Mange is an inflammatory skin disease in dogs caused by different types of mites. There are two common types of mange in dogs: Demodectic Mange and Sarcoptic Mange. The causes, symptoms, and treatments depend on the type of mange a dog is suffering from.
The Demodex mite causes demodectic mange. These parasites normally reside on your dog’s skin and hair follicles and are transferred to dogs after birth, while they are in close contact with their mother’s skin.
The Demodex mite typically only causes mange in dogs when there is a problem with the dog’s immune system. If a dog has a weakened or underdeveloped immune system, he may suffer from an overgrowth of mites on his skin. As a result, this form is most commonly seen in younger dogs or those who have been exposed to trauma or unsanitary living conditions.
When an overgrowth of mites occurs, your dog’s skin will start to itch. The symptoms that accompany demodectic mange will depend on if the mange is localized in one area, or generalized throughout the entire body.
Irregular hair loss in dogs is the most common symptom of localized demodectic mange, with the potential accompaniment of mild itchy skin at the site. Mild cases of demodectic mange may clear up on their own.
When demodectic mange affects the entire body, there is widespread hair-loss, infected skin, and severe itching. The severe itchiness is what causes your dog to scratch and chew his skin, promoting more hair loss and bacterial infections.
While any dog can develop mange, many experts believe that some genetic factors predispose certain breeds to develop demodectic mange. A few of these breeds include American Pit Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Chihuahuas, Bulldogs, Great Danes, and Pugs.
The Sarcoptes scabiei mite causes Sarcoptic Mange. This parasite is typically transferred to your dog after being exposed to an infected animal. This kind of mange is extremely contagious and should be handled quickly to prevent further exposure to other animals. Sarcoptes mites can also be transferred to cats and humans. Therefore, it is critical to treat the condition and handle it with caution.
Exposure to other infected animals typically occurs in settings where your dog is in close proximity to others. High rates of acquiring Sarcoptic mange mites is seen in animals that have been to dog parks, groomers, boarding kennels, and animal shelters.
These parasitic mites are not normally found on your pet, so when they burrow under your dog’s skin, it causes your furry friend to experience severe itching. A dog that has Sarcoptic mange will scratch and bite to the point where full hair-loss can occur if left untreated. The skin also has the potential to turn thick, red, and scaly.
If your dog is diagnosed with Sarcoptic mange, you will need to throw away, or thoroughly wash any dog bedding and fabrics with hot water and bleach. This will help to ensure that your dog does not become re-infected.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Mange in Dogs
Although there are two common forms of mange with separate causes, there are some similarities between the two. Mange is known for causing itchy skin irritation that leads to hair loss and bald spots. Both conditions can take on three different forms: localized, generalized throughout the entire body, or only on their paws.
A veterinarian diagnoses both of these disorders through samples of skin scrapings. Once a diagnosis has occurred, your veterinarian will determine your dog’s best option for treatment depending on his condition. A prescription oral medication and topical treatment for the skin is the likely course of action. You may also have to do follow up treatments for a few rounds to get rid of recurring mites and ensure the infection is gone.
Knowing what causes mange in dogs is the best way that you can prevent your pet from getting this disease. If you see another animal that is exhibiting symptoms associated with mange, remove your dog from the situation as soon as possible!