Expert Veterinarian Advice: Everything You Need to Know about Mange in Dogs
While your dog’s itching, licking, and hair loss could be due to a ton of reasons, mange is a condition that should be ruled out as soon as possible. While mange is generally treatable if you move quickly, it also has the potential to be a very serious matter, so it’s important to know the facts surrounding mange in dogs so you can keep your pup, and other pups out of harm’s way.
What is Mange?
Mange is a skin condition that is caused by an infestation of mites. Most commonly, mites, which are parasitic and related to ticks, infest the dog by burrowing their bodies underneath the top layer of skin to lay their eggs. And from there, they hatch and repeat.
Now, there are two different forms of mange in dogs, sarcoptic and demodectic, and one of them is more contagious than the other. In fact, one of them isn’t contagious at all!
Sarcoptic mange vs demodectic mange
There are two major forms of mange in dogs, and each of them is caused by two different types of mites.
Demodectic mange in dogs (red mange)
Not usually serious, and never contagious to humans, this mange is caused by the infestation of the Demodex Canis mite. Now, even if you may not notice, animals and humans both have Demodex mites in their hair, resting on their hair follicles. Dogs usually get it as a puppy from their mother as their breastfeeding.
However, our immune system and our dog’s immune system are usually strong enough to fend parasites off. If a dog develops demodectic mange, that usually means that the mites have overwhelmed your pup, leading to a weakened immune system, or that your pup’s immune system is too weak to protect their skin from the mites. Whatever cause, it leads to the same place. The mites cause inflammation in the skin, which results in hair loss and painful itching. Some other symptoms of demodectic mange are:
- Hairless patches
- Bumpy skin
- Skin discoloration
- Repeated infections with smelly odor
Sarcoptic mange in dogs (scabies)
Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is the most serious of the two types of mange in dogs. In fact, sarcoptic mange is highly contagious and harmful if not treated. It’s caused by a tiny sarcoptic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei, which is a parasite that can be transmitted just by a dog brushing up against another dog. The way sarcoptic mange manifests is when the female mite burrows into the top layer of a dog’s skin and lays its eggs. After about three weeks, the eggs will hatch and they will feast on your furry friend’s skin. Rinse and repeat, the cycle goes on.
It’s important to note that if your dog does have sarcoptic mange, you and your affected dog will need to be quarantined and have to decontaminate your living space. In advanced cases, you’ll see your dog’s skin thickening, as well as lymph node inflammation. Some other symptoms of a more mild sarcoptic mange include:
- Intense itching
- Redness and rash
- Thick yellow crusts
- Hair loss
- Bacteria and yeast infections
If you believe your dog may have either of the infestations above, they will both require treatments to take care of it. You must speak with a vet before trying to treat the condition from home, as even very mild cases of mange can spread fast.
Your vet could recommend hair clippings, a bathing routine that includes medicated shampoos to help heal and hydrate the skin, and they may even prescribe oral medication or topical treatment like selamectin and imidacloprid-moxidectin, which can be used over several weeks to kill the mites.
While mange is scary, there are quite a few treatable solutions if you act fast. And whether you know which infestation it is, reaching out to a vet is the perfect place to start.