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Mange in Dogs

Learn the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of mange in dogs.

Mange is a skin condition in dogs. It's fairly common, especially in puppies and strays.

Two Types of Mange

While it's common for people to refer to any condition that causes hair loss and crusty lesions on dogs as mange, the word refers to mite infestation. There are two types of mites that commonly infect dogs.

Sarcoptic mange, or scabies, is caused by Sarcoptes scabei mites, and this parasite is quite contagious between dogs and from dogs to humans. Scabies mites burrow into the skin to lay eggs, which hatch in just under a month. The baby mites use the host's skin for food. Scabies often causes hair loss and secondary infection of the skin on the ears, chest, elbows, and belly. It can spread over the entire body and the dog is typically extremely itchy. Eventually, the skin thickens and develops yellow crusting. Learn more: "Scabies in Dogs."

Demodectic mange, or demodex, is caused by Demodex canis, which are normal inhabitants of the skin. They only cause a problem if a dog's immune system isn't fully developed or is weakened by another condition. Then, the mites flourish and overpopulate, causing patchy hair loss and red, scaly skin. Learn more: "Demodicosis: Demodex in Dogs."

The two types of mites are quite different, with different causes, but sometimes the signs can appear similar.

Diagnosis of Mange in Dogs

If a dog is showing signs that could be attributed to mange, the veterinarian will perform a skin scraping to look under the microscope for scabies or demodex mites. A skin scraping is a non-invasive, non-painful procedure in which the vet uses a small blade to scrape some skin cells onto a microscope slide.

If the doctor finds the mites in the sample, he or she can attribute the skin problem to them. Sometimes, mites can be difficult to find.

Other conditions that cause hair loss, scratching, and skin scaling may also be on the doctor's mind, and he or she could run other tests to look for those things.

One thing to keep in mind is that scabies is contagious and zoonotic (humans can get it from their animal) and demodex is not.

Treatment of Mange in Dogs

First, the condition must be properly diagnosed. From there, several treatments may be used, including dips (medicated baths), topical medication directly on the skin, and oral or injectable medications.

Secondary skin infection may also need to be treated with oral antibiotics, shampoo, or anti-fungal medications.

Note: Some medications for mange can have side effects, both for your dog and you (in the case of dips), so be sure you know all the signs to watch for and precautions to take before embarking on a course of treatment.

Follow-up skin scrapings help determine when to stop treatment.

Some dogs with demodex are difficult to treat because of the underlying immune-modulating condition.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Skin Scraping Test in Dogs

Dealing With Canine Scratching and Licking

Scabies in Dogs

Demodicosis: Demodex Mites in Dogs

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