Mange in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Mange is a severe skin disease that can plague a number of animals, including dogs. Parasitic mites, known as Sarcoptes scabiei, burrow themselves into the skin of mammals. Other types of mites even live deep within the hair follicles. A dog will scratch and itch at these mites, often resulting in hair loss and scabs.
What Symptoms are Common?
The most common symptoms of mange include itching and scratching. This is due to the dog attempting to remove the mites from its body so it no longer feels them biting and burrowing.
Due to the intensity of the scratching, the skin is often rubbed raw, resulting in exposed skin and rashes. Scabs and crust may form over the skin as it works to heal and return to normal. Many times, dogs continue to scratch, making the scabs fall and form over and over.
Bumps and redness may also be visible in many areas where these mites are present.
Are There Uncommon Symptoms?
If mange is left untreated, dogs will scratch themselves so badly that their hair will begin to fall out. This hair loss often continues over the entire body, leaving the dog hairless and exposed to the environment. This can cause other issues to develop.
Issues within the immune system may also develop, causing illness. It may take longer for the dog’s skin to heal if this is the case. Mites can multiply rapidly when the immune system is compromised. This can lead to further problems for a dog.
What Causes Mange in Dogs?
The main cause of mange is mites. These mites find themselves a home within a dog’s skin, feeding off of him. The mites can easily jump from one dog to another, meaning exposure to other dogs with the disease may be a cause for some.
Is Mange Contagious?
Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious. This disease is also referred to as scabies. The mites can easily move from one dog to another when the two come in close contact with each other. That is why it is important to watch for signs of mange at animal shelters and kennels where numerous dogs are present.
Dogs that frequent parks, the groomer’s, and even the vet should be checked regularly to ensure the problem did not spread from another animal.
Female dogs who have mange can easily pass it on to their puppies. Pregnant dogs should be checked for mites before they give birth for this reason.
Mange can affect humans, dogs, horses, pigs, sheep, and most other types of mammals.
Another cause of mange is when a dog’s immune system is weak, and already-present skin mites multiply. This form is less serious, but can still be a cause for concern. An overpopulation of these mites on a dog’s skin are not contagious to others.
What is the Diagnosis?
A physical inspection is required in order to diagnose mange in dogs. The veterinarian needs to be sure there are in fact mites living among the dog’s skin and fur, and not another microorganism. Chiggers disease, bacterial infections, and food allergies all need to be ruled out first, as these may exhibit some of the same symptoms as mange.
A skin scraping can be performed to determine if mites are present, and how many. The scraping should be done deep enough so mites burrowed deeply are found. If no mites are found during the scraping, but lesions are still present, then treatment should still commence.
What is the Prognosis?
The prognosis for dogs with mange is good. With proper treatment, mange can be fully treated. It is not often life threatening. It is a major discomfort to dogs, but can be treated with proper care.
How is Mange Treated?
Veterinarians prescribe a drug known as scabicide to remove the mites from a dog. The dog may need to be fully submerged in the scabicide treatment in order for all mites to be killed.
This treatment typically requires a few tries before all mites on the body are killed off, as well as all remaining eggs removed. It can take up to six total treatments before the procedure is completely effective in eliminating all of them.
Some mites are resistant to certain forms of scabicide. That is why numerous options are available. Doramectin, Lime sulfur, Selamectin, and Ivermectin are all dip treatments that may be tried.
Certain collars have also been created to help reduce the possibility of mange. These collars contain Fipronil and Flumethrin, both of which are types of insecticides used for killing a number of insects and parasites.
Oral medications are also available. These can help to relieve some of the pain associated with the disease, as well as make the process of healing the skin faster.
Living with Mange
Dogs living with mange should be quarantined and kept away from both other animals, and even humans. Humans may also serve as hosts for the mites, and can experience severe itching and illness.
A full treatment should be provided before the dog is removed from quarantine. A veterinary clinic may have a special area designated for this type of thing. This is a safer option than leaving the dog within a household.
Preventing mange starts with keeping pets away from others, especially when they are known to have the disease. It is also wise to clean all bedding and furniture so no mites are found in the area.
Regular baths are required for every dog, which helps keep the skin and fur clean. It is also important for an owner to comb their pet’s hair on a regular basis to keep it from getting matted and tangled, where mites can easily hide.
Mange can recur in dogs with a weak immune system. Keeping the immune system healthy is a great preventative measure to take. This involves a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Mange is a serious problem for dogs that should be prevented as much as possible, and treated as soon as it does occur.