Mange is one of the various skin infections that causes a great deal of agonies to our dogs. This page looks at the two common types of canine mange - scabies and demodectic mange.
There are two main types of mange that can occur in dogs: sarcoptic mange, commonly known as scabies, and demodectic mange, also known as red mange, or follicle mange. These two types of mange are caused by two different mange mites.
Let's take a look at each of these two types of mange in dogs.
Sarcoptic mange in dogs (Scabies) is caused by a type of mange mites that usually infest young stray puppies.
The female mite digs "tunnels" into the dog's skin to lay its eggs. The mite continues to dig deeper while laying eggs at the same time. After that, the female mite dies off.
The eggs laid under the dog's skin hatch in 3-8 days. After hatching, the larvae feed on the skin and grow into numphs. They continue to live in those "tunnels" under the dog's skin until they become adult mites. Then, the adult mites mate and the lifecyle repeats (in 2-3 weeks).
Scabies is highly contagious among dogs and cats and can be transmitted to humans so caution is necessary.
These mites do best living on your dog, but can exist for several days off a host - up to three weeks in a moist, cool environment. Average lifespan for mites living off a host in a typical home is about two to six days.
Areas commonly affected include the chest, tummy, the "armpits", and ears - areas where there is not much hair. Scarcoptic mange causes great discomfort to the dogs due to intense itching.
Conventional treatment of scabies is by using a dip of strong petrochemicals such as Amitraz. However, the dipping may cause such side effects as decreased body temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or excitability.
Because of the highly contagious nature of scabies, infested dogs must be isolated.
Because of the adverse effects of strong dips, these days veterinarians opt for some flea control medications (such as Revolution and Frontline Plus) to treat mites.
Sarcoptic mites can survive for a few days even when they are not on your dog's body. It is therefore extremely important to sweep and mop floors, vacuum carpets, and clean your dog's bedding, grooming tools, etc. to make sure that all the mites are eliminated.
Demodectic mange (Red mange/Follicular mange) is caused by another type of mites (called Demodex canis) that live in the hair follicle.
This type of mites are found normally in most dogs but since they are microscopic in size, they are not visible to the naked eye.
In small numbers, these mites do not pose a problem to dogs. However, dogs with immature or weakened immune systems are vulnerable and more prone to develop canine mange. Therefore, if your dog is strong and has a healthy immune system, she is less likely to be bothered by this mite.
Demodectic mange most usually affects puppies (less than 2 years of age) with immature immune systems and older dogs with weakened immune systems.
The mite Demodex spends its entire life on the host (the dog) and cannot live off the dog's body. As such, transmission of this mite is by direct contact only and is not considered to be contagious.
The area first affected is usually around the eyes, but may spread to the head and other parts of the body.
Demodectic mange may affect one or two areas of the dog's body (localized infection) or it may affect the whole body (generalized infection). Most dogs suffer from localized infections.
The one typical symptom of this type of canine mange is hair loss. Dogs with localized infection may have hair loss on the head, around the eyelids, mouth corners, and sometimes on the legs and feet. In more serious cases of generalized infection, there may be hair loss over the entire body.
The skin may turn red and become crusty or scaly.
In case of secondary infection, the skin will become inflammed and may ooze blood or pus. The skin will also give out a strong offensive odor.
Conventional treatment of demodectic mange in dogs depends upon the severity of the disease, but generally calls for even stronger chemicals than those used for scabies.
For dogs with mild cases of mange, it is preferably to try to first treat the problem using natural remedies since these remedies do not cause serious side effects.
As is the case of most dog skin problems, canine mange is an indication that the affected dog has an immune system that is not quite up to par. Therefore, the best way to treat and prevent mange in dogs is to use natural herbs, and a healthy diet with supplements to strengthen the immune system.
Herbs and other natural remedies can also be used to tackle the localized skin problems brought on by mange mites. You may find these home remedies useful.