Mange in Dogs

Information on the causes and symptoms of mange in dogs.

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  1. What is Mange?
  2. What Causes Mange?
  3. Diagnosing Mange
  4. Help for Mange
  5. More Information on Mange

What is Mange?

The word mange is derived from the Middle French word "mangene" which literally means itching. Mange is an unsightly and uncomfortable skin condition that is caused by a variety of mange mites. These little eight-legged parasites can become a serious problem for dogs as they live on and sometimes burrow into the skin causing a number of skin problems.

There are many different types of mange. Dog mange symptoms often include hair loss, skin inflammation irritation, and itchiness. In some cases the skin can become crusty and scabbed and may even ooze and crack.

The common types of canine mange include the following:
  • Sarcoptic Mange most frequently affects dogs and is often referred to as canine scabies. The mites responsible for this type of mange actually burrow into the skin of pets and cause severe itching and skin irritation. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious and tends to spread quickly if not treated.
  • Demodectic Mange is caused by mites that live in the hair follicles of most animals and they usually don’t cause a problem. However, if a pet has a compromised immune system, they can quickly over-populate and start causing skin irritation and hair loss. Demodectic mange is not contagious as most pets already have demodectic mites.
  • Cheyletiella mange / Walking Dandruff is caused by cheyletiella mites otherwise known as fur mites. These mites are larger than most mites and can actually be seen by the naked eye. The type of mange caused by these mites is often referred to a walking dandruff because the mites shed scales and flakes that resemble dandruff. If you examine an infected pet closely, you may even see these flakes moving as the mites crawl underneath them. In addition to dandruff, cheyletiella mange causes itchiness, slight hair loss and may cause thickening of the skin.

What Causes Mange?

As previously mentioned, mange is caused by a wide variety of mites. Some of these mites are highly contagious and can be easily transmitted when your pet comes into contact with an infected animal or is exposed to an infested area.

Many dogs contract mites from their mother shortly after birth or during socialization and training classes. Some types of mites aren’t as contagious and in the case of Demodectic mange, the over-population of naturally occurring mites is caused by a weakened immune system.

Diagnosing Mange

Any suspected skin condition that develops on your dog should be examined by a vet so that an accurate diagnosis can be made. Mange can become quite serious if left untreated and certain types of mange can rapidly get out of control. Your vet will ask about your pet’s history and symptoms and thoroughly examine the affected areas. A skin scraping or biopsy can be done to help rule out any other conditions and to help identify the type of mite causing the condition.

Help for Mange

Conventional treatment of mange often depends on the type mange that has developed, and the size and breed of your pet. Treating mange usually involves chemical based lotions, dips and shampoos and many of these products contain chemicals such as amitraz, ivermectin, and selamectin.

It is important to consult with your vet before attempting to use any of these products as many of them come with side-effects and some are not safe for cats, small dogs or sensitive pets. Because mange so often causes yeast or bacterial infections, your vet may prescribe a course of antibiotic.

More Information on Mange

Tips for treating and preventing mange
  • Certain types of mange can live in the surrounding environment without a host for a number of days. It therefore may be necessary to treat bedding, collars, brushes and carpeting that your pet may have been in contact with.
  • A weakened immune system can play a part in the development of mange, particularly in cases of demodectic mange. It is therefore essential to take appropriate measures to boost your pet’s immune system. This may include a healthy balance diet, regular exercise.
  • A canine’s skin will take some time to fully recover from a bout of mange. 
  • Mange is a serious condition and some types can even be fatal if not treated. Many pet owners make the mistake of "waiting to see if it clears up" and before long the condition has spread out of control. It is therefore essential to treat any skin condition as soon as it develops.
  • Avoid giving your pet harsh pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals if you can. These products can suppress the immune system and cause toxicity build up in your pet.
  • Remember to treat all pets in the house if one of them has being diagnosed mange. This is because many types of mange are very contagious and can quickly be spread if one pet in the house has it.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids can be given as a supplement to help boost the immune system as and encourage skin health.
  • Ivermectin is commonly used to treat mange however, it can be fatal to certain breeds and should never be used Collies and other herding breeds, or in dogs with history of seizures.
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