Mange! It's something we don't like to think about as dog owners. Thank you to Eve Pearce for this guest post about this important topic. My dog, Pepper, had demodex mange when I adopted him and it took six months to eradicate it, but it wasn't a big deal.
Helping Your Dog Recover from Mange
Mange is a disease which makes dog owners shudder and starts us itching at the very thought. No one likes the idea of our beloved pets carrying unwanted crawly visitors. There are three types of mange to which dogs are prone and they require different treatments and care programmes; the prevalence of mange means it’s sensible to be informed and alert for signs; mange is easiest treated if caught early.
Demodectic Mange is also known as ‘red mange’, it is caused by a mite called Demodex canis. This mite is naturally present on all dogs; new-born puppies have the mite passed to them by their mothers duringnursing in the very early days of life. Healthy dogs will live perfectly happily with their mites and show no ill-effects; however for dogs with weakened immune systems the mites can become problematic. If the population of mites grows too large then the unpleasant symptoms of demodectic mange will result.
It is believed that most dogs have a natural resistance which prevents the number of mites they carry becoming overwhelming; the lack of this resistance may be genetic and hereditary.Demodex canis mites can be passed from one dog to another, however in a healthy dog the new mites are likely to simply add to their existing mite population; it is only in a dog with a weak immune system, which is vulnerable to infection that mange is likely to result.
The symptoms of demodectic mange are hair loss, scabbing and sores; in order to diagnose the problem the dog must be taken to the veterinarian. A skin scrape will be taken and analysed under a microscope.
The treatment for demodectic mange will depend on the nature of the attack, sometimes the infestation remains localised, these usually self-heal without any need for medical intervention. If the demodectic mange is generalised in nature and coversmost, or all, of your dog’s body then you will need a comprehensive and extensive treatment programme to ensure eradication of the problem.
As all pet owners know any veterinary treatment tend to be expensive and the words ‘comprehensive and extensive’ don’t sound cheap. It is always an excellent investment to purchase health insurance for your pets. Animal care can run into thousands of dollars frighteningly quickly and costs are expected to rise; no one who loves their animal wants to be in the heart-breaking position of having to stop treating their beloved pet because they simply cannot find the funds to continue.
People are more likely to claim on their pet insurance than on their car, home or travel insurance, which demonstrates the usefulness of having this sort of cover. Pet insurance varies a great deal between providers so take the time to compare cover and read reviews on healthy pet insurance; make sure that you’re getting the best level of cover and the best deal for you and your pet.
The second type of mange which may affect your dog is sarcoptic mange, also called canine scabies. Sarcoptic mange is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. This type of mange is highly contagious and can be easily passed from dog to dog, sarcoptic mange is also prevalent in red foxes and, although incidence of cross-contamination between dogs and foxes are rare, it is wise to prevent your dog coming into contact with foxes where possible. Sarcoptic mange can also be passed to humans so hygiene precautions are important, wash your hands well after handling your infected dog, ensure children do not pet the dog and prevent your dog sleeping in your bed. Although canine scabies can be passed to humans, this is not the same as human scabies and will last only temporarily and will not spread.
Sarcoptic mange can be very unpleasant for dogs, causing severe itching and hair loss; a dog which experiences these symptoms should be taken to the vet at once, in order for a diagnosis to be made. The vet will prescribe a course of treatment which will have to be followed for at least four weeks, in order to cover the life-cycle of the mite. Because the mites are transmitted easily between animals, any other dogs in the household should also be treated and bedding and soft-furnishings should be treated with an insecticide.
Cheyletiellosis is also known as ‘walking dandruff’ and is caused by cheyletiella mites which move under the skin causing an effect which looks like the dandruff is actually moving on the dog, giving rise to the common name. This mite is most often found in pet shops and kennels and can live for some time in straw and bedding. Symptoms of cheyletiellosis are dandruff, scratching, rash and mild hair loss; sometimes the mites will inhabit the nasal cavity leading to sneezing and scratching at the face.
There are several different species of cheyletiella mite, living on different domestic animals such as cats and rabbits and it is possible to cross-contaminate between species; for that reason if one animal in the home is diagnosed, all the pets should be treated.
Humans can also be infected by the cheyletiella mite, however they will not reproduce and the infection will be temporary. If cheyletiellosis is suspected then the dog should be taken to the vet, who will take skin scrapings to allow diagnosis. The vet will prescribe a treatment program; during the time treatment takes place all bedding must also be treated with an insecticide.
Mange can be an unpleasant, irritating and painful experience for your pet, however, with good medical care and careful following of the treatment procedures, the infestation can be minimised and your dog helped back to good health.