When it comes to your dog’s overall health, a commonly overlooked aspect that many pet owners ignore is their skin. Many times, a dog can be hiding an infection or a build-up of bacteria underneath his furry coat, without ever realizing that he’s in any kind of danger. If you notice your dog’s coat becoming patchy or dry, chances are, there may be an underlying issue that’s causing these problems.
One of the most common skin conditions in dogs is mange. This skin disease is caused by parasitic mites that burrow deep into a dog’s skin. When an infection occurs, or there is an infestation, mange will shortly follow.
Types of Mange in Dogs
There are two types of mange that affect dogs – Demodectic or Sarcoptic. Demodectic mange occurs when a dog’s immune system has been compromised, causing an excess growth in mites that are commonly found on his skin.
These parasitic mites live on the surface of a dog’s skin naturally and are unharming at a standard level. However, when a dog’s immune system is depleted, he can no longer fight against these mites, causing an infestation. In some cases, Demodectic mange can be cured on its own when the immune system is strengthened. In severe cases, the dog will need medication for treatment.
On the other hand, Sarcoptic mange is highly infectious and is passed from one dog to another through direct contact. Sarcoptic mange is considered more severe because these mites cause immediate discomfort.
The parasitic mite will burrow themselves deep into the skin of the dog, leading to severe itching. When the dog itches excessively, his hair will thin or fall out, causing mange.
Signs of Mange in Dogs
The very first sign of mange that is present in dogs is their itching and scratching. If your dog is constantly scratching himself and appears to be uncomfortable, chances are, he could be suffering from a mite infestation or infection. Excessive itching will then lead to several other canine skin complications such as infections, sores, or inflammation in dogs.
One of the main symptoms that can be seen in a dog with mange is red and patchy skin. The mites that cause mange are known to cause itchiness and discomfort, which will make your dog aggressively rub his skin. In severe cases, a dog’s scratching can lead to secondary infections and further irritation due to bacteria and yeast.
The main areas that are targeted by these parasitic mites are places that have little hair growth. These areas include the armpit, ears, groin, belly, and chest. Once a dog is infected, their skin will become red, crusty, and irritated. Bald spots may also occur, starting in a targeted area, eventually spreading throughout the rest of the body.
Another common sign to look out for is inflamed or swollen feet. Oftentimes, when an animal is infected with mites, they will also get Demodectic Pododermatitis. This condition occurs when mites burrow deep into the feet of your furry friend, causing his paws to swell and become inflamed. Check your dog’s feet for puffiness, redness, or tenderness, as these are all signs of an underlying issue.
How to Treat Mange
While mange is not a death sentence, it will need veterinary attention for treatment. Since mange has relatively broad symptoms, it is important to rule out other possible conditions such as allergies, cancers, or genetic diseases.
Once your veterinarian is able to accurately diagnosis your pet through a biopsy or a skin scraping, they can provide your dog with appropriate medication. In the case that your dog is diagnosed with Sarcoptic mange, make sure to thoroughly clean any areas of your home that may be affected by mites.
These mites can live several days without a host and may linger in the couch, dog bed, blankets, or other furniture around your home. This step is critical in order to prevent your dog from being re-infected later on after treatment. Most veterinarians will recommend four weeks of treatment in order to fully rid the dog of any remaining nymphs or mites that might be latching on.
If your dog is affected by mange, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Even though this condition is not life threatening, it can still be extremely uncomfortable for your little pup, especially if it’s gone untreated for a long period of time. Once your furry friend has been diagnosed, he will be able to make a complete recovery when given the proper treatment.