What is the mange? Canine Demodectic mange in dogs is a disease that causes hair loss without itch. It is caused by a tiny parasitic mite and occurs in dogs three to twelve months of age. It is too small to be seen without a microscope. It is sometimes called the red mange. Dog mange can be seen in all breeds. The mange on dogs can be difficult to cure.
Most dogs have some Demodex mites living in the pores of their skin. They are acquired early in life from their mothers. The dog mites are usually present without causing symptoms. The mange mites are able to produce a substance that lowers dogs’ natural resistance to them, allowing them to multiply on the host.. It has been observed in kennels that certain females have a higher incidence of Demodex mange in their litters than other mothers. This suggest that in some purebred dogs there is a lowered immunity to the mite. Dogs with Demodectic mange should not be bred, because it is a genetic problem.
The disease is more common in dogs with oily skin that are short-haired. Symptoms of mange appear at puberty. At this time the sebum, which the mite feeds on , is increasing in amount.
Demodectic canine mange may take one of two forms:
Localized form – It occurs in dogs up to a year old. The first sign is the thinning of the hair around the eyelids; the corners of the mouth or on the front legs, which give a moth eaten appearance in these areas. It progresses to patches of hair loss about one inch in diameter. It can be confused with ringworm. If five patches or more are present, the disease could be progressing to the generalized form. The hair begins to grow back after one or two months. The majority of cases are healed in three months. Treatment of mange involves dipping with an insecticide dip. This must be done at least 3 times with 10 day intervals between dips. The dip will kill all parasites, but not the eggs. That is why several dips are required.
Generalized form – The disease begins as a localized case, but instead of improving it gets worse. You will see numerous patches on the legs, head and trunk. The patches coalesce to form large areas. Hair follicles become plugged with debris and mites. The skin breaks down to form sores, crusts and draining sinus tracts. It can be a severe and disabling condition.
Treatment of the generalized form is prolonged and response is slow, which requires frequent changes in medications. You should clip away the hair to facilitate topical therapy of the skin. A betadine shampoo can be used to wash the whole dog to remove scales and debris.
This form of Demodectic mange should be treated by a vet. Treat until skin scrapings are negative. Cultures from infected skin sores will determine the most effective antibiotic. Cortisone can be used to treat severe skin irritations. However, it may depress the dog’s immunity to the mites making the dog’s condition worse.