Much like people, dogs can also be a victim of skin conditions that make them visibly uncomfortable. And, while most dogs have enough fur to protect their sensitive skin from the elements and other foreign bodies, unfortunately, it is not 100% effective.
If you notice that your dog is relentlessly itching, scratching, and even losing fur, there are a number of potential causes for their discomfort, but a condition you want to be sure to keep an eye out for is mange.
Here, we discuss what mange is, its symptoms, how to combat it, and preventative tips.
What is mange?
As described by the American Kennel Club, mange is a skin disorder that is caused by mites that irritate the skin that can affect both dogs and humans. Unfortunately, there are also two types that can be found in dogs known as sarcoptic and demodectic.
Also known as scabies, sarcoptic mange is caused by the eight-legged sarcoptic mite and is a skin disease that is highly contagious.
Although it is not known to be as serious in non-canine hosts, it can easily be transmitted from dog to dog and even dog to human.
With sarcoptic mange, the female mites lay eggs in the host’s skin; the eggs hatch in about three weeks and begin to burrow into the flesh. If a dog has this kind of mange, it is highly suggested that they are quarantined until treated.
On the other hand, demodectic mange is not typically as serious as sarcoptic mange (scabies) but is still not to be taken lightly. In demodectic mange, the demodectic mites infest a dog’s skin and hair follicles.
However, if the dog is already sick or old, these mites can overwhelm a canine’s immune system, resulting in itching and hair loss. Thankfully, this type of mange is not contagious and is usually easily treated.
Like people, dogs get itchy and scratch to relieve themselves all the time. So, just because you see that your dog is itching itself or more than usual, it does not mean that they have mange.
Nevertheless, there are some key symptoms to keep an eye on to help detect mange if you notice your dog’s skin is becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
PetMD states that the top three clinical signs of sarcoptic mange include severe itching, self-inflicted wounds (from itching), and hair loss.
Raised bumps known as papules can also be found on less fur-dense areas of the body such as ankles, elbows, and armpits, although the mites infest the whole body.
Furthermore, as a result of extreme discomfort, a dog with sarcoptic mange may also experience decreased appetite, depression, and become lethargy. It is also not unusual for weight loss to occur, as the dog spends so much of its energy fighting off discomfort to no avail.
For the most part, demodectic mange is a much less noticeable skin infection than its sarcoptic counterpart. This is primarily because the demodectic mites irritate the dog’s hair follicles and not the actual skin.
Also, demodectic mange begins much more subtly than sarcoptic mange in terms of a dog’s level of itch with some small areas of hair loss.
However, puppies with demodectic mange, also known as “red mange” may develop scaly bald spots near the lips, head, and front legs.
Mange treatment options
Thankfully, treatment for mange in dogs is not only possible but usually successful.
And while treatment options and methods may vary depending on the severity of the skin infection, breed of dog, age, overall health, and more, it is suggested by Canine Journal that a licensed veterinarian should oversee the process.
Because demodectic mange is not as severe as sarcoptic mange, the treatment process for the infection is far less complicated or involved.
For the most part, the underlying cause of this type of mange is a weakened immune system, which is the first thing that is addressed.
Sometimes, a veterinarian may prescribe medication until the infection goes away or suggest a change in the dog’s diet and other suggestions to help reduce stress.
If your dog is unfortunate enough to have sarcoptic mange, the recovery process is far more intense. Typically, dogs will need to be washed in scabicidal shampoo once a week for 4-6 weeks by a veterinarian.
Medication will also be prescribed, although it can vary depending on the type of dog, its reaction to certain medications, and more.
Additionally, although the dog may stay at your house during its treatment, because of the contagious nature of sarcoptic mange, it should be quarantined from other pets and people.
However, it is imperative that you try to keep your dog as comfortable as possible during this time.
All in all, there is no true guaranteed prevention, although there are several things you can do as an owner to decrease your dog’s chances of contracting it. These include:
- Practicing good hygiene
- Boosting your dog’s immune system
- Knowing your dog’s whereabouts
- Avoiding all contact with infected humans or animals
By taking these things into consideration, you can drastically decrease your dog’s likelihood of getting mange.
Not only can this help prevent the suffering of your pet but can also save you time, money, and the headache that comes along with it.
Furthermore, if you do know that your dog has mange and spreads it to other pets or animals, according to the lawyers at Gary C. Johnson, this could be seen as an act of negligence and leave you legally responsible for damage to another individual’s property.
Mange is a terrible skin condition caused by mites that brings great discomfort to any dog that may contact them.
Although there are two types that differ in severity, it is always essential to take your dog to a professional upon the first sign of your dog’s discomfort or any health problems.
The quicker they are diagnosed, the quicker they can be treated, and the less painful the process will be for all the parties involved.
Alana Redmond is a content writer who specializes in law and consumer safety. She also works with Casey Garey Law, a San Diego law firm specializing in dog bite injuries.