Mange is an ugly and sometimes smelly disease. Although it's commonly associated with stray animals living in dirty conditions, any dog can come down with it. It's caused by tiny mites that are part of the normal landscape of a dog's skin, but don't usually cause a problem until a dog's immune system becomes compromised. Once mange appears it may take regular veterinary treatment to overcome and, left untreated, develops into sores that invite potentially fatal infection.
Nutrition is Key
Most dogs live their entire lives with the two types of mites responsible for mange never causing symptoms. A mother dog passes these normal mites to her pups in the early weeks through cuddling and nursing, but other infected dogs are also a potential source. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, probiotics and fresh enzymes found in food, supplements and dog-safe veggies promote optimal health that keep your dog's naturally occurring mites from taking over his skin. Consult your veterinarian about the most nutritious dog food options for your pup's current life stage.
Wash your dog's bedding and blankets once a week to prevent dirt buildup. Bathe and brush your dog regularly to remove dead hair and dander to keep his skin healthy. Don't let your dog socialize with another dog who appears to have mange. Although a limited population of mites are normal to a dog's skin, the transfer of larger than normal numbers from an infested dog is usually more than your dog's immune system can deal with, leaving him infested as well. If your dog develops mange, keep him away from other dogs until you get him to your veterinarian. Beware of over-the-counter formulations containing borax -- a popular pest treatment -- as it is toxic to dogs.
Go Au Natural
If your dog has just one or two spots or you have to wait until morning to call the vet, try a natural remedy to make your dog more comfortable. Rub a small amount of olive oil into the sore area to soothe skin and kill the mites. Honey has antibacterial and cleansing qualities that promote healing in skin wounds and is safe for dogs who don't have blood-sugar issues. Apple cider vinegar -- thinned to 1 teaspoon per cup of water -- can restore natural pH and combat itching.
Get a Dip
If your dog has mites, get immediate veterinary care for your dog. The itching and burning caused by the out-of-control mites is extremely uncomfortable for your dog, and constant scratching sets the stage for open sores and bacterial infection. Your veterinarian will take skin scrapings to determine what type of mange mites are infesting your dog. Treatment ranges from bathing your dog with benzoyl peroxide shampoo to a series of weekly medical dips. Your vet will monitor your dog's mange with a series of skin scrapings until the mites are back in check.
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