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Signs and Symptoms of Dog Mange

Updated on December 7, 2009
Stray and malnourished dogs are prone to mange, alvimann,
Stray and malnourished dogs are prone to mange, alvimann,

Mange is a fastidious skin disorder affecting dogs caused by a variety of microscopic mites. While these mites are normally present in the flora of a dog's skin, their numbers may increase considerably when the dog's immune system is vulnerable such as in puppies and geriatric dogs, or simply in dogs weakened by stress or malnutrition. Overwhelmed by the number of mites, at this point dogs begin to exhibit clinical signs.

There are different forms of mange in dogs caused by different types of mites: Demodectic , Sarcoptic and Cheyletiella. Some forms of mange are zoonotic diseases, meaning that they can be transmitted to humans as well.

LymDyp 16 ounces
LymDyp 16 ounces

For the treatment of Sarcoptic mange and ringworm.


Types of Dog Mange

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic Mange also known as red mange, is caused by a microscopic mite known as ''Demodex Canis'' Of all the forms of mange, this is perhaps the most serious because it often indicates an immune disorder or a suppressed immunity. It is suspected that some dogs may be genetically predisposed to this form of mange due to an inherited immune system defect.

Demodectic mange typically affects dogs under the age of two. This form has a very good prognosis and the condition generally undergoes spontaneous remission as the dog's immune system develops. Affected canines will exhibit thinning of the hair around the eyes, mouth and front legs, leading to visible patches of hair loss, often giving the dog a ''moth eaten appearance''.

However, in some circumstances, demodectic mange may evolve from a localized skin condition into a generalized form causing general hair loss on the whole dog's body and causing the dog's skin to develop visible crusty and oozing sores. The skin may or may not be itchy and scaling may occur. In adult dogs this form is often suggestive of some underlying condition such as hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease, cancer or other potential metabolic diseases.

Treatment of localized demodectic mange consists of antibacterial shampoos and lotions to help the eradication of mites.The general form requires antibiotics to fight any secondary bacterial skin infections and Amitraz dips along with the oral administration of Ivermectin or Milbemycin. Collies, Shelties or Australian shepherds should never be given Ivermectin because these breeds are sensitive to its action.

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange also known as scabies, is caused by a microscopic mite known as ''Sarcoptes scabiei.' While sarcoptic mange is a zoonotic skin condition, these mites prefer to live on dogs rather than humans. This form of mange can be particularly fastidious because it causes the dog to scratch, at times even furiously. Affected dogs will exhibit visible hair loss in areas where there is not much hair such as elbows, ears, armpits, hocks, belly and chest.

The hair loss can become widespread affecting the dog's whole body. Yellow crusts and red pustules will be visible and the intense scratching may aggravate the skin creating visible sores. The dog's ear tips may appear crusty Secondary skin bacterial infections may arise. This condition is often misdiagnosed for an allergy, however, dogs affected by sarcoptic mange do not generally respond to allergy treatments.

Treatment of sarcoptic mange consists of providing antibiotics to treat secondary skin infection, clipping the dog's hair, using medicated shampoos and regular dips. Ivermectin may be used to kill the mites. Collies, Shelties or Australian shepherds should never be given Ivermectin because these breeds are sensitive to its action. Steroids may be given to decrease the itchiness.

Humans may act as a host for sarcoptic mites but their effect is self limited mainly causing itchiness. The mite may burrow under the skin of humans, but fortunately it cannot complete its life cycle on humans, therefore they tend to die within a few weeks.

Cheyletiella Mange

Chelytiella mange also known as walking dandruff, is caused by the Cheyletiella mite. The name ''walking dandruff ''derives from the fact that the movement of these mites under the dog's dandruff or skin scales cause these to appear as if they are moving. This type of mite is zoonotic, meaning that it can affect other species, humans included. In humans the mites may cause itchy rashes. Careful hand washing after handling affected animals is recommended.

This form of mange like the others is contagious and is commonly found in pets that are weakened by stress, poor nutrition and in over crowded areas such as shelters, humane societies, boarding facilities and puppy mills. Puppies are the most susceptible because of their lower immunity.

Dogs affected by Cheyletiella mange may exhibit flaky, coats, skin irritations and itching. The area mostly affected seems to be the back. At times, the mites can be seen by combing the dog and then placing some dandruff on a black piece of paper. The mites should stick out as white specks that move.

Treatment for this form of mange consists of the administration of Ivermectin. Collies, Shelties or Australian shepherds should never be given Ivermectin because these breeds are sensitive to its action. The topical application of spot on products such as Frontline, Revolution or Advantage can be helpful. Lime dips and Amitraz dips may be recommended.

As seen, mange is quite an annoying skin disease. Puppies that develop the juvenile form of mange, should be neutered and spayed because their genetic predisposition to mange can be passed on to future litters. Humans, on the other hand should be careful and rely on good hand washing habits since some mange mites ''mite'' may cause some annoying and itchy rashes.


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    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 8 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.