Mange is a common skin disease in dogs and puppies. These dogs appear to be beyond hope hairless, with skin covered in sores or with thickened, hard, crusty patches. It’s a horrible, painful condition, but can be effectively treated.
Mange refers to skin diseases caused by mites. The term is derived from a French word mangeue, which translates into to eat or itch. Mange, caused by different kinds of mites, affects many kinds of animals, including humans.
Mange in Dogs
In dogs, there are two major forms of mange, each caused by different mites. We have Sarcoptic Mange also known as scabies and Demodectic Mange also known as red mange or Demodex.
Canine scabies is the other name, this disease is caused by a circular-shaped, eight-legged mite called the Sarcoptes scabiei. This form of mange is highly contagious. The parasite can be transmitted from dog to dog and can pass from dogs to humans.
Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange
Symptoms will generally appear about 10 days to 8 weeks after contact with a dog carrying scabies. Typically, the first signs of the infection will be on the margins of the ears, chest, elbows, hocks, and belly. Untreated, they can quickly spread. The most common symptoms of sarcoptic mange include:
- Extreme itchiness
- Redness and rash
- Thick yellow crusts
- Hair loss
- Bacteria and yeast infections
- Thickening of the skin (advanced cases)
- Lymph node inflammation (advanced cases)
- Emaciation (extreme cases)
Demodectic mange, or demodex, is caused by a cigar-shaped mite, Demodex canis. They are passed to pups from their mothers in the first few days after birth, but it is not contagious to humans. The mites take up residence deep in hair follicles and stay there, causing no trouble. A normal immune system keeps their numbers in check.
Puppies who inherit a weakness in their immune systems will be prone to a particularly serious form of demodex, known as juvenile onset. Young healthy dogs may develop some patches of demodex, which sometimes go away on their own or with localized topical treatment
Symptoms of Demodectic Mange
- In localized cases, it shows up as patches of hair loss and red, scaling skin.
- In generalized cases, the entire body may be covered with redness, infections, scaling, swelling, and crusts. Often the dog loses most, if not all, hair.
Treatments for both forms of mange include several strategies:
- Hair clipping
- Dipping to cleanse and heal skin: Baths in medicated shampoos on a weekly basis will help heal and soften skin.
- Mite eradication and control: Topical applications of compounds to kill the mites, such as selamectin and imidacloprid-moxidectin formulations, over a period of several weeks have been shown to be effective.
- Oral treatments are also sometimes used.
Both scabies and Demodex will require treatments to heal the skin and control the mites. Some people are tempted to treat the condition without expert guidance, but it’s prudent to see a veterinarian because even a mild case can grow quickly before the case gets out of hand.