If your dog comes down with mange, caused by specific mange mites, he might scratch incessantly, and his skin will become a crusty, scabby mess. These symptoms mimic those of flea and food allergies, so take your pet to the vet for a definite diagnosis. If your dog receives oral or injectable heartworm medications, mange shouldn't be an issue. These medications kill mites along with other parasites.
Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is caused by a tiny, nearly invisible mite. The results of the mites' bites are very visible, with hair loss and lesions generally occurring around the abdomen, chest, leg joints and ears. Untreated, it spreads over the entire body. The crusty lesions resulting from the animal's constant scratching often become infected. The skin starts thickening, so it resembles that of an elephant rather than a dog. Since scabies is quite contagious, keep an affected dog away from other canines for at least a month after treatment begins.
Most dogs have small numbers of the Demodex canis mites on their skin, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. In healthy dogs, these mites cause no issues. Problem ensue when too many mites invade a dog's hair follicles, then burrow into the sebaceous glands. Usually occurring in puppies or dogs under the age of 2, demodicosis causes hair loss, changes in skin pigment and the development of small, pimple-like infections. Demodicosis often occurs in the feet, with the dog constantly licking the area. Unlike scabies, dogs don't scratch much when affected with demodicosis, and the disease isn't contagious. Like scabies, the lesions can become infected. Older dogs suffering from demodicosis usually suffer from an underlying illness.
Cheyletiellosis, also known as walking dandruff, is not only extremely contagious in dogs but can affect people. The nickname comes from mites carrying small skin scales, so you might see what appears to be dandruff moving around your dog. Cheyletiellosis mites are larger than those causing other forms of mange, so you might observe them moving about the animal. While dogs might exhibit frequent itching, that's not always the case with walking dandruff. Hair loss occurs across the back, along with scaly lesions.
Your vet diagnoses the type of mange by physical examination and skin scrapings. Hair-clipping might be required for any type of mange. Your vet might recommend a series of lime sulfur dips along with an oral or injectable medication to kill mites. She might prescribe antibiotics to combat infection. Depending on the type of mange, your vet will prescribe specific medicated shampoos.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.