Mange in Puppies: Causes, Signs, & Treatments

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Mange is a very common condition in both adult dogs and puppies, but many owners do not recognize mange when it begins to develop and do not know how to treat mange in puppies. Finding the right treatment option for a puppy can be more difficult than an adult dog as the dosage must be adjusted accordingly and puppies are often much more sensitive to medication. This guide will help you identify mange in puppies, as well as better understand the symptoms, causes, and treatment methods.

What is Mange?

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Before delving into the causes, signs, and treatments of mange, it is important to understand exactly what mange is. Mange in dogs is a type of parasitic skin disease that is characterized by the presence of a large number of parasitic mites. The parasitic mites burrow themselves into a dog’s hair and/or skin follicles, making them uncomfortable and difficult to identify by the untrained eye.

It is vital to keep in mind that microscopic parasites are often found in small numbers on the surface of a dog’s body, but in much smaller numbers than when mange has developed. There are two main types of mange that occur in dogs: demodectic and sarcoptic mange. Demodectic mange occurs when a dog or puppy’s immune system is in some way compromised and cannot regulate the mites on the surface of the skin. Sarcoptic mange develops as a result of canine scabies, which are also commonly referred to as burrowing mites. Mange in puppies is most often demodectic mange.

Causes of Mange in Puppies

In puppies, mange is most often caused by the lack of a fully developed immune system. Puppies have a lowered resistance to contracting diseases and conditions as they do not yet have an immune system that is strong enough to resist the presence of an outside bacteria or parasite. Because puppies have a compromised immune system, their body in unable to regulate the mites, which leads to an overpopulation of mites on the surface of the skin.

This results in the development of a variety of skin issues in dogs. Mange in puppies most often affects puppies under two years of age and some believe the mites are transferred to them from their mothers while nursing. As puppies grow older, their immune systems will become stronger and develop a resistance to the infestation of parasitic mites that characterizes mange.

Signs of Mange in Puppies

Mange develops differently in each puppy due to the type and severity, as well as the unique biological and environmental attributes. Mange occurs in two overarching forms, localized and generalized. Localized mange is restricted to one area of the body, while generalized mange spreads across the entirety of the body. Puppies most often are afflicted by localized mange. Below are the most common symptoms associated with mange in puppies.

  • Skin rash
  • Scabbing
  • Hair Loss
  • Bald Spots
  • Sores
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Scaling
  • Alopecia

Potential Treatments for Mange in Puppies

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Treatment for mange in puppies is dependent on the severity of the mange. In order to determine the right treatment option for your puppy, it is vital to visit a veterinarian. During your visit, the veterinarian will often conduct a skin scraping that will then be examined under a microscope.

Oftentimes, puppies develop mild, localized forms of mange that will resolve themselves over time as the immune system strengthens. However, if the case of mange is more severe, the veterinarian may prescribe an anti-parasitic medication or an Amitraz dip to help rid the body of the infestation of parasitic mites.

The veterinarian will determine which treatment option is safest and most well-suited to your puppy based on their physical examination and any resultant tests they conduct. It is vital to keep in mind that available treatment options are dependent upon the age of the puppy. For older puppies, anti-parasitic medication or an Amitraz dip may be a safe option; however, for an eight-week-old puppy they may be too harsh to use.

Every medication has potential side effects, so be sure to discuss any possible treatment options and their respective side effects with your veterinarian during your visit in order to select a treatment option you are comfortable administering.

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