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What Is Mange?

Most people have heard someone refer to mange or mangy, but many people, particularly in Canada, don't realize exactly what mange actually is. If you're not sure, read on, while we explain what mange is, what causes it, and how it can be treated.

What Is Mange?

Mange is a skin condition, caused by mites, that causes itching, hair loss, and even in extreme cases, open wounds where dogs have been scratching themselves. These wounds can become crusty, scabby sores, and because of these symptoms, as you can imagine, it makes dogs (and other animals) who have it utterly miserable.

The good news is that mange is treatable, and while your dog is unlikely to ever be affected, it never hurts to know more!

What Causes Mange in Dogs?

Mange in dogs and in other mammals is caused by mites. Tiny insects that infest their host, feed on their blood, make them itch and cause all the terrible symptoms associated with mange.

There are two main kinds of mange that affect dogs: demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange, and they are each caused by different types of mite.

Of the two types of mange, sarcoptic mange is far more contagious, and passes easily between dogs and occasionally to other animals, including humans (although these mites don't usually stay on hosts other than dogs for too long!) When these mites land on a dog, the females burrow into the skin to lay eggs, and the results of this infestation cause the hugely unpleasant symptoms associated with these parasites!

Demodectic mange is usually asymptomatic, and most dogs have these mites on their skin without any trouble. When their immune systems are compromised, however, even these usually harmless mites get out of control, with similar although usually less devastating results!

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Mange

Demodectic mange can occur at any time, since most dogs will have these types of mites on their skin from birth. All it takes is an immune deficiency to trigger the problem.

Sarcoptic mange, however, is an infection that comes from contact with another infected dog. The signs and symptoms of sarcoptic mange usually show up about ten days after exposure, and stats with extreme itching.

As time goes by, itching turns into a red rash, then oozing and crusts, hair loss and secondary infection from scratching.

In very advanced and extreme cases, dogs may become emaciated, and other systems like lymph nodes may be affected.

How to Treat Mange

If your dog is unlucky enough to get mange, you will want to visit your vet. While there are some "home remedies" on the internet, in most cases, your dog will need a medicated shampoo or dip to get rid of the parasites, and may need medical attention for secondary infections and other problems. In some cases, areas where there are wounds or crusts will need to be shaved as well.

There are topical and oral treatments available to get rid of the mites that cause mange, and you will also need to dispose of bedding and sanitize and treat sleeping and other areas. If you have more than one dog, and one of them gets sarcoptic mange, it's almost certain to spread, so it's a good idea to seek treatment and advice for all of your dogs at the same time.

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