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Summary: In this blog, we learn all about dog mange. We’ll learn what mange in dogs is, how dogs develop mange, what the signs and symptoms of dog mange are and how to prevent it from happening to your beloved pup…
Yes, mange is typically thought of as an issue that affects stray, neglected or abused dogs but that doesn’t mean loved, homed dogs can’t fall victim to the infection too…
Did you know that there are actually two types of dog mange?
Sarcoptic mange (also known as Scabies) comes about when microscopic, spider-like mites infect and burrow beneath a doggo’s skin and lay their eggs. The eggs then hatch into larvae after 3-10 days and then continue about their life into adult mites, repeating the burrowing and hatching process. A mite’s life cycle is about 1 month.
Demodectic Mange (or Red Mange or Demodex) is a rarer form of mange in dogs and is often transmitted from mother to puppies. The mite-load present is much smaller compared to sarcoptic infections and can often remain dormant unless a dog or puppy’s immune system is compromised, allowing the parasites to take over the body.
The general symptoms of mange in dogs include:
In cases of sarcoptic dog mange, the mites actually prefer hairless skin so the first areas to appear infected with mange will usually be the belly, the ears or the armpits where there is less fur. Your dog will itch a lot and the skin will be sore and red – however, the appearance may vary from dog to dog. If your dog attacks their own skin in an attempt to relieve themselves of the itch, hair loss may occur. In addition, scabs may form and crusty skin may develop.
If sarcoptic dog mange is left untreated, their lymph nodes can swell up and infections may come about from the open sores caused by self-biting and scratching.
Demodectic mange can present itself in multiple forms.
Firstly, if it’s a localised infection, scaly bald patches can form on the dog’s face, incredibly common in puppies.
Then, if it’s a generalised infection these patches will occur across more areas of the body. This will typically happen to a dog under the age of 18 months, and they will usually also have a deficient immune system. When an infection of this type of mange in dogs occurs in older pups, it’s usually a sign of a problem with their immune system. The dog may also develop severe itchy skin and they can also start to smell bad. In most cases of generalised demodectic dog mange, the immune system will recover and suppress the parasite’s rampage itself.
There is also a version of demodectic mange calledDemodectic Pododermatitis, where the condition only affects the paw area. Often this is trickier to diagnose too. Because of this condition, deep-tissue bacterial infections can sometimes occur. Older herding dogs and the Shar-Pei breed are more commonly affected by this type of demodectic mange.
Sarcoptic mange is incredibly contagious between other dogs through physical contact or if they share bedding/a couch/car seats etc. On the rare occasion your dog comes into contact with an infected urban fox, they can also contract these mites from them.
Sarcoptic mange can also be transmitted from dogs to humans, although the mites don’t typically thrive in a non-canine host. As they are unable to complete their life cycle on a human’s skin, they will cause severe itching until they die.
If you are unfortunate enough to contract mange/scabies, consult with your doctor who will prescribe you medication to treat the infection quicker. In addition, make sure you thoroughly wash your clothing and all your household’s bedding, blankets etc in hot water. You may also be advised to treat symptomless members of your household just in case. Cool compresses or calamine lotion can help soothe the itching too.
Demodectic mange is most often passed from mother dog to pups. It is not contagious between other dogs, animals or humans.
If you suspect your dog has mange, it’s essential they are seen by a vet. Mange in dogs is a horrible, uncomfortable and painful condition to experience so the quicker you get them proper, professional treatment the better. Do not be tempted by home remedies as these will at best just mask the symptoms but ultimately prolong your doggo’s pain.
Both types of dog mange will need medicated treatment to control the mite infestation and heal the skin. These will likely include a medicated shampoo for bathing and topically applied medicine to kill the mites. Oral medication may be recommended in some cases. If you have other pets, make sure to tell your vet as they may also require treatment even if they are symptomless.
Once a dog has seen a vet and gotten the appropriate treatment prescribed, the infection will most likely clear within the month. If the vet decides it’s demodectic mange, they will most likely want to assess your dog’s overall health and immunity to check whether it is currently compromised.
Your dog should have a strong immune system and you can help your dog here by providing a varied, healthy diet with lots of fibre and vitamins, keeping them at the optimum weight and exercising them the correct amount of time for their size, age and breed.
You can also support their immune system by supplementing with probiotics. Making sure their gut health is in order can directly contribute to an overall healthier dog that can fight off infections and parasitic threats more efficiently.
Stress can negatively impact a dog’s immunity too, which is brought on by things like lack of mental stimulation, exercise and interaction. Hormonal changes can also affect your dog’s immune system, which is another reason why it’s recommended that you neuter/spay your pup if you’re not planning on breeding them.
Regularly grooming your dog and washing their bedding and blankets can help keep them clean but also allow you to monitor their skin condition and assess whether any parasitic infection is taking place, enabling you to take action quickly.
Finally, you should be administering to your dog(s) regular anti-parasitic treatment that can help prevent the contraction of fleas, worms and mites. This also applies to your cats if you own a cat too. It’s part and parcel of being a good pet owner and community member - you’re protecting your household and other pets and those around you. Consult with your vet over which is the best course for your pooch, as there are a variety of prevention methods available from injection and tablet forms to spot-on treatments.