Dogs are called Man’s Best Friend for good reason. No creature is more loyal, loving and hard working than the dog. So we want to take care of our dogs. A common health problem seen in dogs is mange. Mange is a parasitic infestation caused by microscopic mites that invade the dog’s body causing severe itching and hair loss.
Mange can be localized in small patches or generalized all over the dog’s body in the most severe infections. Generalized mange will not always respond to treatment. The most common strains of mange are sarcoptic, demodectic and cheyletiella. The sarcoptic mites are very contagious, even to humans, and cannot be seen by the naked eye. These are the ones that can cause the problematic generalized infection which can be life threatening. Sarcoptic infections are characterized by constant scratching that will lead to dry, scaly, and crusty skin caused by the mite burrowing into the skin and releasing a poison. Be very careful handling pets with sarcoptic mites.
Demodectic mange, or Red Mange, is caused by the demodex canis mite, and it is not as severe as sarcoptic. Puppies, three- to nine-years-old, or dogs with other health problems generally get demodectic infections that can spontaneously go away as the puppy ages and gets a stronger immune system. This mange causes reddened face or feet and patchy hair loss and no itchiness. It is not contagious to humans or life threatening.
Cheyletiella mites can be seen by the naked eye and produce scales and flakes like dandruff. It is a lot like sarcpotic in symptoms and can be given to humans by dogs.
Regardless of which kind of mange your dog has, you need to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible after you notice the symptoms. The vet can better identify the strain of mite by performing a skin scraping and examining the recovered tissue under a microscope and then prescribe the appropriate medicine. Usually that will be an over-the-counter mite killing analgesic in the form of a solution, powder or ointment that is applied on the affected area daily after a bath.
A dip of amitraz, lime-sulfur or organophosphate solution may also be prescribed for sarcoptic. The amitraz dip should be used every six to eight weeks while lime-sulfur and organo-phosphate need to be applied once a week until the infestation is gone. If the meds and the dip don’t work, injections of ivermectin or application of a selamectin cream should work.
Demotectic mange will need daily ivermectin or milbemycin oxime therapy and immune-modulating medications.
To prevent mange, maintain a healthy diet for your dog. A good diet can prevent infections and should include finely chopped green vegetables, herbs such as olive leaf extract, cat’s claw, astragulus, and kyolic garlic. Regular bathing of the dog and his or her living space will also help.