A while ago, I wasn’t worried about my lovely dog.
How did my dog get mange? I wanted answers but couldn’t find any online until my vet friend helped me with some ideas, which I’ll share here.
Aren’t dogs just fantastic pets?
They give you company, they guard your homes, they are loyal to the love and care you shower on them and they also help you around home with your daily chores. No wonder they are called a man’s best friend!
However, like all things wonderful, there is a share of responsibility too. You must take care of them so that they remain healthy and hearty.
This includes looking for the warning signs of disease in your furry pet before it goes out of hand.
Yes, dogs do get a lot of diseases just as we do, if we neglect our living. One of the most common kinds of dog diseases is the mange.
How to Tell if your Dog Has Mange or Allergies
There are a few signs and symptoms like itching, scratching, redness, hair loss, lesions, etc. that signal the development of mange in your dog. Read on to know more.
But before you do that, you may want to know what mange is and what kinds occur in dogs. So here goes…
What is Mange?
Here’s a quick trivia – the word ‘mange’ comes from the French term ‘mangeue’ that means “to eat or itch” (shared by the American Kennel Club). Mange is a skin infection common to dogs, caused by mites.
Mites are small parasitic pests belonging to the arachnid family. These are almost like ticks, but not quite them.
When mites infest a dog’s coat, they go deep into their skin and causes the skin condition called mange. This condition leads to skin inflammation or irritation or redness or all of these and more.
And it is painful on the poor dog if left untreated. So take your dog to a vet as soon as you spot any signs of mange.
There are two types of mange. The amount of alarm your dog’s mange infection can raise depends on the type of mange it has developed.
The first type is called demodectic mange and the second type is the sarcoptic mange. Demodectic mange (also known as red mange or demodex) is non-contagious to other dogs and humans.
Mites are normal in dogs as a mother dog will naturally pass some on to her babies at birth.
It is a problem only when mites grow in number due to an immune deficiency. In this non-infectious type of mange, mites infest the oil glands and hair follicles of your dog, leading to irritability. However, this is less severe than the other type.
Sarcoptic mange (also known as canine scabies) is alarming because it is highly contagious and spreads easily upon physical contact to others, both dogs and humans.
It is caused by the Sarcoptesscabiei mite. This kind of mange manifests on the ears, chests, bellies and elbows of the infected creature.
Common Symptoms of Early Stage Mange in Dogs
At home, if you find your dog having the following symptoms, you can consider it having developed one of the types of mange in dogs:
- Continuous itching
- Sores and lesions on the skin
- Rashes, redness and inflammation
- Loss of hair or alopecia
- Thick yellowish crusts
- Scabby or scaly coat texture
- Swelling in its feet
- Bacterial infections
- Skin thickening
- Bad odor, etc.
Take it to a vet and get a thorough checkup done. The vet will scrape the skin to look for mites under a microscope.
If mites are not seen on the skin sample, but the dog shows strong signs of a mange infection, repeat the test after a few days.
This is the tricky part. People often come back home happy that no mites have been detected on the skin scrapings and that there is no serious problem.
However, as some pet experts have rightly noted, these tiny arachnids are visible only about 30% to 50% of the time under the microscope. A negative test result does not necessarily mean absence of mange in the dog.
Therefore, it is best to start treatment if you spot the symptoms of mange in your dog.
In fact, the infectious variety of mange or sarcoptic mange is more common than the non-infectious variety or demodectic mange.
Pet expert Dr. Ian Spiegel has observed a recent increase in the cases of canine sarcoptic mange, especially in the US.
This indicates a strong need to identify mange in your dog early on, before it spreads to others in the vicinity.
Here’s more on the top three signs of mange to help you know if your dog has mange:
1). Excessive itching and scratching
While both the kinds of mange cause itchiness in the dog, sarcoptic mange is particularly very itchy, as the mites burrow deep into the skin to lay their eggs and feed on skin secretions.
If it is undetected and treatment is delayed, the itching aggravates and lesions start showing on the skin.
Not only would the dog suffer, but it would also lead to more serious skin complications and increase your costs.
So if you find your dog itching especially at the ear margins, hocks or elbows — lose no time and see a vet.
2). Loss of Hair or Alopecia
Hair loss or alopecia can well be a symptom for your dog’s mange infection, but it is definitely not the only sign.
This is because dogs can lose hair even due to poor diet and other gastrointestinal issues. So, hair loss is not a strong indicator for mange.
But if your dog does have a mange infection, it will keep losing hair. You need to look for other symptoms alongside the hair loss to have a ready case for vet checkup.
Some amount of hair loss is common in all dogs, but if your dog starts getting dry bald patches on its skin or scabby skin, it is most certainly a reason to worry. In extreme cases, the hair lost areas will become white, rough and crusty.
Therefore, be it mange or not, do not neglect unusual hair loss in your dog. Get him treated as soon as you can.
3). Swelling of Feet
If your dog has mange, sometimes its feet would begin to swell. This is especially true for demodectic mange. The swelling of the dog’s feet due to this kind of mite infection is known as demodecticpododermatitis.
In such a condition, you would find inflammation particularly around the nail beds. To say the least, this is painful and uncomfortable for the poor pooch.
The sooner you detect this, the easier it is to treat and heal. Demodecticpododermatitis is hard to heal unless managed in the initial stage.
What is the Best Home Remedy for Dog Mange?
There are not so many home remedies for dog mange, but the best treatments are affordable and safe.
Demodectic mange often subsides on its own. But if the infection is severe, your dog may need some medication and skin surface treatment.
Since this kind of mange indicates a fragile immune system of your dog, the vet may conduct some additional tests to diagnose other underlying reasons for immunity compromise.
If there are other illnesses in your dog that affects its immunity, treating that condition will automatically reduce the demodectic mange symptoms.
In the meanwhile, if you want to provide some relief to your dog’s itches, try dipping the affected areas in a lime-sulfur solution, after consulting the vet.
Also, keep monitoring the mite infection in your dog from time to time through skin scrapings under a microscope.
Sarcoptic mange management is a tad more difficult to handle as it is contagious. So, as a first step, use gloves while you care for your infected canine.
You would need to wash your dog every week for a stretch of 4 to 6 weeks with medicated scabicidal shampoo and under a vet’s supervision. Some mites are clever and develop resistance to some products.
Therefore, you may have to try more than one shampoo to understand which works effectively to remove the Sarcoptesscabiei.
Also, keep your dog quarantined as long as his sarcoptic mange is not controlled.
Maintain absolute hygiene at all points of care – before handling your pet and after. Sanitize your home properly and wash the dog’s bedding thoroughly every day to minimize chances of the disease spreading to others.
Detecting mange in your dog is not rocket science. You just have to be a little observant about your dog’s appearance and activities. Anything peculiar to you can be the alarm for a vet visit.
Early detection is always a blessing in any kind of disease – be it for humans or dogs.
The earlier you spot a problem, the higher the chances of quick recovery. Also, it means that you are a responsible and sensitive dog owner, who has a keen eye over his/her pet.
Now, watch out for those warning signs of excessive itching, redness, hair loss, swollen feet, sores, lesions, skin thickening, odor, etc. to be able to know that your dog has mange.
Unless you get to know it first, your dog doesn’t get to see a vet. And treatment does not start. Who wants that anyways? Sure you don’t.