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Mange in Dogs

Mange in Dogs

Has your dog been itching a lot lately? Wondering if it is ticks or fleas or mange? Here's some help...
Gagan Dhillon
Other than ticks and fleas, there is another kind of parasite which causes our pets to itch. These microscopic creatures bury into the pet's skin, and cause extreme discomfort and irritation. Mange is a skin disease caused by these parasites, which affects mostly dogs and cats. It makes the animal itch and lose its fur. Humans are also sometimes infected by these parasites. In dogs, it is caused by four types of mites, which are explained in the following paragraphs.

Walking Dandruff
Walking dandruff is caused by Cheyletiella mites. It is called walking dandruff, as the white flakes or mites can be seen moving. They cause severe itching and scaling of skin. Cheyletiella mange is highly contagious and is contracted through direct contact with the infected pet. Humans too can catch this skin disease, but it is self-eliminating in humans. It usually affects dogs with a poor immune system, and puppies contract it while feeding on their mother.

Demodectic Mange
Demodectic or red mange is caused by demodex mites. These mites are present in all dogs, they contract it from their mothers in the first few days of feeding. Most dogs live in complete harmony with these mites for the most part of their lives. Dogs build immunity against these mites when they are young, but if the dog's defense system is weak, then the mites can cause mange. It affects them in three ways. One is a localized infection, which affects a small area and causes a itchy bald spot. Second, is an infection which spreads over a large area, and the third type just affects the paws.

Sarcoptic Mange
It is caused by Sarcoptes scab mites. These are microscopic creatures. When they mate, the female mite burrows into the skin of the dog and lays her eggs. These eggs hatch and become adult mites within weeks. They usually affect the hairless part of a dog's body, such as the elbows, ears, and abdomen. Commonly known as scabies, this skin disease is highly contagious and can be contracted by humans also.

Otodectes Mange
Otodectes mites are also known as ear mites. They are found in the ears of cats and dogs. These mites are highly contagious and live on the host body their entire life. This is contracted by direct contact with an infected dog. The symptoms include itching, scaling, redness, and the formation of brownish red crusts on the ears.

For treating mange, it is best to begin by first isolating the dog with mange to avoid spreading the infection to other pets. If you have more than one dog, then give the other dogs the treatment too. You can try some home remedies like bathing the dog with a mixture of borax and hydrogen peroxide. Remember to change the dog's bedding and collar. Vets do prescribe antifungal and bacterial drugs as a treatment. Over-the-counter mite killers are also very effective. The most common treatment is bathing the dog in lime and sulfur insecticide solutions.

Mange can be highly contagious; the sooner it is treated, the better.