Mange is an intense itchy disease caused by parasitic mites. It is hard to imagine that something as tiny as a mite could cause such severe itching, but it does. The most common types in dogs are Demodectic Mange and Sarcoptic Mange with Cheyletiella known as “Walking Dandruff” increasingly being diagnosed. Cheyletiella mites affect dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and humans. In cats, Demodex mites are commonly diagnosed. Mange in cats is often a result of FeLv suppressing the immune system.
Demodex mange mites live in the hair follicles and glands of the skin, while Sarcoptic and Cheyletiella mange mites tend to burrow into the skin. The resulting irritation of the hair follicle causes severe itching, hair loss and scratching trauma.
, also known as “Red Mange”, occurs when mites suddenly multiply beyond what the dog can tolerate. Demodex can occur in both dogs and cats and is not contagious. Demodex mites can only transfer during the first week of life while nursing – they cannot get it as adults. Demodex mites are common in many species of animals and some have suggested it is a normal inhabitant of the skin.
Clinical signs may vary from dog to dog, since symptoms are related to the dog's ability to resist the mites. Some dogs are genetically resistant and will never show signs of mange. Dogs with no resistance have hair loss; itching and pain. Any dog with a suppressed immune system is at risk to show signs, and normal adult dogs with thyroid or cancer problems often break with Demodex. The primary symptom is patchy hair loss, usually occurring around the eyes or on parts of the face. With time, crusty red skin progressing to a greasy, moist appearance develops.
Treatment of mange is helped by clipping the hair and removing the crusty lesions. Topical treatment involves ointments, dips or medicated shampoos. Veterinarians often prescribe Ivermectin products orally or topical to treat mange from the inside out but Ivermectin cannot be used on Collies, Shelties or breeds containing Collie/Sheltie. Ivomec topical is advantageous as we know we are getting an accurate dose in the animal. Topical Ivomec 0.5% also called Ivomec/Ivermectin Pour-On
is dosed at 1cc/20# and put between the shoulder blades so they can't lick it. Licking it won’t hurt a dog or cat, but the alcohol carrier makes them salivate and look terrible. If you have collies or shelties you can use Revolution
on these sensitive breeds to get the same effect. Again be sure to never use Ivermectin on Collies, Shelties, or Collie/Sheltie mixed breeds.
Injectable Ivomec 1%
is used orally at a dose of 1cc/40# and usually mixed with Propylene Glycol
for dogs to sweeten the taste making it easier to get down them. Cats cannot have propylene glycol so use Doc Roy's® Forti Cal™
to sweeten the dose. Most take it well, but if they vomit or spit out the dose, you will have to redo as we need everyone’s parasites killed at the same time to avoid sharing back into the group.
has been very successful for localized lesions, and antibiotics may be needed for secondary bacterial infections. Insecticidal dips or Lime Sulfur Dip
is used to get at the mites in the hair follicles – both work well. Weekly bathing with a Sebo 322 shampoo
to regain skin health will speed recovery. Mange dogs will benefit from fatty acid supplement
and a high quality pet food; both help your pet fight mange by enhancing their natural defenses.
Some dogs will never clear Demodectic mange permanently and need regular treatment. Using Revolution
monthly after the initial treatment has been successful for controlling dogs with chronic Demodectic Mange.
Feline Demodex is mostly confined to kittens and to the ear area. Clinical signs include ceruminous ear discharge and itching. Ear mite treatment is effective if you include the area around the ear. Insecticide shampoos or dips labeled for cats are needed to eliminate the mites permanently. Often kittens acquire Ringworm, a fungal infection, in areas traumatized by scratching. ChlorConazole Antifungal shampoos
and ChlorConazole Sprays
are helpful in treating secondary bacterial and fungal issue.
Sarcoptic and Cheyletiella Mange
, commonly known as scabies infect both dogs and cats and cause intense itching. Both are contagious to adults. Contact with an infected animal or mite contaminated grooming equipment can transfer scabies and infect your pet.
attacks the skin of the ears, elbow and hocks early, but with time occupies all of your dog’s body. The onset is sudden, with symptoms of scratching, hair loss, inflamed skin and crusty ear tips.
may transfer to humans with skin-to-skin contact from your pet but humans are a temporary host as it does not like humans and won’t stay long.
Both are easy to acquire and easy to kill. Sarcoptic and Cheyletiella mite is very contagious so all dogs or cats in the family should also be treated to eliminate the problem, even if they do not show signs. Remember direct contact is not necessary to contract Sarcoptic mange - be sure to wash bedding and grooming items when treatment begins. Treatment as Demodex above is successful! You can treat the indoor environment with a residual insecticide to prevent re-infection.
Mange can be miserable for your pet but treatment is successful with a good plan! Shampoo to treat the crusty lesions; followed with a dip (Lime Sulfur Dip) to penetrate the hair pores and kill the mites and you should be successful.
- Dr. B
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.
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