If you have encountered stray dogs or dogs who have been neglected/abused, you have most likely seen mange. In fact, you’ve probably seen photos of dogs with extreme cases of mange when dog rescue organizations post photos of some dogs in their sorry state upon rescue - often hairless, with sores all over, and with thick, crusty, and scabby skin patches.
- Sarcoptic Mange vs. Demodectic Mange
- Causes of Sarcoptic Mange
- Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange
- Causes of Demodectic Mange
- Symptoms of Demodectic Mange
- Treating Mange in Dogs
- Mange Prevention
- Emergency Fund
Mange is an extremely irritating and painful condition for dogs, and it can lead to serious complications if not treated. Fortunately, like what we see in successful rescue stories where dogs are saved and given the love and care that they most truly deserve, even extreme cases of mange can be effectively treated. But what exactly is mange and how does it affect dogs?
Mange can be defined as a skin condition caused by mites. Derived from the French term mangeue which means “to eat or itch”, there are several mites that may cause mange, and it can affect many animals including dogs.
How to know if there are mange mites on dogs? When it comes to dogs, in particular, they are affected by two types of mange namely: Sarcoptic mange & Demodectic mange.
Sarcoptic Mange vs. Demodectic Mange
According to research, this type of mange (also known as scabies) is caused by the tiny, spider-like mite called Sarcoptes scabei. Known to be very contagious, this parasite can be transmitted between dogs. And while humans can catch it from dogs too, it doesn’t thrive as it does on canines.
What happens is that the female mites burrow themselves into the host’s skin where they then lay their eggs. The hatching of the eggs happens in around 3 weeks, and the young mites then feed on the skin of their host.
Among the two types of mange in dogs, sarcoptic is the most common and is highly contagious as well.
Also known as Demodex or red mange, this mite that is shaped like a cigar is caused by the Demodex Canis mite. While sarcoptic mange is usually transmitted from dog to dog, the Demodex Canis mites are already present in the skin of most dogs in small numbers and are normally harmless.
These parasites are passed on by their mothers just a few days after the pups are born and they aren’t contagious to humans and other animals. In dogs with a normal immune system, the quantity of the mites is controlled and they usually stay deep in the hair follicles without causing harm.
However, in dogs with weakened immune systems, the growth of the mites may become uncontrollable.
Causes of Sarcoptic Mange
Sarcoptic mange can be transmitted upon having direct contact with an animal or human that has been infected. The tiny mites need to feed on a host to survive, and cannot live outside a host for long periods.
The transmission of scabies often happens when there is close contact with an infected dog. More often than not, these mites can be found in areas where infected dogs often go to. Such places may include dog parks, doggie daycare centers, or breeding facilities.
While bad hygiene isn’t a cause of sarcoptic mange, it may contribute to a weakened immune system that may. Dogs with a weakened or compromised immune system, or those who have underlying health conditions may be more susceptible to getting infected by mange.
Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange
After contact with an infected dog, symptoms usually appear between ten days to eight weeks. The beginning signs of infection may be found on a dog’s ear margins, elbows, chest, stomach, and hocks. If it’s left untreated, the infection may spread fast. Among the common symptoms are:
- Redness and rashes;
- Extreme itchiness;
- Loss of hair;
- Thick and yellow crusts;
- Bacteria/yeast infections;
- Thickened skin (advanced infection);
- Inflammation of the lymph node (advanced infection);
- Emaciation (severe infection).
Causes of Demodectic Mange
As mentioned above, it’s normal for dogs to have small quantities of Demodex. However, it may cause a problem when the numbers increase due to a compromised immune system. Those who are at a higher risk of being infected with the demodectic mange are:
Puppies who develop a weak immune system upon birth are more susceptible to juvenile-onset, which is a more serious kind of Demodex.
Healthy puppies may also develop Demodex in certain areas of their skin. This may go away without treatment, or in some cases, may be remedied using topical treatment methods.
Senior dogs, those with illnesses, as well as neglected/abused/stray dogs that may have compromised immune systems are more likely to get infected with Demodex mange. Examples of diseases that may affect the function of the immune system which may lead to this type of mange are diabetes and cancer.
Symptoms of Demodectic Mange
Signs of localized cases of demodectic mange include:
- Hair loss patches;
- Red/scaly skin.
Meanwhile, generalized cases show signs of:
- Redness of the whole body;
- Swelling/scaling/crusts in the skin;
- Extreme hair loss.
Treating Mange in Dogs
Both types of mange in dogs will need to be treated to help the skin heal as well as be able to control or eliminate the mites. Others may be tempted to self-treat. However, it is important to seek the advice of your vet to know the best treatment options for your dog. Below are some of the common treatment options for both scabies and Demodex mites in dogs:
- Hair clipping;
- Medicated Baths - a weekly treatment of bathing your dog with a medicated shampoo may help cleanse, heal, and soften their skin;
- Elimination / Control of Mites - topical treatments such as selamectin or imidacloprid-moxidectin may be prescribed in order to eliminate the mites. Usually, these are applied for several weeks. Sometimes, oral medications may also be prescribed.
Note that it is also important to address the weakened immune system, any underlying conditions, or any other secondary skin issues along with the above treatments for better chances of recovery.
The key to preventing mange in your dog is to keep their immune system strong by ways such as providing them with a healthy diet, physical and mental stimulation, a healthy environment, and making sure that they feel loved and cared for.
This is because a healthy immune system will lessen the chances of them developing mange since the body has the ability to suppress the parasites.
Things that may also affect your dog’s immunity include hormonal changes and stress, so spaying/neutering may also help. Make sure that your dog’s deworming and flea treatments are up to date as well to help prevent them from catching the infection.
In extreme cases such as when your dog needs to be rushed to the vet due to severe mange, it would help to be assured of the vet expenses as well as the support needed to take care of your dog. Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund offers 24/7 online vet help while securing you with a plan that covers $3000, which can be used for vet emergencies of up to 6 pets.
Moreover, both dogs and cats are covered regardless of their age, breed, or medical history. The service also gives direct payment to the vet on the same day of the emergency, so you won’t need to worry about claims. With all its benefits, this Pet Emergency Fund is the best alternative you can get to pet insurance.
Can mild sarcoptic mange in dogs go away on its own?
Sarcoptic mange does not go away on its own and would need to be treated. If you suspect your dog of having sarcoptic mange, have them checked with your vet as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the infection and treat the disease once diagnosed.
How to treat mange in dogs at home?
What are some home remedies for mange in dogs? Once your dog is diagnosed with mange, you may consult with your vet regarding some home remedies to help treat the condition. Among the possible remedies are:
- Brushing your dog’s fur to help remove the scabs and scaly skin;
- Adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food;
- Washing your dog with warm water with soap;
- Regularly clean your dog’s bedding.
Read more: How To Get Your Dog To Enjoy Bath Time
Remember to consult with your veterinarian first before giving any home remedy. Do also note that the home remedies above only target the mange mites on the surface of your dog’s skin. Meanwhile, if the mange is severe, your vet will most likely prescribe your dog several medications.
Can mange shampoo for dogs help?
Nowadays, there are a variety of medicated dog shampoos that may help reduce or eliminate mange-causing mites. However, it is important to seek the advice of your vet first before trying out such shampoos. If you are unsure, you may bring your dog to the vet so they can be given weekly dips for a period of time that your vet may deem necessary.
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