It’s not easy being a dog in a dog-eat-dog world. Now, add to that a skin disease that makes you itch like crazy and it will make you question your entire existence.
Dog mange is a terrible skin disease that is as contagious as they come. It occurs when certain types of mites dig into the dog’s skin and make it itchy. Since it is important to treat dog mange as soon as possible, let’s understand its causes, symptoms, and diagnosis.
- Sarcoptic mange or scabies
In scabies, sarcoptic scabiei burrow into a dog’s skin, marking their territory under the poor creature’s fur. Over time, the dog’s skin turns dry and flaky, which is said to be caused by the constant itching.
Dogs infected with scabiei tend to experience excessive pain and develop hair loss patches throughout the body. Since scabies can occur in dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes, it is difficult to identify who would get infected.
- Yellow, crusty skin
- Bacterial infection
- Thickened skin
- Loss of hair
It is usually tricky to diagnose sarcoptic mange because the mites may not get caught under the microscope even if the symptoms are present. Therefore, veterinarians use their experience and instincts to confirm the presence of scabies.
- Demodectic mange or demodex
Named after the mite, demodex canis, which causes this type of mange, demodectic mange is a little less threatening than sarcoptic mange. The signs include itchiness, hair loss and constant fever that leaves the dog feeling extremely uncomfortable.
Unlike scabies, demodex is not contagious. It is transferred from the parents during the nursing stage. Since puppies don’t have a well-developed immune system during this period, demodectic mange may remain with the infected dogs for a while. However, this mange becomes more manageable once the puppies develop stronger immunity.
That said, the good news is that demodectic mange is largely treatable.
- Loss of hair
- Genetic influence
- Red and scaling skin
- Swollen and crusty skin
Veterinarians pluck out your dog’s hair to collect mites and determine the presence of demodectic mange. They also look for symptoms along with the skin samples because no one method is reliable enough.
- Notoedric mange or feline scabies
Although it is largely observed among cats, notoedric mange can affect dogs, too. It is similar to sarcoptic mange and exhibits almost identical symptoms. Notoedric mange can infect both dogs and human beings due to its contagious nature.
Starting from the ears and face, this mange continues to spread across the body till it infects all parts of the dog. Since notoedric mange is caused by mites belonging to the Sarcoptidae family, it affects the dogs exactly as scabies does. Therefore, the treatment is similar to that of scabies.
- Scratching and itchiness
- Redness and crusty skin
- Patchy hair loss or alopecia
Veterinarians usually rely on skin scraping tests and development of the case to determine the right treatment for notoedric mange.
3 ways to treat mange in dogs
Localized and generalized treatments of dog mange
Dog mange can last anywhere between one day to three weeks. In the cases of demodex, you can limit the treatment todemodectic mange ointments and essential oils. The ointments are useful in relieving the inflammation and pain induced by continuous skin irritation.
Alternatively, since scabies is a more critical condition, your vet might prescribe shampoos along with the medications to prevent bacterial infection.
Lime sulfur mix
Both lime and sulfur are potent antioxidants. They are used to treat bacterial, parasitical and fungal infections among all animals. Therefore, alime sulfur dip is an ideal treatment for scabies, where mites affect a dog’s skin and practically deteriorate it – sometimes, forever.
Being an organic formula, the lime sulfur dip is safe for dogs and does not cause any side effects. But it should always be used after proper dilution for best results. Mixing four ounces of the lime sulfur solution in one gallon of water is the ideal way of using the dip to treat dog mange.
It is possible for you not to have access to immediate medical assistance, so it is wise to have an alternative treatment as a backup.
Apple cider vinegar is revered as a powerful solution for most ailments. Being a rich source of acetic acid, you can use apple cider vinegar for its antiseptic properties. It helps you treat dog mange by healing the dog’s dry and crusty skin. Apple cider vinegar also allows you to restore the pH balance of the skin to speed up the recovery process.
Using lemon and warm water solution to clean the infected area is another way to effectively treat dog mange.
Can you prevent dog mange?
In most cases, dogs are able to combat mange simply because they have a great immune system. So, you must ensure that your pup’s immune system is strong enough to fight off minor diseases. With a balanced diet and regular maintenance, you can effectively prevent dog mange.
As a pet parent, you must also be mindful of where your dog socializes. Ensuring that your dog’s social circle includes pets who are clean and free of bacteria is one of the first steps towards preventing dog mange. Besides, brushing and cleaning your dog’s coat after every walk can easily help avoid fleas and worms, as well.
When to visit the veterinarian?
It is good to be on your toes when it comes to dog mange. The infection does not begin to appear suddenly. It’s a gradual process. Your dog can have mites even if you don’t easily see them.
Think you are smart? Mites are cleverer than us. They set up camp on your dog’s skin without you getting a whiff of it.
So, if you find your dog scratching uncontrollably, it may be time to visit a veterinarian. Since it is easier to treat dog mange when it is detected early, seeing a vet can help prevent any further damage. Besides, it never hurts to get a second opinion when it comes to your dog’s health, so avoid taking risks.