are Most at Risk for Mange (Demodex)?
Dogs are more likely to have mange (demodex) infections than are cats. Puppies and young dogs are more prone to demodex than adult dogs, but healthy puppies generally clear the infection within a few weeks. Puppies and adult dogs that are stressed or physically ill are prone to develop demodex infections. Among the stressors that suppress the immune system so that dogs develop mange are:
Dog Breeds Prone to Mange Infections
Certain dog breeds develop mange (demodex) infections more often than other breeds. This includes purebred and mixed-bred dogs with these genetics. For example, dogs with Bulldog genetics are predisposed to demodex. These include the Boxer, American Staffordshire Terrier or Pit Bull, English Bulldog, and Boston Terrier. Other breeds predisposed to develop demodex include: Afghan Hound, Beagle, Chihuahua, Chow Chow, Collie, Dachshund, Dalmatian, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Old English Sheep Dog, Pointer, Pug, Shar Pei, and Shih-Tzu.
Cat Breeds Prone to Mange Infections
Cats rarely develop mange (demodex) infections unless seriously ill with a disease such as feline leukemia or diabetes. Two cat breeds and crosses of those breeds appear most prone to demodex infections: Siamese and Burmese.
Generally, the tendency to develop mange (demodex) is inherited, so dogs and cats that develop mange should not be bred. The parents, siblings, and offspring of pets with demodex should not be bred either. Occasional exceptions are made to this caveat for pets with normal immune systems that develop mange infections because they are taking high doses of steroids.
Pets with Poorly Functioning Immune Systems
Mange infections are often accompanied by other infections because demodex occurs in pets with poorly functioning immune systems. This occurs for two reasons:
- Usually pets with already weak immune systems develop mange infections. These pets often have a genetic weakness in the group of white blood cells called T-cells. This is inherited and these pets can pass the tendency to develop mange infection to their offspring.
- A mange infection itself is able to suppress your pet's immune system. The more mites your pet has, the more severely the immune system is suppressed.
Pets taking steroid medications are inclined to develop mange infections because steroids also suppress the immune system.