What is Mange in Dogs?
Mange in dogs is an infectious skin disease in dogs which is caused by various species of parasitic mites. The term acariasis also pertains to the infestation of mites, but the word ‘mange’ is specifically used when referring to the mite infestation in domestic animals such as dogs.
This skin disease may affect any and all breeds of dog, regardless of gender or age. It also does not prefer any specific weather or time of the year as the mites can infest dogs whatever the season is and cause severe itching and discomfort to the dog. The mites that cause mange in dogs are very contagious that they can even infect humans.
What causes mange in dogs?
There are three species of parasitic mites that commonly infect dogs. Sarcoptic mange, or more popularly known as canine scabies, is brought about by the infestation of Sarcoptes scabei; walking dandruff or cheyletiellosis is due to the Cheyletiella yasguri; while the Demodex canis causes demodex or demodicosis.
Sarcoptic mange and cheyletiellosis are generally acquired from animal shelters, dog kennels, dog grooming facilities and other places that dogs usually frequent. Demodex canis, on the other hand, are normal dwellers of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles of dogs. Only when the mites have become overpopulated and the dog’s immune system could no longer cope with the infestation that demodicosis occurs.
Caused by the infestation of the sarcoptes mites of the different skin layers of the dog, this type of mange in dogs is characterized by hair loss, constant scratching, and self trauma due to the intense itchiness resulting from the irritating substances released by the mites. The condition gets aggravated as the mites reproduce within the skin layers. This leads to lack of appetite, loss of weight, disinterest in playing and other activities, violent behavior, depression, and severe hair loss, among other behavioral and physical changes. The body parts most commonly affected is the outer ears, chest, elbows, hind legs, abdomen and groin. People can get infected with sarcoptic mange.
Like the sarcoptic mange, cheyletiellosis is likewise very infectious and can also be passed on to humans. Though it most commonly affects the back of the dog, it can infect other parts of the dog’s body as well. Also called walking dandruff, this type of mange in dogs displays significant skin scaling and may or may not feel itchy. The parasitic mites that cause this disease do not burrow deep into the skin layers, thereby not causing extreme irritation to the skin.
Demodex or demodicosis is marked by hair loss that comes in patches. These patches, which can be found all throughout the body or in specific areas only, are characterized by thickened, crusty, scaly and oily skin. This type of mange in dogs usually does not itch but secondary infections caused by bacteria typically occur when the mites grow in number in the hair follicles.
What are the symptoms of mange in dogs?
When these parasitic mites start to invade the dog’s skin, scratching, hair loss and intense itching, especially in the case of sarcoptic mange and cheyletiellosis, could be observed. These signs and symptoms are most prevalent on the elbows, arms, back of the hind legs, ears, groin, chest and belly since the parasitic mites choose to invade the non-hairy regions of the body.
When mange in dogs is not treated promptly, the following can ensue:
- Pustules on the skin (red bumps with puss within)
- Acute skin infections
- Thick, dark leathery skin on the infected site
- Secondary bacterial infections on the wounds that arose from intense scratching
When the dog has suffered from this skin disease for a long period of time, he will become depressed, uninterested in food and in his usual activities, aggressive, and lose weight, to name a few. The skin on the affected area will also turn dry, stiff, cracked and suffer hair loss. In worst cases, the skin itself could even slough off bit by bit.
How can mange in dogs be treated?
Treatments for mange in dogs vary depending on the species of mite that caused it.
Since this type of mange is generally not contagious between dogs as transmission is only between the mother and pup during suckling, dogs with demodicosis do not need to be separated from other dogs. Furthermore, pups usually outgrow this disease once their immune systems develop. If demodicosis recurs, Ivermectin is prescribed until two skin scrapings that show negative results are obtained.
Sarcoptic mange and cheyletiellosis treatment
Unlike demodicosis, a dog infected with these types must be isolated from other dogs. The places where he frequents as well as his beddings must be cleaned meticulously. Treatment methods for this type include oral medications, shampoos and topical therapies which could entail more than a month of administration for the treatment to be successful. If there are secondary bacterial infections, drugs to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and fight bacteria are prescribed as well. Also, other pets in the area should be treated too even if they don’t show signs of the disease.
Mange in dogs can be successfully treated as long as the treatment protocol is religiously followed. The pet owner should not take the treatment plan for granted as this could mean re-infestation and more suffering for the dog.
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