Mange in Dogs
If you’re involved in rescue, you’ve probably seen sarcoptic mange far too frequently. While it’s a treatable disease, dogs with mange oftentimes have a difficult time getting adopted. It can be hard to see the beautiful dog that will emerge in just a few months. (To see before and after pictures of a dog with mange, click here and here).
What is sarcoptic mange?
Sarcoptic mange, or canine scabies, is a highly contagious skin disease caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. These mites burrow into the skin and cause severe itching and irritation. The intense itching causes the majority of the dog’s hair to fall out. While mange is treatable, it is highly contagious for other animals and even humans. A dog suffering from mange is advised to be kept in quarantine during treatment.
- Intense scratching
- Skin rash
- Crust formation in the affected area
- Hair loss
The most common cause of mange in dogs is through exposure to another infected animal. The mites move quickly from animal to animal so places with large amounts of dogs such as kennels, shelters, parks, and groomers have a high exposure rate. Generally, exposure occurs two to six weeks before the dog shows the first symptoms of mange.
First, your vet will want to rule out any food allergies, chiggers, or bacterial infections of the skin. Your vet will then conduct a physical examination to identify what has embedded itself into your dog’s skin. In the case of mange, mites will be found.
Your dog will most likely be treated with scabicide, a drug that kills the mite. In some cases, a scabicidal shampoo dip will be done in order to kill the mites currently living in the skin. Much like treating for fleas, ongoing treatment is necessary as the eggs will take time to hatch and most treatments do not kill the eggs.
Mange treatment should always been done under the supervision of a veterinarian to ensure your dog’s entire body is being successful treated and all mites eliminated. The severity of the mange will determine the intensity of treatment. Some dogs will have to continue the scabicidal shampoo dip on a weekly basis to successfully kill the mites.
Since mange is highly contagious, the dog should be restricted from contact from other animals. It is also important to limit your own contact with the dog. If a person does come into contact with a dog suffering from mange, a purplish rash on the arms, chest, or abdomen may be seen. Once the dog is successfully treated, the rash should diminish as well.
In order to prevent the reoccurrence of mange, it’s important to ensure your dog has a healthy immune system. This means keeping your dog as comfortable as possible during treatment – a regular feeding schedule and a comfortable place to sleep.
Unfortunately, there are currently no known preventative measure for sarcoptic mange.
While mange can really impact the appearance of a dog, it’s important to keep an open mind about the future. With treatment, the dog will blossom into the stunning dog he was meant to be 🙂
Have you ever had a dog who has suffered from mange?