Canine mange is a skin disorder that is caused by the presence of mites that exist on the skin of the dog or in the hair follicles and may even burrow under the skin. Mites are always present on dogs, but certain mites will cause reactions that create uncomfortable symptoms if left untreated. There are three common types of canine mange, caused by different mites. These varieties include Cheyletiella Mange, Sarcoptic Mange and Demodectic Mange. Treatment of mange is usually fairly simple if the condition is detected early on before it spreads extensively.
The following steps are helpful in treating the condition:
- Recognize symptoms early. The mites that cause canine mange are not visible to the eye but symptoms of their presence can be detected by visual inspection. Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange may include vigorous itching, sores on the body, hair loss around the ears, elbows and legs, and an unpleasant odor. Symptoms of Demodectic Mange may include loss of hair on the face, head and front legs and is most commonly seen in puppies. The mites are transferred from the mother to the puppy during nursing and the immune system of the puppy is typically not mature enough to resist the mites. Cheyletiella Mange includes symptoms of mild itching and the appearance of white flakes on the head, neck and back.
- Visit a veterinarian. If mange is suspected, a veterinarian should be consulted for a proper diagnosis. The mite that causes Cheyletiella Mange may be visible with the use of a magnifying glass, but this is an exception. Other forms of mange require a skin scraping and examination under a microscope to determine the type and amount of mites present. This information is necessary to determine an appropriate treatment strategy.
- Follow the veterinary approved treatment strategy. Treatment may include dips or medicated baths, topical ointments or oral drugs. Topical treatments are most commonly used for localized cases while dips and shampoos are necessary when the condition has spread extensively. The oral drug used in treatment is ivermectin. When ivermectin is prescribed, care should be taken to follow the veterinarian's instructions carefully because it is a powerful drug that can have severe side effects, including death, if not used correctly. More severe cases may require shaving the affected area and isolating the dog during treatment to prevent the transfer of the mites to other mammals.
- Prevent reinfection. Once treated, it is important to avoid allowing the mites to return. Some of these methods may include washing the dog's bed, avoiding contact with other dogs that appear symptomatic, feeding a high-quality diet that includes adequate amounts of fat and scheduling regular checkups with your veterinarian.