What is Sarcoptic Mange?
Sarcoptic mange, often referred to as canine scabies is caused by parasitic mites known as Sarcoptes scabiei. While sarcoptic mange can affect cats, it is not common, and the condition is more frequent in dogs. Unlike demodectic mange which occurs in pets with weakened immune systems, the mites causing sarcoptic mange can invade the skin of any healthy pet causing a number of skin problems.
These unwanted mites burrow into the surface areas of the skin of your pet where the lay their eggs and live out their short life span of 3-4 weeks. This movement and presence of foreign bodies on the skin causes itchiness, skin inflammation and skin allergies which causes your pet great discomfort. As a result pets become severely itchy and the constant scratching that follows results in hair loss and damage to the skin.
As mites prefer to live on areas of the body with the least hair, the first areas to be affected are usually the elbows, ears, armpits, chest, and belly. However, as the infestation gets worse, it can spread over the entire body. In addition to hair-loss, your pet may also develop painful lesions that ooze and scab and secondary infections and quickly develop if the condition is not treated.
This type of mite predominantly lives on dogs, although it can affect other animals such as cats and may even affect humans. While these mites cannot live on humans for very long, they can cause itchiness and a rash that lasts for about three weeks. If however, the affected pet remains untreated, it can continue to infect the people it comes in contact with.
What Causes Sarcoptic Mange?
Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious and can be easily spread between one infected pet to another. The mites involved can also survive off its host and live in the environment for several days, in cool moist areas. As a result, your pet can contract mites by simply coming into contact with an infected area.
Diagnosing Sarcoptic Mange
Sarcoptic mange is a serious skin conditions that should not be left to get out of control. If you suspect your pet may have sarcoptic mange then we suggest a trip to the vet where a diagnosis can be made and other conditions ruled out. The problem with diagnosing sarcoptic mange is that skin scrapings aren’t always accurate, and in general, they only detect mange in 20% of infected dogs. Diagnosis is therefore often made on history, symptoms and response to scabies treatment.
Help for Sarcoptic Mange
Treating your infected pet for sarcoptic mange is often not enough to get rid of all the mites and prevent re-infection. As the mites can survive in the environment for a number of days all pet bedding, brushes, and collars, as well as carpeting and upholstered surfaces should be sprayed with a suitable insecticide.
Conventional treatments of sarcoptic mange usually take the form of chemical based lotions, dips and shampoos. While dips were the most common treatment in the past, they pose a number of problems. They are generally not suitable for young dogs, need to be used with great caution around the face area and may pose health risks and side effects for both the pets being treated as well as people treating them.
Other topical products often used for treating mange include amitraz, ivermectin, selamectin and common flea-prevention products. It must be noted that many of these treatments contain harsh chemicals that may cause side-effects for your pet.
Ivermectin for example, should never be used in Collies or Shetland sheep dogs as some herding dogs have a sensitive reaction to this drug which could be fatal. In some cases, antibiotics are prescribed to treat secondary yeast or bacterial infections caused by the sarcoptic mange.
Treating your pet for sarcoptic mange need not involve harsh chemicals and the side-effects they cause. There are natural alternatives which are equally effective without the risks involved in many conventional treatments. Garlic is one such ingredient which has become well known for its natural repellent properties.
Garlic is often used to protect pets from fleas, mange, and other parasites and it also contains useful antibiotic properties which help fight the secondary infections so often present in pets with mange. Wormwood is another ingredient that can be used successfully to help treat sarcoptic mange. Used for centuries as a natural parasite repellant, Wormwood is frequently used to rid pets of mange, worms and ear mites.
Neem and Lemongrass also act as natural insecticides and their natural skin healing properties help to soothe irritated skin and promote healing. Lastly, the herbal ingredient Niaoli works as an antiseptic, and helps to cleanse and heal the skin.