What is Mange?

image of a dog scratching his chest with hindleg

Has your pet suddenly started losing hair? Mange may be to blame. The common skin condition affects dogs, cats and rabbits, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.

Tiny Mites Cause Big Problems

Mange is caused by a mite infestation. The microscopic parasites either burrow under your pet's skin or inhabit hair follicles or oil glands in the skin. Mange can be confined to a small area of your pet's coat or may affect the entire body. A small population of mites is always present on your furry friend's body. Symptoms only occur if the number of mites multiplies, or your pet has a weak immune system. Although mange is more common in dogs, it does occur in cats and rabbits, particularly those that live with dogs.

Signs and Symptoms of Mange

If your pet has mange, you may notice these signs and symptoms:

  • Hair Loss. Hair loss may be widespread or patchy. Commonly affected areas include the face, head, ears, neck, elbows, abdomen, chest and legs.
  • Scratching. Mange causes severe itching, triggering almost constant scratching. Scratching can worsen hair loss and may break the skin, increasing the risk of infection.
  • Skin Irritation. You may notice red, inflamed skin if your pet has mange.
  • Infections. Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin can add to your pet's discomfort.
  • Greasy Skin and Coat. A greasy skin and coat is not normal for most pets and may be a sign of mange.
  • Lesions. When mites burrow into your cat, dog or rabbit's skin, crusty sores may form.
  • Dandruff. Does your pet suddenly have dandruff? The condition occurs when tiny pieces of skin begin to flake away due to the condition.
  • Bumps. Military dermatitis, tiny bumps on your pet's skin, may also be a sign of mange.
  • Thick Skin. If mange is not treated promptly, the skin in the affected areas may thicken.
  • Poor Sleep. Itching usually intensifies at night and can affect the quality of your pet's sleep.

How is Mange Diagnosed?

Your pet's veterinarian can often tell your pet has mange simply by examining its coat. Skin scrapings examined under a microscope confirm the diagnosis.

How is Mange Treated?

Your pet's veterinarian will prescribe topical or oral medications that kill mites. Medicated shampoos and dips can also be helpful. Antibiotics or anti-fungal medication may be needed if your pet develops an infection as a result of the mite infestation. Since your other pets can catch mange, it's important to treat all of your animals, even if they show no signs or symptoms. Washing bedding, blankets and other items that your pet uses and vacuuming floors and upholstery will help prevent a re-infestation.

Can I Catch Mange?

Although many types of mites only affect pets, some can also cause symptoms in people. For example, you can develop sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, if your skin comes in contact with your pet's. Symptoms of scabies in humans include itching that worsens at night, a red bumpy rash and lesions on the skin. Your doctor can prescribe topical medication that will kill the mites.

Does your pet have any of the signs or symptoms of mange? If you are concerned about a skin condition or other health problem, call us today to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.


Sources:

Peteducation.com: Demodectic Mange
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2101&aid=729

VetSTREET:Have a Mangy Cat? 5 Mites That Can Frustrate Your Feline, 5/19/14
http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/have-a-mangy-cat-5-mites-that-can-frustrate-your-feline

Merck Veterinary Manual: Mange in Dogs and Cats
http://www.merckvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/mange/mange-in-dogs-and-cats

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