There are two types of mange that affect dogs. Demodectic mange, also called “Demodex”, is caused by microscopic mites that normally live on the skin and in hair follicles. Demodex causes minimal itching, but the secondary bacterial skin infections associated with them can cause itching. Sarcoptic mange, or Scabies, is caused by sarocoptic mange mites. These mites dig tiny tunnels under the skin which causes intense itching. Dogs with scabies itch, dig and bite at themselves ferociously.
* There are two forms of demodectic mange in dogs: localized and generalized. The localized form causes hair loss on the face and front legs. This form is common in puppies. There is no itching and it often resolves spontaneously in four to eight weeks. Occasionally it gets worse and progresses into the generalized form.
* The generalized form of demodectic mange can affect the whole body and is more common in older dogs. Secondary bacterial skin infections and itching are common. The ears and feet may also be severely infected.
* Certain breeds have a hereditary predisposition and puppies three to six months old are usually affected. High-risk breeds include Sharpes, West Highland White Terriers, Great Danes and Airedales. Older dogs can get demodectic mange if their immune system is depressed because of drugs or an underlying disease like cancer.
* Dogs with Scabies suffer with oozing skin sores, hair loss, crusts and scabs. Secondary bacterial infections are common. Initially the itching and hair loss are most pronounced on the ear tips, elbows, legs and face. Sarcoptic mange mites burrow very deep into the skin, which makes them extremely hard to find, even with deep skin scrapings and skin biopsies.
* Scabies cases are often misdiagnosed as allergies with secondary bacterial infections.
WHAT YOUR VET CAN DO
* The generalized form of demodectic mange is confirmed by skin scrapings in which the mite is visualized under the microscope. Treatment is difficult and consists of long-term management of underlying concurrent diseases, as well as antibiotics and a series of miticidal dips. Severe cases may be fatal.
* For scabies, a product called Ivermectin given in two doses two weeks apart kills the mites. Itching subsides a few days after the first dose. The skin damage and secondary bacterial skin infections generally take a few weeks or months to resolve, depending on their severity. Revolution is a new monthly over-the-counter product available in a liquid form labeled as a preventative for heartworms and fleas which is also effective for Sarcoptic Mange.
Scabies is contagious to other dogs and humans. Everyone in the whole house can end up itching. In people, the mange usually clears up in a few weeks with or without treatment. Wear gloves and wash your hands well to decrease your exposure risk when handling infected animals.
Echinacea (purple cone flower): can be added to food or warm compresses of the infusion can be applied topically to infected areas.
Sulphur 6c is useful for both demodectic and sarcoptic mange: one pellet once a day for 30 days. Withhold food 10 minutes before and after treatment.
Immuno stimulant herbs such as Reishi and Astragalus as well as Vitamins A and E may be beneficial to enhance immune function in Demodex cases.
“Milbemycin” is the active ingredient in the product Sentinel, a monthly tablet labeled for prevention of heartworms, fleas, intestinal worms, and ear mites. Selamectin is a new monthly product approved in dogs (and cats) and is effective against ear mites, sarcoptic mange, heartworm and fleas.