Identification and Treatment of Mange

Understand what mange is, and how you can help a dog suffering from mange get better.

Mange is a type of inflammatory skin disease caused by tiny parasitic mites on dogs. Nearly all dogs carry mites in small numbers throughout their lives. Generally, a dog’s immune system is sufficient to keep the number of mites low and prevent noticeable symptoms. In cases of mange, however, the population of mites grows out of control. Large colonies of mites can cause skin lesions, hair loss, and even immune system problems.

Sarcoptic (red) and Demodectic (demodicosis) mange

Dogs can contract two forms of mange: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange. Though both can be serious, the two forms of the disease differ somewhat in the symptoms they present.

The identification and treatment given here is only a guideline. Treatment should begin after a skin scraping has been checked under a microscope by a vet. The treatment and medication may differ on the size and kidney condition of the dog – this is the treatment and method that we use.

Sarcoptic mange

Sarcoptic mange usually causes intense itching. The dog may relentlessly scratch or chew at its skin to relieve the itch. The dog’s skin, irritated from the constant scratching and biting, can easily become infected. The itching can even be so severe that it distracts the dog from necessary behaviour like eating, drinking, and resting.

Severe cases of sarcoptic mange that result in secondary infections from bacteria or yeast can cause a white, crusty surface to form on the dog’s irritated skin. In addition, dogs with severe secondary infections will also often suffer weight loss, run a fever, and/or have enlarged lymph nodes.

While sarcoptic mange itself can’t kill a dog, the dog’s health can deteriorate quickly if it gets a serious infection or stops eating or sleeping. Mange may then be fatal, from secondary infections causing organ failure and shock.

Checking for sarcoptic mange: The Pinnal-Pedal Reflex test.

Take one of the dog’s ears  in your hand. Hold the floppy part of the ear between your thumb and index finger.

Use your thumb and index finger to rub the dog’s ear from both sides. While you do this, keep your eyes on the dog’s hind leg on the same side as the ear you’re rubbing.

Look for an itching motion. You’re looking for a movement in the dog’s hind leg like it’s trying to reach up to scratch its ear. If you see this, your dog probably has Sarcoptic mange.

If it does that is a good reckoner that the dog has mange.

Demodectic mange

Demodectic mange is caused by a tiny mite, Demodex canis, too small to be seen with the naked eye. Nearly all dogs acquire mange mites from their mother during the first few days of life. These mites are considered normal skin fauna when present in small numbers. They produce disease only when an abnormal immune system allows their numbers to get out of control. This occurs primarily in puppies and in adult dogs with lowered immunity. A high incidence of mange in certain bloodlines suggests that some purebred dogs are born with an inherited immune susceptibility.

Demodectic mange occurs in localized and generalized forms. The diagnosis is made by taking multiple skin scrapings and looking for the mites. Demodectic mites are usually easy to find.

Localized Demodectic mange

This disease occurs in dogs under 1 year of age. The appearance of the skin is similar to that of ringworm (as in a patch). The principal sign is thinning hair around the eyelids, lips, and corners of the mouth, and occasionally on the trunk, the legs, and the feet. The thinning progresses to patches of ragged hair loss about 2.5 cm in diameter. In some cases, the skin becomes red, scaly, and infected.

Generalized Demodectic Mange

Dogs with the generalized disease develop patches of hair loss on the head, legs, and trunk. These patches merge to form large areas of hair loss. The hair follicles become plugged with mites and skin scales. The skin breaks down to form sores, crusts.

Comparison and treatment of mange

Comparison and treatment of mange

 Sarcoptic Mange (red mange)Demodectic Mange
OrganismInfection of the skin with the microscopic, parasitic mite Sarcoptes Scabei.Overgrowth of mites that are normally found in small numbers in a dog’s skin. Demodectic mange is usually diagnosed in young dogs without fully functioning immune systems, or in dogs that are otherwise immuno-compromised.
CommunicabilitySarcoptic mange is contagious, and most dogs catch the disease via direct contact with an infected individual. People and cats can also be transiently infected.Demodectic mange is not contagious.
Typical SymptomsExtreme itchiness with hair loss and red scaly skin that typically start in sparsely-haired areas like the ear flaps, elbows, and abdomen Will spread to the entire body without effective treatment.Patchy hair loss with relatively normal looking skin underneath for localized demodectic mange. Mild to moderate itching may or may not be present. In more severe cases, hair loss may be wide-spread, the skin obviously abnormal, and itchiness severe.
DiagnosisSkin scrapings will reveal the mite. But many dogs may react so intensely to a small number of mites that skin scrapings may be a false negative.  Skin scrapings usually will reveal the presence of higher than normal numbers of mites.
TreatmentFor very severe cases Avil (to reduce itching to give the skin a change to heal): 1 tablet for a 20kg dog 2 times a day for 3 days Same dose, once every 2 day for next 3 days Antibiotics may need to be administered because of extensive skin rupture and secondary infection Spectrozole cream localized application over broken skin Cefpet/ Cefpodoxime Proxetil 200mg (1 tab per 10 kg of body weight) once a day for 5 days Ivermectin (for killing the mites) 1 injections per week for upto 4-5 weeks If injections can’t be given Invermectin tab (1/ 20 kg body weight) every day for duration of treatment. Note: Invermectin can’t be given for puppies <2 months old Medicated bath (to remove scales and dead skin) This allows topical treatments to reach the mites Use any medicated shampoo or use a dog shampoo with RIDD (4ml/ lt dilution). RIDD (Amitraz) application (for killing the mites): Apply on the skin of the dog (4ml/ lit dilution) – use a common water spray gun. The whole skin area has to be sprayed Week 1: Every alternate day Week 2: 2 times a week Week 3 & 4: Once a week Note: RIDD can’t be applied on puppies <2 months old or on broken skin.   Milder cases Ivermectin (for killing the mites) 1 injections per week for 2 weeks If injections can’t be given Invermectin tab (1/ 20 kg body weight) every day for duration of treatment. Note: Invermectin can’t be given for puppies <2 months old RIDD (Amitraz) application (for killing the mites): Apply on the skin of the dog (4ml/ lit dilution) – use a common water spray gun. The whole skin area has to be sprayed Week 1: Every alternate day Week 2: 2 times a week Note: RIDD can’t be applied on puppies <2 months old or on broken skin.

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The information contained in VOSD Vet Advice™ is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical action which is provided by your vet. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For any emergency situation related to a dog’s health, please visit the nearest veterinary clinic.