Seeing the early signs of mange on our dogs is frightening. Did I not wash him enough? Or have I been using the wrong shampoo? Scabies mites are not caused by poor hygiene. Any dog can get mange when he or she comes into close contact with an infected dog in dog parks, doggy daycares, or grooming parlors.
Mange causes extreme discomfort in dogs. It has the power to reduce their quality of life if left untreated. Thankfully, mange is a treatable skin disease. There are countless medications available to treat mite infestation. In fact, even dogs who have severe mange, especially rescue dogs, can still recover and have a happy, healthy life. It just takes patience and dedication to remove these parasites. Keep on reading to know how it’s treated.
Two types of mange affect dogs: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange. Each is caused by a different parasite and requires different treatment. Sarcoptic mange is caused by the mite Sarcoptes scaibei. This type of mange causes extreme itching in dogs and is known to spread to animals and even humans.
Demodectic mange, the second type of mange, is caused by the parasite Demodex Canis. The only difference being, these parasites are already present and are generally harmless to our dogs. They only become a problem when the host has a weak immune system. Demodectic mange does not spread to humans.
According to the American Kennel Club, symptoms of sarcoptic mange show 10 days to 8 weeks after contact. These symptoms are:
- Extreme itching
- Hair loss
- Redness and rash
- Thick yellow crusts and scales
- Painful sores
- Secondary yeast or bacterial infection
How to Treat Mange in Dogs
Be sure it’s Mange!
The first and most important step to treating mange is, in fact, making sure it’s mange. Several skin conditions and tick and flea problems show the same symptoms. Tick and flea problems require a different method that’s completely different from scabies treatment. On top of that, there are two types of mange. You need to be able to identify which type your dog has. In some unfortunate cases, they can suffer from both types. Typically, however, demodectic mange is the milder form of mange.
If you suspect your dog has mange, you need to bring your dog to the veterinarian. Your dog must be properly diagnosed so he can be given the right treatment. In essence, mange treatment though effective can have serious side effects if not used correctly. Your veterinarian can not only guide you through the process but inform you of the risks involved. So, to be safe, take him to the vet.
There are two forms of demodectic mange: localized and generalized. Localized means it’s only in a small area, while generalized mange is found in the entire body. Often, localized demodectic mange heal without any treatment. According to 1800 PetMeds, about 90% of young, healthy dogs get better within 2 months without treatment. They only need a topical antibacterial treatment to prevent bacterial skin infection that can develop from abrasion.
For some cases of localized mange, topical treatments may be necessary. As I said, your veterinarian will know what to do best. He may recommend imidacloprid and moxidectin as “off-label” use. Off-label means a drug is used to treat conditions other than the use it was originally approved for.
If your dog is diagnosed with generalized demodectic mange, he will need more aggressive treatment. A combination of medicated shampoos and dips, along with oral medicines, is usually the prescription. Additionally, some cases of mange will have secondary infections. If this happens, he will be given antibiotics. Pet owners must be aware that generalized demodectic mange is a lengthy treatment. Regular skin scraping should be performed every 1-2 weeks to look at the progress. And at least 1-2 successive negative scrapings must be made before the treatment can stop. To avoid reappearance an extra week may be wise.
Pets with mange also greatly benefit from supplements that have healthy fatty acids and antioxidants that boost their immunity. Fish oil is a good supplement as it has properties that promote a healthy coat and help them fight off diseases.
There are different methods for treating sarcoptic mange. But usually, you’ll hear sulfur and lime (sulfurated lime) and amitraz as effective dips. This section will talk in detail about the things you need to know about each one.
A combination of sulfur and lime is a safe dip to use on dogs and puppies. This solution is used to kill bacteria, parasites, and fungal infections in dogs. It’s also known to relieve your pet of itching caused by parasites and ringworm. Now, how do you apply this? Sulfurated lime is used as a dip every 5-7 days with a ratio of four ounces in one gallon of water. This is repeated for several weeks until skin scrapings show there are no more mites for at least a month.
If this ratio does not seem to be working, the solution can be increased to 8 ounces per gallon of water. Also, washing with a shampoo that contains benzoyl peroxide beforehand can help open the skin follicles and leave the mite more exposed to the dip. After which, when it’s time to dip him, do it in a well-ventilated room. The sulfur solution will have an odor, but it won’t last long. Do not towel him dry but make sure he’s not cold as well.
Amitraz is a chemical that’s used to kill insects and spiders on plants and pets. I cannot stress this enough, but amitraz can have dangerous side effects for you and your pet when improperly used. Wear rubber gloves and protective eye equipment to avoid contact with your skin. To protect your pet, put an ointment designed to protect your pet’s eyes and cotton balls in his ears. The following are other recommended tips to make it safe for you and your pet:
- Don’t use on pets with bacterial infections.
- Clip your pet’s hair short.
- Remove any jewelry.
- Wash your pet first with benzoyl peroxide to open skin follicles.
- After you’ve placed cotton balls in his ears and protective eye ointment in his eyes, gently sponge the areas around his head. And avoid getting the dips in his mouth or lips.
- Leave the dip and do not towel him dry. Do not get him wet in between treatments.
- Repeat the dip every 1-2 weeks.
- Choose a well-ventilated place to dip your dog.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after treatment.
All in all, the frequency of the dips may vary depending on your veterinarian’s recommendation. Most likely, he will also walk you through the process and how you can keep it safe. In addition to the dips, he can also recommend oral medications and topical medicines. At home, wash your dog’s beddings, blankets, collars, and toys with hot water and soap to avoid reinfection. Furthermore, you will need to separate him from other pets in the household. As an additional caution, you can invest in flea collars that contain amitraz as well.
On another note, a small number of people, between 10%-20%, may develop a rash from handling pets with scabies. While this will go away on its own after the mites are successfully eradicated, you may want to contact your physician to relieve the itch. You can read more about canine scabies affecting humans on Can You Get Scabies From A Dog?
Mange is a troublesome disease for our pets. Luckily, there are a lot of medicines available for our furry friends. Just remember to consult your veterinarian for the best results.