Mange is the common name for a class of skin diseases caused by parasitic mites. There are 2 common types that affect dogs: Demodectic and Sarcoptic mange.
What is demodicosis?
Demodex canis is a mite that is present in small numbers in the skin of most healthy dogs. Nursing puppies acquire the mite from their mothers during the first few days of life, and in most dogs there will never be any associated problems.
In some dogs however, the normal balance is disrupted due to an immune defect. The mites multiply by the thousands in the hair follicles causing inflammation, in a condition called demodicosis. Demodicosis may be localized - that is, confined to 1 or more small discrete scaly reddened areas of hair loss, most commonly on the face or front legs. This is usually seen in pups of 3 to 6 months of age, and most cases resolve spontaneously. Alternately, generalized demodicosis may develop, at anywhere from 3 to 12 months of age. This is a severe skin condition.
The defect in the cell-mediated immune system which allows the development of generalized demodicosis is believed to be inherited.
What breeds are affected by demodicosis?
This condition is common in the Shar Pei. There is also an increased incidence of demodicosis in the Afghan hound, beagle, Boston terrier, boxer, bull terrier, chihuahua, collie, dachshund, dalmatian, Doberman pinscher, English bulldog, English pointer, German shepherd, Great Dane, Old English sheepdog, pit bull, pug, rottweiler, Staffordshire terrier.
What does demodicosis mean to your dog & you?
It is important to note that demodicosis is not infectious, to other pets or to people. The mite is present in small numbers in the skin of healthy dogs, but the condition of demodicosis only develops in some animals, who are believed to have a defect in their immune system.
Generalized demodicosis can be one of the most severe skin diseases in dogs. It starts out with local lesions that instead of disappearing, get worse and spread, generally on the head, legs and body. Secondary infections of the hair follicles occur, and large scaly crusted patches form which may eventually cover most of the dog. The deep skin infections can be complicated by resistant bacteria.
Some dogs only develop demodicosis on the feet (demodectic pododermatitis). These lesions commonly become infected, are painful, and can be quite difficult to treat successfully.
How is demodicosis diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will do a simple procedure called a skin scraping to find the mites on your dog's skin.
How is demodicosis treated?
Localized demodicosis: This is a mild disease that can heals on its on within a few weeks, with or without treatment. There are spot on products that you can apply which target other parasites at the same time. It is best to visit your vet within 4 weeks after diagnosis to make sure that the condition is not spreading.
Generalized demodicosis: In most cases this serious disease can be treated successfully. Treatment can be lengthy and expensive but the majority of dogs recover completely. In most of the rest, the disorder can be well-controlled with monthly treatment.
Most dogs recover after 4 to 8 treatments at bi-weekly intervals. Treatment for generalized demodicosis consists of clipping the dog's entire hair coat to allow better contact of the medication with the skin, removal of all crusts, bathing with medicated shampoo to kill bacteria and remove debris. This regimen works in the majority of dogs. Spot on medications are often not enough to control the disease but can be applied on a long term basis to prevent reinfection.
Another option is a course of oral medication, given daily for several months.
Underlying skin infections must also be treated with antibiotics.
What is sarcoptic mange?
Sarcoptes Scabiei is a mite that is foreign invader of the skin that is transmissible from to both other dogs, immunosuppressed cats and humans.
What breeds are affected by sarcoptic mange?
All breeds are susceptible to sarcoptes although individual dogs may develop a protective immunity after successful treatment of an infestation.
What does sarcoptic mange mean to your dog & you?
Because Sarcoptes is infectious to other pets and people it is important to treat your dog immediately and to treat all in contact animals. If you develop intensely itchy lesions then please see your doctor.
Your dog will develop incredibly itchy skin with pimple like eruptions occurring mainly around the ear edges, elbows, ankles and ventral chest.
How is sarcoptic mange diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will do a simple procedure called a skin scraping to find the mites on your dog's skin. Failure to find the mite using such a test does not eliminate the diagnosis of sarcoptic mange because they are not always found in great numbers in the skin. If your vet is suspicious then they will usually just treat to rule it out as a possible diagnosis.
You can also perform a very simple test at home if your dog has ear lesions. Rubbing the tip of the ear against the base for about 5 seconds should illicit the hind leg on the same side to try and scratch the ear. This is called the pinnal-pedal reflex.
How is sarcoptic mange treated?
It can be treated in a number of different ways but most easily with a spot on product used every 2 weeks for 2-3 treatments. Some products have a toxic effect on collies and Old Englidh sheepdogs so please read the label before application or consult your vet if you are unsure. There are also dips available which are safer in those breeds and it is often a good idea to wash the dog in a medicated shampoo to help eliminate the bacterial infection. Remember not to wash on 3 days either side of the spot on application.
Remember to treat all in contact animals.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS DISORDER, PLEASE SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN.