Most of are are familiar with the phrase “mangy dog” without really knowing where the term comes from. It does not simply refer to animals that have a weathered appearance, or maybe look like they’ve spent one too many night sleeping in a gutter,  mange is an actual skin disease caused by parasitic mites, and it is highly contagious. While mange  is not often a threat to domestic pets that are well cared for, pet owners should still be aware of the risk and be informed about the disease.

Demodectic mange:  This kind of mange cannot be passed to humans, and is largely due to a heavy population of the mites called demuxed canis  which live in the hair follicles. There are usually only four or so spots on the animal’s fur when it s a localized infestation as opposed to a generalized infestation.

Localized infestations are more common when a dog is a puppy, and usually can resolve naturally without treatment.

Generalized demodectic mange spreads across the whole body, and could be reflective of immune deficiencies, hereditary diseases, or problems with the endocrine, etc. Medical treatments are available a but will vary based on the animal’s age.

Demodectic pododermatitis  (mange of the feet) can be especially challenging to identify as it carries a bacterial infection, and sometimes requires biopsies.

Sarcoptic mange: This form of mange is sometimes called canine scabies, or an infestation of burrowing mites called the scrapes scabies canis. Instead of clinging to the coat hair, these mites dig deep under the skin, which causes severe itchiness to the skin’s surface, and can incur an allergic reaction to the might. This will make the skin crust over, and get infected. Sarcoptic mange can unfortunately be passed to other creatures, including humans.  Once a dog is diagnosed with this disease, they ought to be kept in a cool, dry place away from other animals they could infect. The mites thrive in warm damp areas, so a change of environment for the time being is important.

Dogs Most Susceptible to Mange:

  • Puppies
  • Dogs with weak immune systems
  • Dogs suffering from serious diseases like cancer, hypothyroidism, adrenal gland disease, etc.
  • Dogs in contact with strays
  • Pets in moist climates, warm tropical areas where there might be high levels of bacteria.

In both cases of mange, the parasites incite the host to scratch or bite their skin frequently, causes large hot spots, peeling skin, crusting, and infection to ensue.  If your dog has hot spots, or seems to have overly itchy skin,  do not just assume it is an allergy related agitation.  If he has mange, than you must learn how to treat it, and prevent the disease from coming back again.

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