Dr. Christoph HoptnerDr. Christoph Hoptner (Univ. Milan) is a specialist veterinarian for small animals and has been running his small animal practice in Mulheim an der Ruhr since 2002. He studied veterinary medicine at the University of Milan, worked as an assistant in Zurich, Trier, Minden and Duisburg and, after further proof of his achievements, successfully completed his examination to become a specialist veterinarian. The veterinarian loves what he does and says: "My profession is my vocation!"
Small animal practice Dr. (Univ. Milan) Christoph Hoptner
Demodicosis in Doberman Aaron
Canine demodicosis is a common skin condition caused by the excessive proliferation of the hair follicle mite"Demodex Canis" caused, parasitic skin disease of dogs. It can occur locally or all over the body. Demodicosis develops in animals only in connection with disorders of the immune system – in young animals, the development of the disease has not yet been fully elucidated. The causative agent of demodicosis lives and multiplies as an obligate parasite in the hair follicles and sebaceous glands. The mite is part of the skin ecosystem in mammals and, in small numbers, behaves like a commensal (a creature that feeds on the food residues of a host organism). It is not uncommon to find them even in tie samples from healthy animals, especially in the face.
The demodicosis of the dog – also called "red mange" called – is a relatively common dermatological disease in veterinary medicine, which can develop into a serious problem if not treated and cared for adequately. The disease usually begins with hair loss accompanied by itching, so that the animal begins to scratch itself. In the further course, a secondary bacterial infection can develop more severe skin changes up to a purulent skin inflammation (pyoderma)
Aaron's medical history
Aaron, according to the breeder, was born on 27.08.16 was born in Spain, but according to his vaccination certificate, he was supposedly vaccinated as early as 15.08.Vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, and leptospirosis in 2016, which is when he was not even born yet. Thus, it was obvious that the previous life history of this dog was very problematic. The animal also had its tail and ears docked, d.h. the Doberman's ears and tail were surgically shortened, which was prohibited by § 6, para.1 of the animal protection law is forbidden in Germany.
But already after six weeks the young Doberman began to show first signs of an incipient skin disease. Aaron began to itch to varying degrees on different parts of his body. His vision became cloudy and Aaron initially showed altered skin areas in the facial area around the eyes and the bridge of the nose. Within a few days, however, bald patches appeared all over his head. His initial playfulness diminished, the young male became more and more asleep and withdrawn.
Due to a then performed microscopic examination (deep skin scrapings) a diagnosis could be made. Aaron had a demodicosis with a secondary, accompanying bacterial infection of the skin. Demodicosis in dogs (also called "red mange") is a relatively common disease in veterinary medicine in dogs (rarely in cats) caused by the mite Demodex. The mite lives and reproduces as an obligate parasite in the hair follicles and sebaceous glands and can also be found in healthy animals.
Transmission occurs in the first days of life through a diseased or asymptomatic mother dog. Puppies are usually infected with the mites in the first 72 hours after birth, probably during suckling. The onset of the disease is caused by genetic predisposition (pronounced susceptibility) or a weak immune system allows. Both are true in Aaron's case.
According to the textbooks, generalized demodicosis can be treated in different ways. One of the advised treatment options is with ivermectin 0.2-0.6 mg /kg p.o. – every 24 hours – advised. The cure rate at an ivermectin dose of 0.6 mg/kg/day is between 85 and 90%. However, this procedure is not recommended for all breeds of dogs and is not allowed for small animals. Supportive weekly bathing with 2.5- 5% benzoyl peroxide shampoo is recommended, followed by a whole body application of a 0.03-0.05% amitraz solution. The cure rate is between 50-86 %. We treated the secondary pyoderma (bacterial skin disease) in Aaron's case by means of a long-term systemic antibiotic administration.
Within a very short time Aaron developed terrible looking skin lesions all over his body. In the meantime, this was no longer a localized demodicosis, which was limited to up to five body regions. The dog had a generalized form of demodicosis developed a disease that took over the entire body. The disease took a dramatic and life-threatening course when it was aggravated by the fact that Aaron, due to his completely weakened immune system, also repeatedly became severely ill with alternating stomach and intestinal diseases. Consequently, he had to be treated not only for demodicosis and bacterial skin diseases, but also for various gastrointestinal diseases. A very well-considered medication and careful weighing regarding the course of action, required a very well-balanced sensitive and yet target-oriented dosage of the medication.
24 hours observation
These additional diseases occurred with almost certainty, because Aaron was highly immunosuppressed due to his previous history of suffering and life – his physical and mental overload. This means, Aaron could unfortunately never build up a normal defense system in his body to be able to defend himself. In this acute phase, the Doberman was immediately admitted to the practice as an inpatient, in order to be able to react quickly to possibly life-threatening sudden toxic complications, Aaron stood permanently under 24 hours Observation and control.
Aaron's skin situation and his overall health improved almost completely within a few weeks. Recurrences can occur and may require periodic or lifelong therapy in some dogs. To date, however, Aaron has recovered well, and we hope that together we can keep his immune system growing stronger so that he can live a long and healthy life.