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Health & Wellness

Mange in dogs: symptoms and treatments

Explaining the two types of mange

When you spot changes in a dog’s skin, like dryness or crustiness and hair loss, finding a solution becomes your main objective. Did you know that these are two symptoms of a condition called mange? The Dig explains more about the two types of mange that dogs are at risk of contracting, so you know how to help your best friend get some skin relief. 

What is mange in dogs? 

According to Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, mange in dogs is a skin infection caused by mites, which are arachnids related to spiders and ticks. 

Causes and symptoms of mange in dogs

Dr. McCullough says that there are two types of mange dogs can get: sarcoptic and demodectic mange.

Sarcoptic mange, otherwise known as scabies, is caused by Sarcoptes mites. Dogs contract sarcoptic mange through contact with an infected animal and can then pass it along to other animals and people. 

Crusty skin around a dog’s ears, elbows and back legs are signs of sarcoptic mange. If your dog is itching a lot, they may lose hair and have scratches.

According to Dr. McCullough, demodectic mange is caused by Demodex mites. These mites live on a pup’s skin, but dogs’ immune systems work to keep the numbers of mites low and controlled. But, if a dog struggles with underlying conditions, has a suppressed immune system or is taking certain medications, Demodex mites can multiply and cause mange.

If your dog has demodectic mange, they may experience hair loss, scaly and crusty skin and redness. Demodectic mange can affect any part of your dog’s body, but the feet and lower limbs are most commonly impacted.

Certain dog breeds, like Chinese Shar-Peis, pitbulls, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers (among several others), have a greater risk of developing demodectic mange. Unfortunately, though, Dr. McCullough says that the reason is unknown. 

Early stages of mange in dogs

It’s important to know the early stages of mange in dogs so you can get your dog help as soon as possible. “In sarcoptic mange, the early stages may just be an intense itch,” Dr. McCullough says. “The early stages of demodectic mange may include small circular patches of hair loss, especially on the face.”

How to treat mange in dogs

The treatment options for both sarcoptic and demodectic mange in dogs are similar. Your veterinarian may recommend topical medications, lime sulfur dips or oral flea and tick medications (as some also fight against mites) in the case of both types of mange, Dr. McCullough explains.

Even if your other pets aren’t showing signs of sarcoptic mange after being around an infected animal, they should still receive treatment. Sarcoptic mange is easily spreadable among animals, so it’s essential to get your other pets the care they need immediately after contact with an infected pet, Dr. McCullough adds. 

Mild cases of both types of mange typically take between 1 to 2 weeks to recover, while more severe cases can take weeks to months. Dr. McCullough suggests talking to your veterinarian about anti-itch medications to ease their symptoms while your dog is recovering —  and don’t forget to support your pup with lots of love, too.

“TLC and careful monitoring are all a pet needs once treatment has started,” Dr. McCullough says. 

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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