What is Mange in Dogs?
21 February, 2017
As in humans, there are many different types of skin allergies and ailments in dogs. Mange is one of the more severe types of skin diseases and usually needs to be treated by a veterinarian. Mange is an inflammatory disease caused by various types of the Demodex mite.
When this type of mite inhabits the hair follicles and skin of the dog, it can lead to skin lesions, genetic disorders, problems with the immune system and hair loss. The severity of symptoms depends upon the type of mite inhabiting the dog.
Symptoms and types of Mange
Mange may either be localized and affect specific areas of the body, or generalized, where it affects the entire body.
Localized demodectic mange occurs when mites infest just a few small areas of a dog’s body – usually the face. This condition is common in puppies and the vast majority of cases resolve on their own.
Generalized demodectic mange involves large areas of skin or can even take over your dog’s whole body. This condition brings with it secondary bacterial infections that cause intense itching and a foul odor. These symptoms include a redness of the skin and the appearance of scales and lesions. In both cases, it is recommended to take your dog to the veterinarian for a diagnosis.
The toughest to cure of the three types is often demodectic pododermatitis. This type of mange is confined to the foot and creates a bacterial infection.
How to diagnose for Mange
Skin scrapings are used to find and diagnose Mange in dogs. Plucking hairs may also help identify the mite responsible for the condition.
If performed, a urine test will identify other possible diagnoses, namely those caused by a disorder with the dog’s metabolic system. Alternative diagnoses may include bacterial infection in the hair follicle.
If localized, the problem is likely to resolve itself and disappear spontaneously, which happens in approximately ninety percent of cases. For severe generalized cases, long-term medication may be necessary to control the condition. Lime-sulfur dips to the affected areas may help relieve symptoms of Mange. In either case, the general health of the dog should be evaluated by a blood test.
Unfortunately, some of these dips often cause a number of harmful side effects, including: restlessness, CNS signs, tremors, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and a decrease in body temperature.
Other medications may be prescribed as well, taken orally or by injection, via topical application or shampoo. All these treatments involve chemicals that can cause side effects.
Some natural remedies if the Mange is not too serious
Your dog may or may not need to be dipped in strong chemicals or receive other potentially toxic therapies, depending on the severity of the infestation and the success of other, less caustic treatments, which might include:
Vitamins and other dietary supplements, including omega 3 fats, to help relieve itching, improve the condition of your dog’s skin, and support his immune function.
Tea tree shampoo (avoid soaps/shampoos containing oatmeal)
Lyme-sulfur dip (all-natural, but incredibly stinky)
Topical remedies like garlic, Neem and lavender oil, and other soothing and healing herbs.
Once the Mange has been treated, it is also necessary to follow-up with your veterinarian to see if the mites have diminished. Your vet will usually take skin scrapings to monitor the presence of mites and check the treatment’s progress. With chronic long-term cases, regular medication may be necessary. Again, your veterinarian will be able to determine the proper care.
While an exact cause of mange in dogs is unknown, many experts believe that genetic factors, such as problems with the pup’s immune system, may predispose a dog to developing mange. Therefore, if the mother can be identified as having Mange, it would be best to spay the mother to prevent more litters of puppies with Mange.
If you keep your dog healthy and feed him a well-balanced diet, and keep up with annual veterinarian visits, your dog will be less likely to develop Mange. And, of course, if you observe any skin sensitivity or over-itching, make sure to go see your veterinarian right away.
Because the immune system does not mature until twelve to eighteen months of age, a dog with demodectic mange may have relapses until that age. It is important to treat as soon as a relapse occurs to minimize the possibility of developing uncontrollable problems.