Neville is a 5 month old German Shepherd mix breed puppy with a real zest for life! He presented to our hospital months ago for his puppy boosters and was reportedly scratching himself for what seemed to his parents to be an excessive amount of time. They had tried moisturizing shampoos and a better quality diet which seemed to improve this for him so no further investigation was made at that time.
Fast forward 2 months later and Neville continues to itch and scratch and his coat is now brittle and patchy, especially on his legs and face. Skin scrapings were taken to look for a type of skin mite known as Demodex. The scrapings are made in a few areas of the body, allowing us to count numbers of mites and identify if the mites are thriving (juvenile and adult mites) and if they are reproducing (discovery of eggs).
Demodex mites are very common, humans even have their own species of these little critters living in their eyelashes and eyebrows. Normally there are a few mites found on the skin of healthy dogs, but in young puppies their immune system sometimes cannot keep up with the mites and they grow and multiply excessively in the hair follicles producing the itch and hair loss.
We were able to start treatment to eliminate the excessive number of mites from Neville’s skin, and his parents report he is much more comfortable and no longer constantly itchy. After a few months of treatment his hair coat will return to normal, and he can go on learning and growing and being a puppy.
Dr. Charlotte Sir