A Complete Guide to Mange in Dogs

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We’ve all seen the stories. Neglected or abandoned dogs turn up with hairless, skin covered in sores that have hard, crusty patches.

Under the right care, they then go on to make a seemingly miraculous recovery with coats that look bright and healthy again in next to no time.

The likelihood is these dogs were suffering from a painful condition called Mange. It’s more common than you might think but, more often than not, responsible owners seek help from a vet and nip it in the bud.

Find out about the most common types of Mange as we look at their symptoms and the available treatments.

What Is Demodectic Mange?

Mange is a skin disease caused by mites. There are 2 main types of this condition in dogs: Demodectic Mange, the most common form in dogs, and Sarcoptic Mange – each caused by different mites.

Parasitic mites (Demodex canis and Demodex ingai) cause Demodectic Mange, also known as red mange because of the color it turns the infected skin.

Shaped like cigars with 8 legs, these microscopic mites live in the hair follicles of dogs. This kind of mange gets transmitted between a mother and puppy during the feeding process.

All normal dogs, and many humans too, will have a few of these mites on their skin. Provided the body’s immune system is working well, the mites will cause no harm. Demodectic Mange tends to affect young dogs with immature immune systems. In these cases, the number of mites increases very quickly.

Symptoms of Demodectic Mange

Demodectic Mange can take three forms in dogs:

Localized: you’ll see scaly bald patches that can form on the dog’s face. Common in puppies, you should consult your vet who’ll let you know what treatment, if any, is most appropriate.

Generalized: you’ll see more areas of your dog’s body affected by patchy skin. Secondary infections can make these itchy and cause your dog to smell. Most common in dogs under 18 months old, it acts as a sign that there may be an immune defect. In around 50 percent of these cases, the dog’s immunity will recover enough to fight off the parasites.

Demodectic Pododermatitis: this is when the condition only affects the paws. It can be difficult to treat and diagnose. Bacterial infections tend to develop with this condition and the infection will often run deep through the tissue. You may notice your dog constantly licking their paws if they have this condition.

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Treatment for Demodectic Mange

Your vet will typically prescribe a topical medication for the localized form. The generalized type of Demodectic Mange will need more aggressive treatment. That may mean you have to administer a combination of oral and topical medications.

Treatment for Demodectic Mange has traditionally relied on the use of specialist shampoos. However, these can contain strong insecticides. New safer treatments that you can give your pet orally are now available.

In some cases, secondary skin infections complicate the condition. This may mean your dog will need antibiotics or shampoo therapy. Consult your vet and let them decide on the best course of treatment.

Prevention of Demodectic Mange

Ensuring your dog is in the best possible health will reduce the chances of them developing Demodectic Mange. It will boost their immune systems and give them the best chance of suppressing the parasites.

Stress can have an impact on immunity, as can hormonal changes. Neutering will therefore help as will ensuring that your dog’s worming and flea treatments are up to date.

What is Sarcoptic Mange?

A circular-shaped, 8-legged mite called Sarcoptes scabiei causes this disease. Also known as canine scabies, this type of mange is highly contagious. Female mites burrow into the skin and lay their eggs. The eggs hatch in around 3 weeks with the new mites feeding on the affected dog’s skin.

Less common than Demodectic Mange, scabies in dogs typically affects stray or neglected animals as well as those with compromised immune systems. When untreated, it can spread quickly.

Symptoms tend to appear around 1-10 weeks after contact with a dog carrying scabies. The first signs of the infection are likely to be on the edges of the ears, chest, and elbows. Symptoms can include:

  • Extreme itchiness, redness, and a rash
  • Loss of hair and thick yellow crusty patches of skin
  • Emaciation in very extreme cases

Diagnosing and Treating Sarcoptic Mange

Your vet will take a skin sample which they’ll examine under a microscope checking for eggs or mites. Sometimes, they may not be able to spot them but suspect Sarcoptic Mange and therefore advise on a course of treatment.

This type of Mange is relatively easy to treat with the right anti-mite medication. Always follow the directions your vet gives you and complete the treatment. You may also need to treat other pets in the household.

Your vet may prescribe steroids too, in cream or tablet form, to reduce the inflammation on the skin. They may recommend antibiotics to treat any secondary infections. With treatment, dogs will normally be clear of the disease within a month.

Is Mange Contagious to Other Dogs or Humans?

Demodectic Mange is not contagious from dog to dog or to humans. Its presence does not require environmental cleaning.

Conversely, Sarcoptic Mange is highly contagious among dogs.The parasite can also pass to humans, although it doesn’t thrive on non-canine hosts so any infection will not last long.

What is the Prognosis For a Dog With Mange?

Most dogs with Mange can expect a full recovery with the right treatment. The reason for chronic cases is typically an underlying systemic illness or secondary infection. Mange can be fatal when dogs get the wrong therapy or when their underlying medical conditions do not get managed correctly.

When to Contact a Vet

If you have concerns your dog may be developing Mange, it’s best to contact a vet straight away. The sooner your vet can make a diagnosis and prescribe the best course of treatment the better.

We have a team of highly skilled and experienced vets available to help. Get in touch with us today and book your slot now.

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