Mange is a skin disease that manifests when an abundance of parasitic mites embed in a dog’s hair or skin follicles. These microscopic parasites are actually normal to find in small numbers on a dog's body, and mites are often passed between mothers and young puppies. But if mites start to spread uncontrollably, or a new species of invasive mites finds their way onto your dog, mange will occur.
Learn how to recognize signs of overactive mites taking residence on your pup, and what treatment options are available for mange in dogs.
Causes of Mange in Dogs
Mange occurs when an overabundance of mites is present, or when a dog comes in contact with an invasive species of mite. The two most common types of mange in dogs are demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange, which have different causes.
- Demodectic Mange: This type of mange appears when a dog's immune system is unable to keep mites under control. Mites begin to overpopulate and cause skin issues. Most dogs are immune to typical mites, but mange takes hold when they are unable to fight off mite populations. For puppies under two years old, it may simply be due to a newer, weak immune system that will eventually build up immunity over time. For older dogs, evidence of mange could be due to factors affecting their immune systems such as hormonal imbalances, cancer, or changes due to old age.
- Sarcoptic Mange: This type of mange is caused by burrowing mites known as canine scabies, or Sarcoptes. These mites are closely related to spiders. Dogs come in contact with them on other dogs or hosts, or infested areas. Once the Sarcoptes mites mate, the females burrow into your dog’s skin and leave behind a trail of eggs that hatch between three to ten days later.
Symptoms of Mange
Symptoms of mange will depend on the type of mite affecting your pup.
Symptoms of Demodectic Mange Include:
Demodectic mange can be generalized (occurring throughout the body), localized (to one area), and can also develop as mange of the paws. Symptoms of dogs with localized demodectic mange arise in one area -- you may find a few bald spots or other symptoms around your pet’s face, trunk, elbows, or legs. Generalized mange crops up in multiple areas.
Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange Include:
- persistent itching
Symptoms of this type of mange generally show up a week after exposure. The mite’s motion in and on the skin is extremely itchy. Dogs often scratch at sores, opening them up to bacteria and infection. Sarcoptic mange may first be localized to ears, elbows, face, abdomen, or legs, and then spread out quickly to your pet's entire body.
Treatment for Mange in Dogs
Your veterinarian may diagnose mange via skin scrapings, by examining hair follicles, or through a urine test. Once mange has been diagnosed, your vet will discuss what treatment options are available to help clear up the infestation. For many dogs, localized mange will resolve on its own. Your pet may also be prescribed topical or oral medication.
Your vet will follow up any treatment plan with two more rounds of skin scrapes. After the second consecutive diagnosis comes back infection-free, the treatment plan will be discontinued. Be sure to wash or remove any bedding or toys that may be infested, and check on other pets that were in contact with an infected dog.
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