Mange is an inflammatory skin disease caused by mites. There are two mange mites that cause skin disease:
- Demodex: most common and live in the root of the hair
- Sarcoptes: live under the skin
There are similarities between the two, but also important differences.
Demodex gets transmitted by direct contact, usually by a mother nursing her puppies. It is not contagious to other dogs or people.
Every dog has small numbers of this mite, demodex, in its hair. If they multiply, the dog will develop demodectic mange.
The most common factor that causes demodex to multiply is a weak immune system. (Most common in puppies.)
Other factors include:
- Underlying illness
- Poor nutrition
- Heat cycles
- Giving birth
There are 2 forms of Demodectic Mange:
- Localized Demodectic Mange: a few patches of hair loss on the face
- Generalized Demodectic Mange: lesions (red and flaky bare skin) around the entire body
A dog with demodectic mange will usually not scratch excessively.
In order to properly diagnose your dog with demodectic mange, your veterinarian may perform the following:
- Skin scraping
- Skin biopsy
Your veterinarians will advise treatment depending on the form of mange.
- Topical medications (medication applied to the skin)
Medicated dips to kill the mites, performed by the veterinarian, with skin scrapings as a follow-up. Your dog will not need any more dip treatments once all the signs are gone and there are a few negative skin scraping.
Most cases of mange are the result of malnutrition or a weakened immune system. Give your dog supplements, especially those containing omega fats, to strengthen its immune system.
Avoiding stress is another way to help prevent demodectic mange. Heat cycles are very stressful to the body, so make sure to spay/neuter your dog.
To prevent re-infection:
- Disinfect the entire environment
- Thoroughly clean or dispose of your dog’s bedding
Both localized and generalized mange are usually treatable. If there is an underlying issue, it must be treated as well.
This condition can relapse with any stress.