Is your pet loosing hair on their face/around eyes/mouth/ears for no reason? They might be scratching themselves silly or not at all? It is a possibility that your pet has mange. Luckily, this is a treatable disease.
Kinds of Mange
- Demodectic Mange “Demodex”
- Sarcoptic Mange “Scabies”
Demodectic Mange “Demodex” is a mite that is normally found in the hair follicles of all cats and dogs, but can become a health problem when found in excessive amounts. The immune system usually keeps the mite numbers in check. Demodex mites can become excessive if the animal has a compromised immune system (ex. puppies, poor nutrition, stressed animals, parasite infestation, or chronic disease). Demodex is commonly found in young animals (3 months-1 year old) and animals that have had a history of demodex earlier in life. Demodex mites in canines are named Demodex canis and demodex mites in felines are named Demodex cati and Demodex gatoi. There are three different forms of demodex: Localized (isolated spots on body), Generalized (entire body is affected), and Demodectic Pododermatitis (paws are just affected).
- Alopecia (hair loss) on face, around eyes, mouth, and ears. If severe case, they can have hair loss on forelegs and trunk too.
- The mites feed on the hair follicle, which is what makes the hair fall out.
- Erythema (redness) with crusty patches can be seen. When this is seen it is called “Red Mange”.
- In severe cases (Generalized Demodex) the animal can have a fever, whole body hair loss, and a secondary skin infection.
- The most important clinical sign is that the animal is NONPURITIC (not itchy). This helps identify Demodex compared to other mange mites.
- Skin scraping. After treatment, the animal should be rechecked twice and have two negative scrapings to verify that treatment is working.
- Culture if secondary skin infection is present.
- Oral treatments
- Topical treatments
- Oral antibiotics if secondary skin infection present.
- In the old days there was a myth that dipping the animal in motor oil was a good home remedy. This is FALSE. Motor oil can cause severe rashes and destroy healthy skin. It can also be absorbed through the skin and cause blood pressure issues. PLEASE – do not dip you animal in motor oil.
- Prognosis is good in localized and pododermatitis forms if proper treatment is followed.
- The generalized form of Demodex can be fatal because of the severity of infection.
- Demodex canis and Demodex cati are not contagious to humans and other animals.
- Demodex gatoi is contagious to other animals and all animals in the household should be treated.
- It is important to know that treatments will never completely remove the mites. It will just help control them to normal numbers so it does not affect the animal’s skin.
- Relapse is possible because every mite cannot be killed, but it is more likely to happen if no recheck skin scrapes were preformed. Relapse is common 6-12 months after treatment.
- Breeders should not use previously infected animals because it can be hereditary.
- There is currently no preventative measures against Demodex. There are a few simple things you can do to avoid it. A healthy immune system can help prevent the recurrence of mange. It’s therefore important to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule, with lots of water and healthy meals, and plenty of exercise.
Sarcoptic Mange “Scabies” is a mite that burrows into the epidermis and lays eggs. This causes severe itching and inflammation within the skin. Scabies can infest almost all species of haired animals. It is very contagious to other animals and humans by direct contact. Scabies can occur in dogs/cats of any age, sex, or breed. Canine scabies mites are named Sarcoptic scabiei and feline scabies mites are named Notoedres cati.
- Red, crusty lesions on ears, elbows, and trunk of animal.
- Severely puritic (itchy)
- This distinguishes it from Demodectic Mange
- Secondary bacterial skin infections due to self trauma from itching.
- Skin scraping
- Skin biopsies
- Oral treatments
- Topical treatments
- Antibiotics to control secondary bacterial skin infection
- Anti-itch medications
- Prognosis is good if proper treatment is followed and the secondary bacterial infection is not extreme.
- Animals can remain contagious for 2-4 weeks during treatment.
- If you see red papules on yourself there is a chance you could have scabies. Contact your physician.
- There is currently no preventative measures against Scabies. There are a few simple things you can do to avoid it. A healthy immune system can help prevent the recurrence of mange. It’s therefore important to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule, with lots of water and healthy meals, and plenty of exercise. Also avoid contact with infected animals.
Brooks, Wendy C. “Demodectic Mange in Dogs.” Demodectic Mange in Dogs – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=630.
Brooks, Wendy C. “Notoedric Mange.” Notoedric Mange – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=512.
Brooks, Wendy C. Demodectic Mange in Cats – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1415.
Brooks, Wendy C. “Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies).” Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies) – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=616.
“Mange Mites.” Common Diseases of Companion Animals, by Alleice Summers, Elsevier/Mosby, 2014.
By: Jamie McAfee