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Mange is a skin condition that is characterized by hair loss or the poor condition of the hairy coat. It is caused by parasitic mites, and commonly affects dogs, cats, and livestock. Several species of parasitic mites can be responsible for causing mange in dogs. These microscopic mites burrow through the layers of their skin. The symptoms of this contagious skin disease include intense itching, scaling, and bald patches on the dog's coat. Some of the types could be contagious.

Contributing Factors

Though some mites might already be residing on dog, without causing any harm, dogs with a compromised immune system are at a risk. Mange is the general term used for infections caused by different types of mites. The infestation of cheyletiella mites, demodex mites, sarcoptes scab mites, and otodectes mites cause this condition in canines. The symptoms would vary, depending on the type of mite.

Cheyletiellosis is a highly infectious condition caused by Cheyletiella mites. This condition is also referred to as 'walking dandruff', as these mites can be seen moving along the dog's skin or coat and appear like walking dandruff flakes.

Sarcoptic mange is also an infectious condition. It is also called scabies. These mites burrow or dig into the layers of the skin. The female mite lays eggs, which grow into adult mites. They reproduce quickly, giving rise to an infestation.

Most dogs have a small number of demodex mites residing on their skin. Problems arise when the immune system is not able to control their population. This skin condition could be localized or generalized.

Otodectes mites could cause an infection, when they enter the dog's ears. Though dog ear mites infections might not be generally classified as mange, the clinical signs are quite similar.

Symptoms

Sarcoptic Mange
A dog affected by this condition is likely to experience the following symptoms:
  • Severe itchiness
  • Scratching
  • Hair loss on the outer side of the ears, elbows, hind legs, chest, groin, or abdomen
  • Behavioral changes such as aggression and lack of interest in playing
If left untreated, it can lead to depression, weight loss, and severe hair loss.

Cheleytiella Mange
Cheyletiellosis or walking dandruff is highly infectious. It can give rise to symptoms such as:
  • Marked skin scaling that is usually visible on the dog's back
  • Mites that can be seen moving on the dog's skin
  • Mild itching and scratching (not as intense as in the case of scabies)
This condition is contagious, which is why it is advisable to avoid direct contact with the dog.

Demodectic Mange
This type of mange is characterized by the following symptoms:
  • Localized patchy hair loss usually occurs around the eyes, lips, corners of the mouth, and paws. The skin around these areas may become scaly, crusty, and oily.
  • Generalized patchy hair loss occurs on the head, legs, and trunk. If left untreated, secondary bacterial infections might also occur along with mite infestation.
Treatment

If you notice these symptoms in your dog, you must consult a veterinarian soon. First isolate the infected dog, so as to prevent the infection from spreading to other pets. Some types of mange are contagious to humans, which is why owners must take all possible precautions. The treatment might involve the use of:
  • Medicated shampoos and dips
  • Antifungal and antibacterial medications to treat secondary infections
Following certain measures can help prevent this condition. Dog owners can use a mixture of borax and hydrogen peroxide while giving a bath to the pet. It is very important to maintain good hygiene, so changing the dog's bedding and collar frequently can also help prevent this condition. Precautionary measures such as de-worming and vaccinations might also be of great help.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.