How to Recognize Mange in Pet Dogs
My Min Pin - Buzz
Does My Pet Have Mange?
Let me begin by saying I had a very strange conception of mange. I thought only stray dogs in poor countries got mange. Obviously, I was very wrong. I've read articles here and there but again, I'm one of those people who thought, "Not my dog"! Wrong again. What I need to realize most is my Min Pin Buzz is prone to everything that comes along together with some stuff you've never heard of!
It's not like mange is a new disease or that its one you never hear of. The thing is, I had no idea just how prevalent it can be! My vet said he treats several cases a year. Now I know in a good vets practice that's not a large percentage; however, it is much more than I would ever have dreamed!
What Is Mange?
Exactly what is mange? Well, it is said to be a skin disease, but I find fault with that description. The resulting skin disease is very obvious, but these tiny mites burrow deep into the skin of the animal and take up residence. They lay eggs and then their eggs hatch and lay more eggs. While this vicious cycle of procreation is taking place, the animal, in this case, my dog, begins to itch.
The itch is said to be extremely intense and unnerving. Having watched my poor dog scratching almost non-stop, I can only imagine how he must've been suffering. As the dog scratches the itch, the skin becomes inflamed, then infected. Sores can form then become crusted, and in most cases, patches of hair begin to fall out.
According to the ASCPA, there are many different types of mites, some of which live on your dog without causing harm. However, the culprits here are light-colored and oval. Not that you'd ever see them.
Surprisingly there are three different types of mange. One type, is when the mites are only seen in small areas or patches. You may notice bald spots occurring on the dog's face or neck. This type of mange is often seen in puppies and surprisingly will resolve itself without any treatment. The interesting thing here is the puppy probably got those mites from its mother who shows no signs and/or has no problems.
The second type, Generalized demodectic mange, which is what I believe my dog has, can affect the dog's whole body. Secondary infections erupt from all the itching and broken skin. Patches of hair falling out can either be small or large and located anywhere on the body. This type of mange can also be an indication of an autoimmune problem in the system, a problem with the endocrine system, a hereditary issue, or other underlying health condition.
The third type is confined to the foot and is very difficult to diagnose.
Is it contagious? Like many other things, it depends on who you ask. Some say yes, any animal can get these mites from an infected animal. Others say if your dog is healthy, his body can deal with the mites and contagion won't be an issue. The more important issue to some is, can humans get those mites? Again, the answers are mixed, but my vet believes the answer is yes.
When a human gets those mites it is called scabies, not mange, though they are the same mites. I have to add, Buzz sleeps in bed with my husband and I, and to date, thankfully, neither of us have been infected. However, we know there is contagion, or there wouldn't be mange! These little mites jump from animal to animal. Some animals do not become infected because of their constitution or resistance. Others obviously do. These mites can only live for 36 hours without a warm body.
Have You Ever Had a Dog with Mange?
Dogs Prone to Mange
- Puppies under 18 months old
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Shar Peis
- Lhasa Apsos
Do not try to treat mange on your own. Always seek medical treatment from a veterinarian.
Treatment of Mange
Always seek a veterinarian's diagnosis. Don't try to treat mange on your own no matter how many things you read about home remedies or natural treatments. If your dog has had an allergic reaction and his skin is broken out, you must get the proper medicine to rid him of those miserable mites.
- First, a diagnosis is necessary. Sadly, skin scrapings are taken from the dog. Skin scrapings that make the skin bleed so that it can be examined under a microscope for mites.
- Mites are not always found in skin scrapings, so the dog is treated for mange anyway if he has all the symptoms. After two weeks if there is no improvement, it is most likely not mange, and further tests are required.
- One of the most effective medications used is Ivermectin. That is the medication my dog is being treated with.
- Another course is the flea and tick treatment Revolution. The normally once monthly application needs to be increased to two times a week.
- An antibiotic will often be given to control skin infection.
Always follow through with whatever treatment your Vet recommends. Never stop the medication because the dog looks or appears better. Finish the medication and follow up with your Vet, the last thing you want is to have your poor dog start all over again!
Mange in the Wild
Dogs are certainly not the only animals that suffer from mange. As a matter of fact, dogs can be infected with mange by wild animals they encounter. For example, my vet told me of a man whose dog had mange and no matter what they did they couldn't get rid of it. One night, the owner saw a fox rubbing up against his fence post. The next day he observed his dog rubbing up against the same fence post (remember the mites live for 36 hours). The owner shot the mangy fox, replaced the fence post and his dog never had mange again!
The list of animals that are susceptible to mange is practically endless, here are just a few:
- Rabbits (the suspected culprit for my dog's mange)
- Mountain Gorillas
In the wild, animals are obviously not treated for mange and as a result, many die from this debilitating disease.
Hopefully, this is a 'disease' you will never encounter. If you do, though, get your pet to a vet and follow his directions to the letter. Once under control, the itching will stop, and in a matter of weeks, the mites will be gone!
Feed your dog the best dog foods and supplements if needed. A strong immune system is your best prevention. Using Revolution tea and flick medication may help with some dogs as well. Whatever you do, good luck. Always try to keep your pet safe and healthy.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Mary Craig