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How Do Dogs Get Mange?

How Do Dogs Get Mange?

Mange is a common skin disease in dogs. It’s especially common in stray dogs or dogs that are neglected and abused. Their coat lacks hair in some places, while in others it’s thickened, hard or has some crusty patches. Their skin often seems as if it has turned to stone. But how do dogs get mange? And how can we protect or precious pets from catching this uncomfortable and not pleasantly looking disease?

To learn more about mange in dogs, keep reading this article.

What is mange?

Mange is a skin disease that is caused my mites. The name comes from the French word “mangeue”, which translates to “to eat or to itch”. Mange is caused by different types of mites. It can affect humans and animals.

When we’re talking about mange in dogs, there are to types. However, they are caused by different types of mites.

The two types are:

  1. Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies)
  2. Demodectic Mange (Red mange or Demodex)

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange is also referred to as scabies. The disease is caused by a circular-shaped, eight-legged mite called the Sarcoptes scabiei. This form of mange is highly contagious. It’s easily transmitted from dog to dog and it can pass even to humans. However, Sarcoptes scabiei prefers dogs as it’s host.

Female mites can burrow deep into the skin and lay their eggs. The eggs then develop during the next three weeks, and feed of their host’s skin.

Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange

Symptoms develop during the next 10 days to 8 weeks after infection. The first sign of a infection are margins on the ears, chest, belly and elbows. Untreated, this disease spreads very quickly. The most common symptoms of sacroptic mange include:

  1. Itchiness
  2. Rashes and redness
  3. A thick yellow crust on the skin
  4. Hair loss
  5. Yeast and bacteria infection on the skin
  6. Enlarged lymph nodes

How to diagnose Sarcoptic Mange?

To diagnose sarcoptic mange, a veterinarian has to take a skin sample and look under a microscope for the presence of eggs and mites. However, in some cases the skin samples may appear to be clean from mites. Even if the symptoms strongly suggest that there is an infestation. That’s why it’s important to take more than just one sample.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange, or demodex, is caused by a cigar-shaped mite called Demodex canis. Contrary to Sarcoptic Mange, the mite causing this disease is a normal part of the skin flora. It’s always present on the skin and in most cases completely harmless.

It’s passed to dogs from their mother just a few days after birth. However, unlike Sarcoptic mange it’s not contagious to humans.

The mites reside deep in the hair follicles, and in most cases – cause absolutely no harm. Our normal immune system keeps them in check from causing trouble. However, if a dog’s immune system is weakened — mange grow out of control.

Dogs that are at risk from developing demodex are:

  1. Dogs with inherently weaker immune systems

This condition causes for dogs to be particularly prone to develop a more serious form of demodex. It’s also known as juvenile onset, as it affects dogs while they are still puppies. However, young and healthy dogs may still develop some patches of demodex. However, they can be easily treated topically.

  1. Old, sick, neglected or abandoned dogs

This types of dog can develop a weaker immune system due to bad nutrition or aging. Sick dogs, especially the ones with cancer or diabetes can also have a weaker immune system which then leads to mange development.

Symptoms of Demodectic Mange

Demodex can be localized and generalized.

If localized, it shows up as bald and red patches on the skin.

In generalized cases the entire body may be covered with redness, infections, scaling, swelling or crusts. The dog often loses most of its hair.

How to diagnose Demodectic Mange

Similarly to Sarcoptic Mange, a veterinarian will take a skin sample of your dog and analyze it under a microscope. Just like with Scabies, it’s advised to take more than one skin sample with Demodex as well.

How can you treat Mange in dogs?

Scabies and Demodex bot require professional treatment for skin healing and control of the mites. You can’t treat your dog yourself, expert guidance is needed.

Treatments include:

  1. Hair clipping
  2. Baths with medicated shampoos
  3. Topical treatment
  4. Oral treatments