Mange In Dogs
Mange is often used as a general term to describe any kind of skin problem on a dog where there is a loss of hair and scratching. Someone may describe a dog as “mangy” if it has a ragged-looking coat or is in poor condition, for example. However, from a veterinary viewpoint, mange in dogs is a skin condition caused by mites. There are actually four kinds of mange that affect dogs and they require different kinds of treatment. Mites are not insects. They are more closely related to spiders.
Demodectic mange, which is also called “red mange,” is caused by an excess of Demodex canis mites in a dog’s hair follicles. These mites are always present on dogs. They are passed from mother to puppy early in life. They are normally nothing to be concerned about. However, when a dog’s immune system is weak, the mites can become a problem. This can happen when puppies are young, with elderly dogs, or if the dog has a compromised immune system. A lack of resistance to demodectic mange may be hereditary. Most dogs have no problem keeping the population of Demodex canis mites down and they are never a problem.
Demodectic mange is not contagious to other dogs or to people. However if dogs do display this kind of mange in dogs (other than as puppies), they should probably not be bred as it may indicate problems with their immune system.
Sarcoptic mange can be very alarming to pet owners. Sarcoptic mange is also known as canine scabies. It is the result of an infestation of Sarcoptes scabei canis mite. These mites typically burrow into the ski of the dog in order to lay their eggs. The mites can live up to 21 days, though they usually only live about six days if they stay on the outer skin of your dog at room temperature. This kind of mange is very contagious and it can be spread from dog to dog, and from dogs to people.
With Sarcoptic mange, the female mite burrows into the host animal’s skin and lays several eggs. When these eggs hatch the larva climb out and crawl around on the dog’s skin. These young mites gradually mature and will mate, burrowing into your dog’s skin and laying more eggs. The movement of the mites on your dog’s skin causes intense itching. In addition, the burrowing mites and their eggs causes your dog to have a strong allergic reaction which causes even more itching. Sarcoptic mange often occurs in the same places on a dog where there is thin hair as an allergy will first appear, such as food allergies or airborne allergies (ear flaps, elbows, abdomen). If you think that your dog has an allergy, you should always have your dog tested for Sarcoptic mange in order to rule it out first.
This form of mange is also called “Walking dandruff” and it is apt to disturb pet owners since the mites can actually be seen moving around the dog’s skin and coat. The mite responsible is the Cheyletiella yasguri mite. Their life cycle is 21 days and this kind of mange is very contagious. They can spread between animals and to people. This kind of mange is often found where animals are kept in larger numbers, such as shelters and boarding kennels.
Ear mites are also considered a form of mange when they affect the outer ear. The mite in this case is the Otodectes cynotis mite. They are contagious and can spread to other animals. However, they do not affect people.
Demodectic mange, or red mange, can take two forms. One form is localized. In this case the Demodex will show as a few red, hairless patches. They are often found on the head. They may be raised and could look like pimples. They may itch for some dogs and some dogs may not notice them.
The other form is generalized Demodex. In these cases there is lots of hair loss and the skin is very irritated. There are often bacterial infections accompanying the itchy skin. There may be fever and the dog’s pads may be swollen. Your dog’s itching may be severe.
The first sign of Sarcoptic mange is usually sudden, intense itching. Next you may notice small, hard bumps. These will quickly become encrusted from your dog’s scratching and form sores which will spread over your dog’s body. The sores can become infected. If Sarcoptic mange isn’t treated it may become deadly.
The most obvious symptom of Cheyletiellosis is noticing mites actually moving on your dog’s coat, hence the term “walking dandruff.” You may also see flaking and scaling in the coat and skin. Your dog will also itch.
Ear mites in dogs will usually cause your dog to be sensitive when his ears are touched. He may tilt his head to the side and shake his head. You may notice him scratching his ears. His ears may smell bad and he may have a dark discharge inside the ear.
How to Diagnose Mange in Dogs
The diagnosis technique for the different types of mange are similar. Your veterinarian will need to perform a physical examination of your dog. He or she will also need to take skin scrapings to look for mites under the microscope. This will include using a scalpel on your dog’s skin and hair follicles. This will leave a small scraped spot on your dog’s skin where the scraping is taken. Your vet will probably take several scrapings at different places on your dog’s body.
Most Demodectic mange is treated topically. Benzoyl peroxide and Goodwinol ointment are often prescribed to be applied to the site of localized areas of mange. Some localized cases may clear up on their own. To treat generalized Demodex, Amitraz dips are sometimes prescribed but you should discuss this treatment with your veterinarian as there are safety concerns. Ivermectin and Milbemycin oxime are also used to treat Demodex. These are ingredients found in heartworm medications. Your vet may also need to prescribe antibiotics if your dog has a secondary infection.
Since Sarcoptic mange can be transmitted to other animals and to people, you will need to treat all of your pets which may have been in contact with your dog. You may need to clip your dog’s fur so any scabs or other irritations can be seen and reached when you bathe your dog with a medicated shampoo. These shampoos are called antiseborrhics. After bathing you will need to apply a dip to your dog to kill the mites. Amitraz or Lime-Sulfur are usually prescribed. You will need to repeat this procedure 3-4 times every couple of weeks in order to end your dog’s mite problem. Your vet will need to prescribe antibiotics if your dog has any secondary infections.
It is also possible to treat Sarcoptic mange with Ivermectin or its derivatives, such as Selamectin or Moxidectin. These products are found in Heartgard, Revolution and Advantage Multi, respectively. Milbemycin oxime, found in Interceptor or Sentinel, is also used to treat Sarcoptic mange. These products can be prescribed for your dog for off-label use to treat Sarcoptic mange, but they are effective.
Your dog’s bedding will need to be washed in hot water and treated with an insecticide to kill the mites. Mites do not usually live long once they are off their host’s body but there may be some mites in the bedding. You must keep your house clean while your dog is undergoing treatment. Mites can infect people but they won’t be able to reproduce on people.
Treatment for Cheyletiellosis, or Walking dandruff, must be applied to all the pets in your home since this form of mange is very contagious. Treatment is usually topical and includes Lime-Sulfur or Amitraz dips. These dips will be repeated for six to eight weeks. Ivermectin can also be used to treat Cheyletiellosis, either orally or given as an injection. Some common flea treatments such as Imidaloprid (Advantage) and Selamecin (Revolution) have also been safely used to treat Cheyletiellosis.
You will also need to wash your pet’s bedding in hot water and treat it with an insecticide to get rid of mites and keep them from coming back. You can use insecticides designed to kill mites to treat your home for this kind of mange in dogs.
Treating ear mites is a little different from treating other forms of mites. You will need to remove any discharge from your dog’s ears before treatment. The discharge will prevent any medication from reaching the source of the problem. Your veterinarian can show you how to safely remove the discharge without harming your dog. Your veterinarian will prescribe an ear mite medication and you can place drops in your dog’s ears several times per day for a couple of weeks until the mites are gone. Tresaderm is frequently prescribed to kill the mites.