While the term “mangy mutt” is insulting, there’s no question many rescue dogs suffer from this skin condition. Common types of mange are found in dogs, sarcoptic mange – or scabies – and demodectic mange. Both types result from mite infestation. If you foster or adopt a dog with mange, keep him separated from any other dogs until he’s cured and the vet gives you the go ahead.
Scabies. Dogs suffering from scabies look and feel pretty dreadful. The itching is intense, and the animal loses hair and develops secondary bacterial and/or yeast infections. Without prompt treatment, the lesions and hair loss spread over the entire body. Your vet makes a diagnosis via skin scrapings. If there are other dogs in your household, they require treatment as well, even if asymptomatic. Fortunately, selamectin – the active ingredient in the flea and tick control/dewormer Revolution – will eradicate mange mites. The affected dog requires a heartworm test before receiving this topical drug.
The vet may prescribe antibiotics and antifungal medication for secondary infections. In puppies, a series of lime sulfur dips should kill the mites.
Take precautions – scabies mites don’t discriminate between canines and humans. Canine mites can’t live on you, but they can stick around long enough to cause a rash.
“Canine mites can’t live on you, but they can stick around long enough to cause a rash.”
Demodectic Mange. Small numbers of demodectic mites live on every dog, causing no issues. Puppies may go through a bout of demodicosis, a formal name for the condition, and recover without treatment. In older dogs, demodectic mange occurs when the dog’s immune system becomes impaired, allowing the mites to flourish. Malnutrition, stress and similar situations experienced by neglected dogs may trigger demodectic mange. This type of mange doesn’t cause as much itching as scabies, but there is hair loss and skin infection. Some types of “hot spots” are actually demodectic mange. Skin scrapings are taken for diagnosis.
Ivermectin, a dewormer used for heartworm prevention, eliminates excess mange mites. Dogs of collie heritage should not receive this medication. Other drugs are available to fight demodicosis, and as with scabies antibiotics and medicated shampoos are used for treating infected lesions.
With proper treatment and a good diet, that mangy mutt should look like a magnificent mixed breed in no time.
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