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 areloyal to the love and care you shower on them and they also help you aroundhome with your daily chores. No wonder they are called a man’s best friend!
However, like all things wonderful, there is a shareof responsibility too. You must take care of them so that they remain healthyand hearty.
This includes looking for the warning signs of diseasein your furry pet before it goes out of hand.
Yes, dogs do get a lot of diseases just as we do, ifwe neglect our living. One of the most common kinds of dog diseases is themange.
Howto 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 ofmange in your dog. Read on to know more.
But before you do that, you may want to know whatmange is and what kinds occur in dogs. So here goes…
What is Mange?
Here’s a quick trivia – the word ‘mange’ comes fromthe French term ‘mangeue’ that means“to eat or itch” (shared by the American Kennel Club). Mange is a skin infection common to dogs, caused bymites.
Mites are small parasitic pests belonging to thearachnid family. These are almost like ticks, but not quite them.
When mites infest a dog’s coat, they go deep intotheir skin and causes the skin condition called mange. This condition leads toskin 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 yourdog’s mange infection can raise depends on the type of mange it has developed.
The first type is called demodectic mange and thesecond type is the sarcoptic mange. Demodectic mange (also known as red mangeor demodex) is non-contagious to other dogs and humans.
Mites are normal in dogs as a mother dog willnaturally pass some on to her babies at birth.
It is a problem only when mites grow in number due toan immune deficiency. In this non-infectious type of mange, mites infest theoil 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 alarmingbecause it is highly contagious and spreads easily upon physical contact toothers, 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 followingsymptoms, you can consider it having developed one of the types of mange indogs:
- Soresand lesions on the skin
- Rashes,redness and inflammation
- Lossof hair or alopecia
- Thickyellowish crusts
- Scabbyor scaly coat texture
- Swellingin its feet
- Badodor, etc.
Take it to a vet and get a thorough checkup done. Thevet will scrape the skin to look for mites under a microscope.
If mites are not seen on the skin sample, but the dogshows strong signs of a mange infection, repeat the test after a few days.
This is the tricky part. People often come back homehappy that no mites have been detected on the skin scrapings and that there isno 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 sarcopticmange 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 caninesarcoptic mange, especially in the US.
This indicates a strong need to identify mange in yourdog 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 thedog, sarcoptic mange is particularly very itchy, as the mites burrow deep intothe skin to lay their eggs and feed on skin secretions.
If it is undetected and treatment is delayed, theitching 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 yourdog’s mange infection, but it is definitely not the only sign.
This is because dogs can lose hair even due to poordiet and other gastrointestinal issues. So, hair loss is not a strong indicatorfor mange.
But if your dog does have a mange infection, it willkeep losing hair. You need to look for other symptoms alongside the hair lossto have a ready case for vet checkup.
Some amount of hair loss is common in all dogs, but ifyour dog starts getting dry bald patches on its skin or scabby skin, it is mostcertainly a reason to worry. In extreme cases, the hair lost areas will becomewhite, rough and crusty.
Therefore, be it mange or not, do not neglect unusualhair 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 beginto swell. This is especially true for demodectic mange. The swelling of thedog’s feet due to this kind of mite infection is known asdemodecticpododermatitis.
In such a condition, you would find inflammationparticularly around the nail beds. To say the least, this is painful anduncomfortable for the poor pooch.
The sooner you detect this, the easier it is to treatand heal. Demodecticpododermatitis is hard to heal unless managed in theinitial stage.
What is the Best Home Remedy for Dog Mange?
There are not so many home remedies for dog mange, butthe best treatments are affordable and safe.
Demodectic mange often subsides on its own. But if theinfection is severe, your dog may need some medication and skin surfacetreatment.
Since this kind of mange indicates a fragile immunesystem of your dog, the vet may conduct some additional tests to diagnose otherunderlying reasons for immunity compromise.
If there are other illnesses in your dog that affectsits immunity, treating that condition will automatically reduce the demodecticmange symptoms.
In the meanwhile, if you want to provide some reliefto 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 dogfrom 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 shampooto understand which works effectively to remove the Sarcoptesscabiei.
Also, keep your dog quarantined as long as hissarcoptic mange is not controlled.
Maintain absolute hygiene at all points of care –before handling your pet and after. Sanitize your home properly and wash thedog’s bedding thoroughly every day to minimize chances of the disease spreadingto others.
Detecting mange in your dog is not rocket science. Youjust 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 chancesof quick recovery. Also, it means that you are a responsible and sensitive dogowner, who has a keen eye over his/her pet.
Now, watch out for those warning signs of excessiveitching, 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 getto see a vet. And treatment does not start. Who wants that anyways? Sure youdon’t.