You’re spending quality time with your dog at the park when you notice that he keeps scratching and licking his fur.
It’s unfortunately not an isolated incident because you then notice that as the symptoms continue, your dog starts losing some of its fur because it can’t stop grooming and scratching. You might not realize it but your dog could have a health condition called mange.
What, exactly, is mange?
Mange is a skin condition that’s highly contagious but can be treated successfully. That said, it can wind up being serious. That’s why it’s so important to nip it in the bud as early as possible.
Mange occurs as a result of mite infestation. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about mange and how to protect you dog.
- Types Of Mange
- How To Tell Your Dog Has Mange
- How Should You Treat The Two Types Of Mange?
- When Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet?
- Home Remedies For Mange
- How You Can Prevent Mange
- Related Questions
Types Of Mange
Your dog could get two types of mange:
This skin condition is caused by infestations of a mite called demodex that creeps into your dog’s hair follicles and skin.
Since your dog’s immune system is working hard to try to fight off these mites, he or she might experience symptoms such as intense itching, skin inflammation, and hair loss.
The good thing about demodectic mange is that it’s not contagious. It’s also usually really easy to treat. It’s most commonly seen in dogs that are old and sick.
This mange infection is caused by a mite called sarcoptes scabiei. As its name suggests, it’s the same type of mite that can cause human scabies.
When these mites dig into the skin, it causes the dog to feel very itchy. Loss of fur can also occur because the dog will scratch and chew its fur a lot. This type of mange is very contagious – it won’t only be transferred to other dogs but humans, too. However, it is treatable.
How To Tell Your Dog Has Mange
Whether your dog has demodectic or sarcoptic mange, it will present with common symptoms. These include:
- Redness or rash
- Hair loss
- Scabby, scaly, or crusty skin
If your dog has demodectic mange, other symptoms he or she might experience include the entire body being covered with scaling, swelling, and redness.
If your dog has sarcoptic mange, you’ll probably also notice other symptoms, such as extreme itchiness, redness, and crusty skin that begins on the ears, chest, hocks, belly, and elbows.
Your dog might also have bacteria or yeast infections. In advanced stages of the infection, your dog might experience skin thickening or lymph node inflammation.
How Should You Treat The Two Types Of Mange?
Treatment for mange will vary a little depending on the type of mange that your dog has. Your vet will want to do a skin scraping test to diagnose mange and also see what type of mange is at play so that the best treatment can be administered.
How Demodectic Mange Is Treated
The great news about demodectic mange is that it sometimes clears up without needing any treatment. If your dog’s got a more serious case, then medication will be administered. This will help to treat the itching, and your vet might give your dog a lime-sulfur dip for this purpose.
The important thing about demodectic mange is that it can be a red flag that reveals your dog has a weak immune system because of how it’s been overwhelmed by the mites.
Therefore, the vet might also want to check for any underlying health conditions that could be making your dog’s immune system less strong than it should be.
How Sarcoptic Mange Is Treated
If your dog has sarcoptic mange, your vet will probably prescribe a scabicidal shampoo.
The tricky thing about treating mites is that they can become immune to various medications, so the process of eliminating sarcoptic mange in your dog will probably require a bit of trial and error. In addition to the shampoo, your dog might also be given a topical or oral medication from the vet.
Since sarcoptic mange is so contagious, your dog will have to be quarantined during treatment. That means that he or she won’t be allowed to come into contact with people or other dogs.
Of course, you’ll have to look after your dog during this time so it’s important to take the proper health precautions. This includes washing your hands well with water and soap before and after dealing with your pet, as well as wearing gloves.
Make sure that you regularly clean your dog’s bedding and any other items that he or she has come into contact with, such as clothing or carpets.
Quarantining your dog can be stressful because it’s a huge change to its daily habits, and this can make your dog feel anxious, which isn’t good for your dog’s immune system. Therefore, try to spend a lot of quality time with your dog that’s filled with playtime to keep your dog’s spirits up.
When Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet?
If you notice the symptoms of mange, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. This is because other health conditions can have similar symptoms to mange, such as allergies, and you want your vet to get to the bottom of the issue that’s ailing your dog.
In addition, if the mange is highly contagious, you don’t want to leave it to run rampant in your dog because this could then affect other dogs as well as cause you to contract the condition.
There are also some complications that can occur in dogs with mange. Bacterial and fungal infections can strike as a result of your dog’s intense itching and scratching.
When your dog scratches his skin so much, this can cause infections, which will need to be treated with antifungal or antibiotic medications.
Home Remedies For Mange
If you want to try home remedies for your dog’s mange, you should know that these can sometimes have drawbacks attached to them. Let’s explore some popular mange home remedies and if they’re worth trying.
Applying a thin layer of olive oil to the area of your dog’s skin that’s itching can help to relieve symptoms and even kill mites. However, it’s not useful for treating larger areas of infection. It’s also not good for your dog to ingest the olive oil as this can cause intestinal issues.
Again, this is only a home remedy to try if your dog is experiencing a small, localized infection. Yogurt can help to cool the skin, thus providing relief for itchiness. Since it’s thick, a layer of yogurt will also work to smother mites on your dog’s body.
You should avoid using home remedies without the approval of your vet. This is because some of these remedies can be unsafe for your dog and could even make the infection’s side effects worse.
Examples include the use of lemon to treat mange, as it can dry out the dog’s skin, which could make itching worse.
It should go without saying that Borax, a laundry detergent, should never be used to treat dog mange. It’s extremely toxic if ingested and can make your dog’s skin dry and irritated.
When it comes to home remedies, it’s also important to remember that many of them have not been evaluated enough for their effectiveness in treating mange, which could lead to complications in your pet or prolong their distress.
How You Can Prevent Mange
You can’t always prevent your dog from falling prey to mange, but there are two things you should always do.
- Make sure your dog is spayed or neutered. Although it may cost around $200 to neuter your dog, it will to prevent your dog from passing a genetic predisposition to the disease onto its puppies.
- Boost your dog’s immune system. A healthy immune system will find it easier to fight off the infection. You can do this by feeding your dog a nutritious diet, deworming your dog according to your vet’s recommendations, and ensuring that your dog doesn’t experience stress. This is especially important if your dog is susceptible to becoming anxious and stressed.
What is Cheyletiella yasguri, and is it mange?
How long will mange last?
Approximately 90 percent of healthy, young pets who have localized infections will be back to normal within two months, but it could take longer if your pet’s old, has a weak immune system, or has a generalized infection.
While the idea of your dog having mange is scary, especially if its sarcoptic in nature, it can be treated effectively. As we’ve seen in this article, there are also important things you can do to keep your dog’s skin and immune system healthy.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.