Many of us are familiar with stories of dogs that have been neglected or abandoned. We often see these in the news or in movies, but what we don’t always realize is that one of the most common signs of neglect or abandonment for a dog is mange. Mange is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful skin condition caused by mites that can be difficult to manage, so it's important to know how to treat it properly if you ever encounter it.
Contrary to popular belief, mange does not only happen to neglected or abandoned dogs. In fact, skin infections like this can affect any canine, and the severity of the condition will vary depending on the breed and age of the dog. In animals with a weakened immune system, mange can be especially difficult to manage.
In this article, we describe two causes of mange, symptoms, causes, and prevention measures so that pet owners can better understand and address this common condition in their furry companions.
What is Mange?
Mange is a skin condition caused by microscopic mites that can cause severe skin irritation and itching, hair loss, and secondary infections. In dogs, it’s most commonly seen in the form of scabies or demodectic mange. There are two types of mites that can cause mange:
This type of mange is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, and it’s highly contagious. Sarcoptic mites are typically found in ears, elbows, and around the eyes. Female mites burrow into the skin and lay eggs, which hatch within a few days. The adult mites then move on to new locations, leaving behind their larvae. This results in the spread of the infection across the body.
Is Sarcoptic Mange Contagious?
Yes, this type of parasitic mite can be easily transmitted from animals, including to humans. They are primarily found on foxes and are a significant cause of domestic dog infestation. Adult dogs can develop a mild, pruritic dermatitis called scabies.
Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange
The symptoms of sarcoptic mange can vary from mild to severe. These include
- extreme itchiness
- hair loss
- scabs and crusting on the skin
- scaly skin around the ears, eyes, elbows, chest and other areas of the body
Is Sarcoptic Mange Contagious?
Yes, this type of skin disease is highly contagious. It can be spread from animal to animal through direct contact, but it can also be spread by contact with bedding or other objects that have been contaminated with the mites.
Demodectic mange is caused by the Demodex canis mite and is usually less severe than sarcoptic mange. Demodectic mange is also called demodicosis, red mange, or puppy mange. The demodex mites live in the hair follicles and are normally harmless except in puppies and frail, elderly dogs with weakened immune systems.
It is most often seen in puppies and young dogs, but it can also affect adult dogs with weakened immune systems. The mites cause localized patches of skin inflammation that can be red and inflamed, as well as scaly and hairless. Secondary bacterial infections may be present as a result of the intense itching associated with demodectic mange.
Forms of Demodectic Mange
Demodicosis is the most common form of this skin disease and it typically affects young dogs. It usually shows up as patches of hair loss on the face, legs, or other areas of the body.
This form of demodectic mange is less common and more severe. It usually affects adult dogs with weakened immune systems, and it can cause more widespread hair loss on the head, neck, body, legs, and feet.
In this form of demodectic mange, the mites invade the paw pads and cause severe inflammation. It is most common in dogs with underlying immune system issues. Dogs with this condition may experience significant pain and swelling in the affected area.
Symptoms of Demodectic Mange
The symptoms of demodectic mange may include:
- patchy hair loss
- reddened skin
- scabbing and crusting
- inflammatory lesions
Is Demodectic Mange Contagious?
Demodectic mange is not contagious and can't be transferred from animal to animal. The mites are passed from a mother dog to her puppies, but will only cause an infection in puppies and dogs with weakened immune systems. The presence of demodectic mange on one dog does not pose a threat to the health of another dog, as the development of mange requires a weakened immune system. It should be noted that the mite responsible for demodectic mange is present on most dogs, so it's not a sign of an unhealthy pet.
Some breeds are more likely to develop mange than others. Breeds such as Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, German Shepherds and Bulldogs are more prone to mange due to their genetic predisposition. It is also important to note that certain environmental factors can trigger the development of mange, such as exposure to extreme temperatures.
What Causes Mange in Dogs?
Mange in dogs is typically caused by mites that have been contracted from other animals like from stray dogs or another dog carrying scabies mites or from contact with an animal infected with demodectic mange. Stress, poor nutrition, compromised immune systems, hormonal imbalances and other health issues can make a dog more susceptible to developing mange and other secondary skin infections. Mange mites can be transmitted through direct contact, or indirectly through objects such as dog's bedding and toys.
It's important to note that while these mites can be transmitted between animals, they cannot survive for long on humans. If you suspect your dog has mange, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
How to Treat Mange in Dogs
Mange is a skin condition that can be difficult and time consuming to treat, but it’s important that you stick with the recommended mange treatment plan for optimal results. Treatment typically includes oral or topical medication, medicated baths, and other treatments to help soothe the skin and kill any mites present on the dog's body.
Your veterinarian may also prescribe oral or injectable medications that can help reduce inflammation, control itching, and prevent secondary infections. Additionally, there are several over-the-counter products available that may help treat the condition, including natural remedies that can be used in conjunction with traditional treatments.
It is important to note that while mange is not a life-threatening condition, it can cause severe discomfort for your dog and will require proper treatment and follow up care to ensure the best outcome. A veterinarian should always be consulted for any skin condition, as there are several different types of mange mites capable of causing similar symptoms. With the right treatment plan, you can get your dog back to good health in no time!
Follow Up Care for Treating Mange in Dogs
After your dog has completed their initial course of treatment for mange, it's essential to provide them with adequate follow up care to ensure the condition doesn't return. This may include regular medicated baths, topical treatments, and monitoring for any signs of recurrence.
If you notice any itching or hair loss in your dog after they've completed their treatment, contact your veterinarian immediately for further evaluation.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your pup throughout their recovery process can help support their immune system and prevent future mange flare-ups.
Tips to Prevent Mange in Dogs
Here are some tips to prevent mange in your dog:
Regularly bathe and groom your pup.
Your dog should be bathed at least once a month with a medicated shampoo specifically designed to kill mites. Additionally, regular brushing and combing can help reduce the risk of infestation by removing any eggs that may be present in your pet's fur.
Ensure your pup is eating a balanced diet.
Maintaining good nutrition with high quality food is essential for keeping your dog's immune system strong and healthy. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian about a diet that meets all of your pup's nutritional needs.
Keep your pup away from other animals.
If possible, try to avoid contact between your pup and other animals, especially those that may be infected with mange mites like stray dogs or wild animals.
Schedule regular veterinary checkups to keep their skin in optimal health.
Your veterinarian can help you determine the best course of action for preventing mange and other skin infections in your pup. Regular checkups, especially during times when your pet's risk is highest, are essential to ensure their long-term health and wellbeing.
Use anti-parasitic solutions as needed.
Your veterinarian may recommend using anti-parasitic sprays or other solutions to reduce the risk of mange in your pup. Utilizing these products regularly can help protect your pet and keep them comfortable while preventing any further complications from occurring.
Mange may be an unpleasant condition for both you and your dog, but with the right treatment plan, it can be effectively managed. By understanding what causes mange, providing proper care throughout your furry friend’s recovery, and monitoring them closely afterward, you can help ensure that your pup stays happy and healthy for years to come!