Demodex - Getting worse before it gets better

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Demodex - Getting worse before it gets better

This is a discussion on Demodex - Getting worse before it gets better within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; My male GSD may have demodex. It is a rather long story, he has allergies (currently working through that), we have been to the vet ...

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Old 05-27-2018, 11:49 AM
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Demodex - Getting worse before it gets better

My male GSD may have demodex. It is a rather long story, he has allergies (currently working through that), we have been to the vet (so many times) and we were there last weekend and through a long conversation and problem solving we came up with a theory that we may have given him demodex. Yes, we broke my dog! We did not do a skin scraping because (a) she is trying to save me some money, (b) he is going on the medication for ticks anyway, which also treats these mites, and (c) a lot of the balding spots are very close to his eyes and she doesn't want to scrape that close to his eyes unless we absolutely have to. We are treating with the tick medication and waiting to see what happens.

I am happy to provide all the information on that below but I don't want to muddy the conversation on that.

We are treating with Simparica which does treat demodectic mites. I have read a lot of things about the possibility of it getting worse before it gets better, and holy crap is it ever! He started on the Simparica last weekend and seemed initially a bit better after a couple of days but by Friday his skin was red and he was SUPER itchy. The vet has put him on antibiotics as a prophylactic measure (we picked it up yesterday).

Has your dog ever had demodex?
Did it get worse before it got better?
I have read about this die off effect but there seems to be little information on it. The idea is that the mites are actually in the hair follicle and when they die off they stay there and decay - not like fleas that just simply fall off the body. This mass death can cause an initial flare up and make the symptoms worse. However, I can find nothing on how long this die-off effect can last.

So if your dog had demodex, and it got worse before it got better - how long did that 'get worse' stage last?

He is breaking my heart. And, we can't get to the bottom of his allergies until we clear up the demodex.
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Old 05-27-2018, 03:55 PM
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I haven't had a puppy or dog that suffered from Demodex, but my neighbor did. Her puppy apparently had it when she adopted her. I remember noting the hair loss around the ears and asking her about it, she said it was allergies. I thought no, it's probably mange, but thinking that a vet had told her allergies I kept my mouth shut. Next time I saw the pup the hair loss had spread to around the eyes, and the ears were worse. I'm thinking it's definitely mange but she didn't ask me my opinion. The pup continued to lose hair and she finally took her to the vet and yep, demodex mange (I hate being right!), treatment was started and that pup started looking like a stuffed animal where most of the fluff has been worn off. I think that stage lasted around 2 weeks to a month or so then her coat started growing back in, and a couple months later you'd never know that she had ever had mange. She's now a cute, beautiful, little dog.

Your boy will get there! Just think that now treatment is started so the worse if behind y'all and it'll start to get better.
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Old 05-27-2018, 05:28 PM
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Thank you, that helps a bit. I just need the intense itching to stop. I suffer from chronic hives so I have very intimate knowledge of exactly how he feels and it breaks my heart. He just looks so miserable.

He definitely has allergies, we just aren't sure what the allergies are yet.

We did all the things you are supposed to do. We tried limited ingredient food and the novel protein foods. Then we put him on Apoquel to get him some relief from the itching while the food changes took effect. The novel protein food didn't work so we tried the veterinary hypoallergenic food and he started to get worse so we tried to prescription hydrolyzed protein diet and he got much worse. In desperation I switched him to raw food because I am out of any other options. He got about 50% better on the raw but then held there. It had been 6 weeks as of our visit to the vet last week.

I love my vet because she really listens to me and respects my opinion, and my vet loves a good puzzle and we certainly have one here. As we were talking everything through I asked her if it could possibly be demodectic mange. She said yes, but then we needed to worry about what allowed a 4 year old dog to develop this, what was happening with his immune system. The more we talked the more the pieces fell into place.

Apoquel is an immune suppressant. We put him on the Apoquel to give him some relief but he was on Simparica last year (which also kills the demodectic mites). We are in Canada so tick season is over in November and he came off the Simparica - which was right around the same time as we started him on the vet food and he got so much worse.

Our current thinking is that the Apoquel suppressed his immune system and when he came off the Simparica the mites took hold. So we are off the Apoquel and back on the Simparica. He is still not as itchy now, off the Apoquel and on the raw food, as he was on the Apoquel and on the vet food so I think we are getting somewhere.

Taking him off the Apoquel has obviously made him more itchy but it got so much worse on Friday, I am hoping that means the mites and dying their angry little death. He actually seems better today than he was yesterday.

He may still have an immune system problem, or maybe the allergies were just overwhelming his immune system and allowed the mites to take hold. We can cross that bridge later. One thing at a time. First the mites, then the allergies. He goes for a wellness check and we will run bloodwork in the fall.

His raw food (we are using a premade raw) is costing me about $8 a day because he can't be on any of the cheaper proteins (like chicken). The antibiotic he started on yesterday is $6 a day. So $14 a day - he still won't sleep with me. What a jerk

He has rubbed off all the fur around his eyes (I assumed that was the allergies) and his mouth, and then it is his left ear, a big spot on his left side and on the bony spot on his left hind leg. I feel like a bad doggy mom for not realizing it was mange before, but he was too old for that to be our first though.
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