Mange is a skin issue that plagues dogs who spend lots of time outdoors. Treating it isn’t as tricky as you’d think under the supervision of a veterinarian. Today we discuss how to treat mange.
What Is Mange?
Mange is a skin condition that feels just as bad as it looks. It often happens to dogs who have been mistreated somehow has been left to fend for themselves. This can mean either the dog was a stray, neglected, or abused.
Any dog that develops mange will be in bad shape. Mange is caused by mites that burrow into a dog’s skin. Once the mites take hold, a dog will be itchy and rashy. These mites can even cause hair loss, lesions, scales, and immune system problems. In all, a “mangy” dog is a dog who needs help.
Types of Mange
Two different types of mites can cause mange in dogs. Because of this, two different types of mange are most common for dogs to contract.
Sarcoptic mange is the most common type of mange. It is caused by a circular shaped mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. Because a mite causes this form of mange, it is very contagious. Any dog coming in contact with an infected dog can also develop a mite infection. These mites can also infect humans. However, they do not usually thrive on human hosts.
When a dog develops sarcoptic mange, it is caused by a female mite laying eggs on the dog’s skin. About three weeks later, the eggs that were buried deep in the dog’s skin begin to hatch. These baby mites feed on the dog’s skin and cause rashes and sores. The most common places to find a mite infection on your dog would be around their ears, chest, elbows, and belly.
Common symptoms of a mite infection will include:
- A rash and redness
- Thickening and yellowing of the skin
- Hair loss
- Bacterial or yeast infections
If a dog has an advanced case of mange, they can also develop inflammation of the lymph nodes, and they can become emaciated.
A mite also causes demodectic mange. This one is more cigar-shaped rather than circular. The Demodex canis is a mite that is always present on a dog’s skin. Usually, these mites are rather harmless. They live in a dog’s hair follicles and are typically kept under control by a dog’s immune system.
A case of demodectic mange can develop in dogs who have a weakened immune system. This can be either new pups, elderly dogs, or dogs who have another underlying illness like cancer or diabetes.
Even relatively healthy dogs can develop localized cases of demodectic mange if they have been ill. This can get better, but most times, a topical treatment will be needed to get these mites back under control.
If demodectic mange develops on an immunocompromised dog, they can develop scaling, redness, crusty skin and will likely lose most of their hair. In such cases, you’ll surely have to take your dog to the vet for treatment.
How to Treat Mange
The first step for treating mange is to take your dog to the vet. Your vet will want to confirm your dog’s condition. They’ll likely take a skin sample to investigate under a microscope. Checking the skin sample will also help to identify what type of mite is causing the infection.
No matter what form of mange your dog has, the treatment has to treat your dog’s skin and the underlying issue. After a vet confirms that your dog has mange, they will likely want to shave the dog. Mites love to live in your dog’s fur because the fur helps to trap moisture. By trimming their fur, your dog’s skin will better be able to breathe. This will deter mites from living on your dog’s skin.
Your vet might also recommend dipping your dog. They do not dip your dog. Instead, they bathe your dog with a medicated shampoo. This medication helps to kill mites and their eggs. It also helps to soothe your dog’s irritated skin.
Your vet may also give you a salve to be applied to your dog’s skin. Over several weeks, the medication will kill off the remaining mites. Sometimes your vet may also recommend an oral medication to help prevent reinfection.
Mange in dogs can be a severe condition. If treated early, it can merely be a nuisance. If not treated, it can be fatal. If you suspect your dog has mange, be sure to take them to the vet as soon as possible.