Mange is a skin disease typically seen in stray, neglected, or abused dogs. Derived from a French word which means “to eat or itch,” mange is a skin infection characterized by bald patches of skin covered in inflamed sores or dried crusts, and affected dogs often appear to suffer from pain, as well as to be in poor health. Read on to learn about how to get rid of mange in dogs.
What causes mange?
Mange is caused by mites and can affect other animals aside from dogs — even humans. Mange in dogs can be caused by one of two kinds of mites: Sarcoptes scabiei, which causes sarcoptic mange or scabies; or Demodex canis, which causes demodectic mange or demodex/red mange.
The mite that causes sarcoptic mange is circular in shape and has eight legs. This type of mange, also known as canine scabies, is highly contagious; the parasite is transmitted through direct contact with an infected dog or any surface where he may have scratched off some mites. Humans can also pick up the parasites, but they don’t develop scabies as the mites only thrive on canine hosts.
Symptoms of scabies may appear any time between 10 days and 8 weeks after a dog has become infected. Early symptoms usually appear around the ears, on the chest, belly, elbow, and hocks; these symptoms include:
- Severe itching
- Hair loss
- Thick and yellow crusts
- Secondary infections, particularly yeast and bacterial infections
- In advanced cases:
- Thickened skin
- Inflamed lymph nodes
The disease can quickly spread and progress to the advanced stage if not treated immediately.
The mite that causes demodex or red mange is cigar-shaped, and naturally occurs as part of a dog’s skin flora; the parasite is not transmitted to humans. This mite is found in the hair follicles and typically harmless; the population is kept in check by a healthy immune system. Demodex usually develops in dogs with a weakened immune system, which allows the mites to grow out of control.
Juvenile onset demodex occurs in puppies that inherit a compromised immune system and is often a serious condition. Mild and localized demodex may develop in healthy dogs, but is usually easily treatable or goes away on its own. Other susceptible groups with a weakened immune system include senior dogs; dogs with cancer, diabetes, or another serious disease; neglected or abused dogs; and strays. Symptoms of demodectic mange include:
- Localized patches of hair loss and red and scaly skin.
- Almost complete or complete hair loss combined with widespread redness, scaling, crusts, swelling, and infections.
How to get rid of mange in dogs
Whether it’s sarcoptic or demodectic mange, it’s important that you have your canine pal checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. The condition can quickly become worse if left untreated; if you have other pets, they can also become infected. With proper and timely treatment, your dog can fully recover his good health.
Upon confirmation of the condition, treatment will normally include hair clipping to get easier access to the skin for treatment. Your vet will most likely prescribe a medicated shampoo, which you’ll use to bathe Fido once a week; a topical application to kill the mites; and an oral medication, which may be necessary if a secondary infection has already developed or the mange has already progressed to an advanced stage.
To help manage the severe itching and pain, if the latter is present, you can ask your vet about alternative remedies.
An oatmeal bath is known to help soothe itchy and irritated skin. You will simply add powdered oats to your dog’s bath water, and let him soak up the solution for at least 15 minutes. Find out from your vet if you can give Fido an oatmeal bath in between his weekly medicated baths. You can also make an oatmeal paste and use it as a topical treatment.
Alternatively, you can use green tea in place of powdered oatmeal. Again, seek your vet’s advice before trying this alternative remedy. In addition to its soothing effect, green tea also has potent antibacterial properties.
If your dog is experiencing some pain, bring up the possibility of giving him CBD oil when you consult with your vet. Good quality, hemp-derived CBD oil has been shown by numerous anecdotal evidence and some early studies to have potential in providing relief from pain. Just make sure that the CBD oil is derived from hemp and that it contains less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, and which is toxic to dogs and other animals).
When diagnosed and treated early, mange can be effectively eradicated and your dog can fully recover. Remember to follow and complete your dog’s course of treatment to ensure that you get rid of all the parasites, and especially if he has also developed a secondary bacterial or fungal infection.
If you have other pets and you suspect that Fido has mites, you should have all your animals checked by the vet. You will also need to thoroughly clean and disinfect your home.