Mange and Your Dog

There are two types of mange.  The first type is inflammation and redness caused by different types of the Demodex mite.  When too many mites are on the dog, it can lead to skin lesions, genetic disorders, problems of the immune system, and hair loss. The severity of the problems varies depending on the type of mite and the number of them.

Demodectic mange, the type caused by the Demodex mite, may be either localized or global.  If it is local, the symptoms are usually mild, with lesions occurring in patches, especially on the face, torso, or legs.  If the problem is global, symptoms will occur across the body.  Global demodectic mange usually includes loss of hair, a redness of the skin, and the appearance of scales and leasions.  The dog is also miserable.

No one knows the exact cause of mange.  It may be a genetic immune system disorder that causes the dog to react to the Demodex mite, or some other cause.  Mange is diagnosed by taking a skin scraping and looking for the presence of mites in the sample.

A urine sample may be taken to look for metabolic causes for the skin problems.  The veterinarian will also rule out bacterial infection of the hair follicles.

Once the dog is diagnosed, the goal is to kill the mites without hurting the dog.  If the problem is localized, it may spontaneously disappear.  This happens in some ninety percent of cases.

If, however, the dog has generalized mange, long term medication may be necessary to treat the symptoms.  Lime-sulphur dips are helpful.  In any case, the general health of the animal should be evaluated to make sure there is not some other problem causing the symptoms.

The dog will have to take medication to treat the symptoms for a long time.  This medication will have to be carefully monitored.  Dogs with mange should not be breed because of the likely genetic component of the problem.

Sarcoptic mange is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite.  It is highly contagious and can effect other dogs and people.  The mites burrow into the dogs skin, causing intense itching.  The dog scratches the area until it becomes irritated and the hair falls out.  There is a skin rash and crusting on the skin.

Diagnosis involves ruling out metabolic problems, allergies, and other types of mites.  Dogs with this problem are treated with a scabicide to kill the mites.  This treatment must be repeated regularly for four to six weeks to kill not only the present mites, but all those that hatch from eggs on the dogs.  Most scabicides do not kill the eggs.

Because this is so contagious, washing the dog’s bedding in hot water is recommended.  This will kill any mites or eggs on the bedding.  In addition, limiting contact with your dog is recommended so you do not develop the mites.

The only preventative measure you can take for sarcoptic mange is to keep your dog away from other animals that have the problem.