A mangy dog is a suffering dog. It's a safe bet that he feels as bad the mange makes him look. Two types of mange, caused by different mites, primarily affect dogs. Treatments are similar, but your veterinarian should conduct skin scrapings to determine which type of mite is the source of your dog's woes.
Sarcoptic mange, known as scabies when it affects humans, results from infestation by the mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. The female mite burrows into a dog's skin to lay eggs, which hatch several days later. Sarcoptic mange causes a massive allergic reaction in affected dogs, who scratch uncontrollably. This constant scratching causes lesions that often become infected and foul-smelling. Sarcoptic mange usually starts on the dog's face and spreads all over the body. Extremely contagious among dogs, scabies can cause itching and blisters on people.
If your dog is already on a heartworm preventive containing ivermectin, a wormer, he's unlikely to suffer from sarcoptic mange. Dogs with sarcoptic mange whose blood tests reveal they're negative for heartworm can receive ivermectin to get rid of the infestation. Since sarcoptic mange is contagious, you must treat every dog in your household. Some dogs, especially those with collie ancestry, are sensitive to ivermectin, though, and can't receive it. For those dogs, regular dips with a miticide can eventually eradicate scabies. That treatment is the same as for dogs with demodetic mange infestations. You'll have to replace your dog's bedding, as it could contain mites.
Every dog probably has a few demodetic mange mites on his body, but these tiny creatures don't cause problems in healthy animals. Puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to demodetic mange, also called red mange. Dogs with demodetic mange don't scratch as much as those with scabies. Demodetic mange usually reveals itself with hair loss on the face. It often goes no further, but it occasionally spreads to the body. Demodetic mange mites don't affect people.
If your dog is sensitive to ivermectin, your veterinarian can prescribe a dip for your dog's demodetic mange treatment. Dips for eradicating the mange mite contain a powerful insecticide that can cause side effects in the dog and in the person applying it. These include vomiting and grogginess. Your dog will likely require a series of two or three treatments given at weekly intervals. Your vet then conducts skin scrapings to see if mites or their eggs are still present. Your vet will also prescribe antibiotics for any secondary infections resulting from incessant scratching, as is also true of scabies infestations.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images