Dear Daisy Dog
One week ago, Emma, a nine-week-old Labrador retriever, joined our family. She has small bald spots on her face, and they’re getting bigger.
They aren’t red or itchy. What is causing them?
One possibility is the Demodex mite, which causes demodicosis, also known as demodectic mange.
These microscopic, cigar-shaped mites are perfectly designed to live in hair follicles, where they are normal inhabitants.
Generally they cause no problems, but in youngsters with slightly weak immune systems, the mites proliferate and cause the hair to fall out.
Most pups respond to a product from the veterinarian that flushes out the hair follicles. Their immune systems strengthen within a few months, and the bald spots disappear.
But a small percentage of puppies develop generalized demodicosis, which may affect – you guessed it – the entire body.
The Demodex mite isn’t contagious to other pets or humans, unlike the Sarcoptes mite which causes scabies (sarcoptic mange), characterized by severe itchiness with hair loss.
Another cause of patchy hair loss is ringworm, a fungal infection that is transmissible to other pets and humans – so it’s time for a visit to Emma’s veterinarian to identify the culprit and start treatment.