What is Mange and How do you Treat It?

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What is Mange?

Mange is a skin disease which is caused by several species of mites. Some mites are naturally found in our dog’s skin and hair; however, others may not. All mites, regardless of if they are naturally found or not, have the potential to cause mild to severe skin infections. The most common type of mange, Demodex, lives on dogs naturally and even lives on humans naturally.

The Demodex mite is not rare and the majority of healthy pets possess a certain number of demodex without problems. If your pet has a weakened immune system, the mites multiply quickly as the dog’s body is not able to maintain the mite population properly. The increased number of mites will results in a severe health condition which leaves the skin bald and leathery.

Breeds Prone to Developing Mange

Dogs less than 18 months of age are prone to localized demodectic mange which often clears on its own. Generalized demodectic mange is more serious and has been found to be hereditary most often affecting:

Senior dogs who have an underlying medical condition, regardless of breed, are also more prone to developing mange. Other factors which affect mange include:

  • Anxiety
  • Pregnancy
  • Heartworms
  • Intestinal worms
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Medications

Symptoms of Mange

The symptoms of mange depend upon the type of mite causing the condition. Demodectic mange often leads to hair loss, scabbing and sores. Sarcoptic mange causes extreme itching and results in restlessness, hair loss, reddened skin, scabs and sores most commonly on the ears, elbows, face and legs. The skin also becomes leathery in texture and appearance after a period of time.

Causes of Mange

There are several types of mange in dogs. Sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies, is caused by microscopic mites and is easily transferred between hosts. All dogs possess demodectic mange mites which are transferred from mother to pup during cuddling in the first few days of life. Most dogs do not have a problem with demodex mites; however, some may experience severe cases of mange from them.

Treating Mange

If your dog has mange, you should consult a veterinarian. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination and take skin scrapings to be analyzed under a microscope. Depending on the type of mange, medication may be prescribed to be given orally, via shampoo, topically or by injection. These treatments must be given exactly as the veterinarian prescribes them as these can be toxic to dogs in large amounts.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.