Mange in Dogs
You and Your Dog can Suffer from Mange
Have you noticed your dog looking like one poor mangy mutt with a patchy hair coat that keeps on scratching relentlessly a part of or its entire body that has become hairless and reddish? Then, your dog may be suffering from Mange.
Mange is a skin disease most popular in dogs and sometimes in cats. It is often manifested by areas which are reddened by severe itching and eventually hair loss. Most mange conditions do not affect the whole body, but areas affected with mange usually occurs on the lower limbs, eyes, and lips.
Mange is also commonly referred to by most dog owners as scabies. The characteristic lesions of mange are caused by different species of mites that usually burrow under the skin causing intense irritation, itching, and in chronic untreated cases, skin thickening.
The mites which are pointed to as the culprits of this very irritating disease includes the very small Sarcoptic mites which cannot be seen by our naked eye, the Demodectic mites and the large Cheyletiella mites which can easily be seen when you inspect closely the dog’s skin.
You can also get mange or scabies when you handle an infected animal. You may experience intense itching which is often worse at night in your arms, chest, wrists, waist, or any part of your body that has direct contact with the affected animal. But these mites cannot reproduce on your skin, so if you don’t have any further contact with the mangy animal, then the irritations and itchiness will just heal in two weeks or so.
Many breeds of dogs are at high risk of suffering from mange especially Demodectic mange. These breeds include Boxers, Pugs, German Shepherd Dogs, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers, Dalmatians, Dobermans, Afghan Hounds, Collies, American Pit Bulls, and Great Danes. There have been studies which have shown that Demodicosis is hereditary and some veterinarians recommend that males which have been diagnosed as having Demodicosis should be neutered so they don’t pass the gene that predisposes the condition.
An initial diagnosis is made based on the signs observed that includes localized or generalized areas of patchy hair loss, with scaly, reddened skin. There can also be small red lesions and intense itching.
It is highly advisable to bring your dog to your veterinarian once you see these signs. Your veterinarian can perform certain procedures to determine whether your dog is really suffering from Mange or not to confirm the initial diagnosis.
Generally, the veterinarian will do a thorough physical examination of your dog. He will also take a scab or scrape samples of the skin for further analysis. It is very important that the kind or mite affecting your dog must be known so that the proper treatment can be given. Your veterinarian will also get blood samples for analysis.
Once the results of the skin scrapings are out, and your dog has been diagnosed to have mites, then the veterinarian may recommend that your dog be isolated during the course of treatment until your dog is mite-free. This is a good precautionary measure to prevent your other dogs from getting mites.
Treatment for mange is much easier and manageable when it affects only a certain area (localized infection). The results of the tests done by your veterinarian will often determine the line of treatment that will be given. The type of mite and the severity of the lesions are very important factors to consider when making a decision on the course of treatment of the disease condition.
There are over-the-counter mite killers which your veterinarian might prescribe for mild conditions. These preparations which might either be in the form of solutions, powders or ointments can be applied by you. Just follow your veterinarian’s instructions to heal the skin disease and permanently get rid of the mites.
For moderate to severe conditions, veterinarians often use Ivermectin administered through weekly injections up to a period of four weeks. However, Ivermectin is contraindicated in Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, Shetland Sheepdogs and other herding breeds of dogs which do not tolerate the drug. Thus, when these dogs suffer from Mange, they are usually dipped or bathed in a Lime-Sulfur-mite insecticide solution after the part which has been affected has been shaved or clipped.
Cortisone ointments are also given to relieve the itching. The veterinarian usually prescribed antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infection of the skin lesions.
There are some home remedies for Mange which have been proven to be effective. But keep in mind that, unless you have a proper diagnosis, you can never be sure if your line of treatment is the best one you can give your pet. A visit to the veterinarian is still the best solution to your dog’s problem.
A few drops of lukewarm soapy water can be used to wash off the mites in the skin. You can also use the water to wash the living quarters of your dog so that when your dog is free from the mites, there will be chance of re-exposure.
Cooking oil can kill mites present in the skin of your dogs. A few drops that you apply on the areas with mange lesions can soften the waxy deposits or scabs present on the surface of the skin.
Nothing can beat good hygiene and sanitation to prevent diseases. Dogs with mange should be isolated and bathed as often as necessary. You should make extra effort to clean and disinfect your dog’s living quarters including its beddings and other objects that he has come in contact with. Don’t forget that you are also vulnerable to the physically disturbing effects of the mites.