Mange? Mites? What’s the difference?
Mange is a skin disease caused by several species of tiny mites which are miniature eight-legged parasites related to spiders. All mites can cause mild to severe skin infections if they proliferate. While there are several types of mange mites that affect companion canines, there are only two primary culprits for mange misery.
- Sarcoptes scabei, known as the Sarcoptic mite or scabies mite causes Sarcoptic mange. This nasty creature is highly contagious to humans and almost all other animals and should be dealt with swiftly.
- Demodex canis, or Demodectic mite causes demodectic mange (often called red mange or puppy mange). It’s a natural inhabitant of every dog’s skin but when it gets out of control can cause serious mayhem.
How do I know if my dog has mange?
That’s a tough one. Mange mite symptoms mimic other conditions and cause much confusion. The typical diagnostic procedure is to do a skin scraping and examine the results under a microscope. The problem is this test is notoriously unreliable.
Certain mites move fast and others are so deep that they can’t be accessed without a biopsy. Either way, skin scrapings turn up negative about 80% of the time, even when mites are actually present. This often leads the vet off in another direction, and nine times out of ten, the diagnosis is allergies.
Unfortunately, a round of antibiotics, antihistamines and steroids typically follows an allergy diagnosis. If the problem happens to be allergies, these may help. However, if the problem is actually mites, these won’t cure anything. In truth, they will cause the problem to get worse because steroids and antibiotics suppress the immune system, allowing the mite population to. It’s can be a trial and error scenario so if you find yourself in this situation, insist that no steroids be given and ask your vet to instead try treating with one of the newer drugs geared for contact dermatitis and skin allergies. If these don’t help, you’ll know the problem isn’t allergies or dermatitis. Also, if you and/or others in your household are itching, that’s a strong indication you’re dealing with Sarcoptic mites. And if your pooch is a puppy or has known immune deficiencies, those are strong precursors of Demodex.
What Are the General Symptoms of Mange in Dogs?
The symptoms of mange depend on which type of mite is present. Generally, symptoms of mites can include:
- Patchy hair loss
- Scaly, reddened skin
- Irritated skin that will not heal
- Rash, bumps or sores
- Skin discoloration
- Itching, sometimes to the point of self-mutilation
- Chronic skin scratching, biting or chewing
- Agitation, nervousness or restlessness
- Obvious discomfort in the animal
A tremendous amount of information on each particular type of mange mite can be found throughout this section, in our blog and in our free e-booklet, Managing the Misery of Mange Mites. Download it here.
Is Mange Contagious?
Yes and no. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious. The current thinking is that Demodex mites can be transferred from one dog to another—but as long as the dog is healthy, the mites simply add to the dog’s natural mite population and no skin disease results. Isolation of dogs with even the most severe Demodex cases is still felt to be unnecessary. It is exceedingly rare for them to be transmitted to humans or cats. Both types of mite infestations are progressive and spontaneous recovery does not happen except in mild cases of Demodectic mange in puppies.
Are Certain Dogs Prone to Mange?
Any dog can get mange. Popular opinion use to be that only scruffy, unkempt digs got mange but nothing could be further from the truth. Mange is becoming more common by the day and there’s nothing you as an owner did to cause it. We covered this more in our blog here.
However, generalized demodectic mange, the more serious, pervasive kind, is more common in certain breeds of dogs. Click here to read an in-depth article on the subject.
How Is Mange Treated?
Regrettably, conventional treatments for mites and mange haven’t changed much in decades. Most involve risky, toxic chemicals that have poor success rates. Typically, dogs are loaded up with harsh systemic pesticides that turn their entire bodies into a poisoned food source, even when they have mites that aren’t flesh eaters. It’s no wonder their success rate is a dismal 67% and there are so many side effects.
Conventional wisdom in the medical world involves rotating treatments until achieving a combination that works. It can take a while for all this to play out. For example, it’s not unusual for Ivermectin treatments to last up to a year. Click here to read a rundown on the most popular veterinary options. And if that’s not horrifying enough, click here to learn about their risks.
Fortunately, if you’ve chosen to take control of your dog’s health yourself, you have another choice.
Nature provides powerful tools that have been proven effective over and over. Sadly, alternative natural treatment is often overlooked in favor more questionable chemical options. Conventional veterinary medicine is grounded in pharmacology and shuns alternative treatments. (Did you know many courses in vet schools are actually taught or underwritten by drug and pet food companies?) Practitioners who cling to this mantra may simply be uninformed, threatened or perhaps protective of lucrative return visits, but whatever the reason, we can safely say that natural is not the first option unless an owner is a proactive advocate for their dog’s health and insists it be that way. Once an owner makes the decision to get out of line and look at alternatives, they may be surprised to find out many great resources they have.
Curing mange is best done naturally and with a holistic program to heal your dog.
Mite Avenge is an incredibly effective mite killer that worked in many cases where nothing else has because it’s safe for your pet but lethal to mites. Unlike toxic poisons and chemicals, there’s nothing artificial in it and it’s designed to help with the healing process after the mites are dead. Read what’s in it here. It works faster than chemical treatments with no side effects. We’re here to help you every step of the way but the first step is to download our free e-booklet.
Sarcoptic mites can overtake an entire household in weeks and drive a dog to mutilate itself.
Mites aren’t to be trifled with. Sarcoptic mites can overtake an entire household in weeks and drive a dog to mutilate itself. Demodex can progress from localized to generalized, eventually becoming a chronic nightmare. The least your pet will deal with is progressive hair loss and itching. The worst can culminate in death. All mites are parasites that cause your pet to suffer and few cases resolve themselves on their own. Your pet is depending on you for compassionate help.