Last July, our beloved dog, Diego, became inflicted with a skin disease which turned out to be Demodex Mange. It went undiagnosed for nearly a month and we feared we'd lose our sweet pal. I have long planned to blog about this journey because I was unable to find any first accounts online that gave me hope. So in honor of National Pet Day today, here now is Diego's story.
I found Diego, a red toy pomeranian, running in the streets in 2008 and being a pommie mommy, I screeched my car to a halt and took off after him. He came to me immediately, and I took him home confident that we'd find his family in a matter of hours or days.
With no collar or chip, we went to work advertising that we'd found him on the internet, with signs in the surrounding neighborhoods, at local businesses and I called all local vets, shelters and groomers. After 3 weeks, we concluded his family was not going to be found and he was now part ours.
During July 4th weekend last year, my husband and I noticed some small scab like bumps on his skin. We were not sure what it could be and decided to keep an eye on him for a while. I figured maybe it was related to the heat and since he seemed completely unbothered by them, I was not worried.
After a week, the bumps were spreading and so I took him to a vet near my office, who took samples to be diagnosed. She prescribed some antiobiotics and we were to wait for results.
Come August I was told they were still waiting for cultures to grow for conclusive information, but by now Diego was showing signs of distress. One Saturday I thought he wanted to crawl out of his skin. I went to the pet store to try to find topical ointments to ease his discomfort. DO NOT DO THIS. The ointments kept his skin from breathing and only made it worse.
As soon as I could, I brought Diego to our personal vet and they were extremely worried. I could see the concern in their eyes and I felt like the worst pet mom ever. I was so scared that my actions were going to have fatal consequences.
We began a regimen of medicated baths 3 times a week, antibiotics, immune boosting supplements and wishful thinking. Within a few days we got our diagnosis: Demodex Mange. Not fatal and also not contageous, which was good news for our other dog Tiki and us. Diego was put on Ivermectin daily and antibiotics twice daily.
Now that I knew what we were dealing with I went online to learn more about what to expect, but I didn't find much. I now understand that all dogs have these mites in their hair folicles, however they don't manifest into this skin disease unless there is an immune dificiency of some kind. Diego was about 12 years old when he got mange, which is not common as it typically happend in puppies.
Diego lost all his fur from the neck back, and his skin was black and covered in open sores. When we would bathe him, we had to be extra gentle as he always bled.
The good news is that within 2 weeks we saw great results. His skin was healing! After a month we saw hair growing back and his skin was becoming almost normal.
By November, Diego had a full coat and was back to being himself. To be sure he was healed, we needed to have his skin checked for parasites. After 3 consecutive tries (one a month between December and February) there were still mites present and we concluded that our little guy was going to have to stay on Ivermectin indefinitely, however we lowered his dose to every other day.
I am thrilled to say that Diego is amazing, healthy and totally back to his old self now. I know the experience has taken a toll on him, as he's slowed a bit, but after all he is about 13 years old now.
If your dog shows signs of scabs or sores on his skin, RUN DON'T WALK to your vet and if necessary ask about Demodex Mange. I hope Diego's story helps spare other dogs the discomfort he experienced and the expenses incurred by our not finding out sooner what was happening.
I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the entire staff of for caring for Diego (and us) and helping bring him back from mange. They have been amazingly comforting and their actions and concerns made all the difference.