What is Mange?
Mange is a disease of the skin, generally found in mammals. It is caused by parasitic mange mites that burrow down into the skin, and can affect cats, dogs, rabbits, and other animals. There are a massive variety of mange mites but actually very few of these will affect pets.
The mange mites themselves are incredibly small, and cannot normally be seen by the naked eye. However the burrowing effects they leave behind can be somewhat dramatic and the animal’s reaction to the intense itching (biting, scratching, or licking the area of the mite infestation until it becomes broken, raw, and/or infected with bacteria) that often indicates a case of mange in most pets.
There are three main types of mange that affect animals–
• Notoedric Mange: This is a very scaly skin disease and it usually starts in the ears, or around the ear region of the body and it can spread very fast if it is not quickly treated. This type of mange can be spread between many pets such as rabbits, cats and dogs, but it can also be spread to humans as well, in the form of scabies. Since this type of mange is most frequent in cats, however, it is sometimes referred to as cat mange or feline scabies.
• Sarcoptic Mange: This skin disease is incredibly itchy, and because it is so common in dogs, it is sometimes referred to as canine scabies. As a general rule, the mange mites usually burrow in the areas of the body which have no fur, such as the abdomen and the elbows. Although this is a disease common to dogs, it can be spread to both cats and humans, but the affects do not usually last for very long with these species. In dogs, the burrowing affects can be very severe and can lead to infection of the sore areas if not promptly and correctly treated.
• Demodectic Mange: The mites of the demodectic mange seriously affect the hair follicles and can be very, very itchy. This is a hard type of mange to cure, especially once it has spread to the rest of the body. You may find, however, dogs can have this type of mange for a long time before you notice any real symptoms, as the mites do not generally cause a real problem at first. Demodectic mange cannot be spread to any other animals, but a pregnant dog can spread the disease to her pups, so it is best to have them checked if this is the case.
Demodectic mange is also often referred to as Demo mange, red mange, red fox mange, fox mange, or seven year itch.
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Summary of Mange
• Mange is caused by mites with a tendency to burrow deep within the skin.
• There are three main types of mange which can affect household pets – Notoedric, Sarcoptic and Demodectic Mange.
• Spotting mange mites is nearly impossible and only the symptoms will reveal whether or not a pet has mange.
• Mange can be spread between different species of animals and even to humans.
• Mange can be spread from an infected mother to her children.
Diagnosis of Mange
Most diagnoses are based on spotting the symptoms of the mange mite burrowing into the skin or hair follicles rather than catching a sighting of a mite itself. The mites are tiny and cannot normally be seen by the naked eye, so this can make diagnosis rather difficult, although there are ways around this.
A skin scraping of the areas believed to be where the mange mites are, can show some indications of mange in your pet. However, if the mites have burrowed further down than the skin scraping goes, the sample will not show any evidence of mites on the pet. Once the sample has been taken, it will need to be closely analyzed and inspected under a microscope to determine any infection caused by the burrowing, and also to check if any mites are actually present on the animal.
A skin inspection will also need to have taken place, by taking a closer look at the areas in which mites or their symptoms are normally found, to see if there is any sign of wounds that could be caused by mites. These areas include the ears, abdomen, and leg joints.
There is another type of diagnosis that can be performed for dogs and is commonly called the “Pedal-Pinna Reflex” Despite its complicated sounding name, it is actually very simple. By stimulating and lightly scratches the animal’s ear to see if it will raise one of his or hers hind leg to scratch the area. If done correctly, this can give a correct diagnosis of mites and mange in 95% of all cases.
There are some pretty basic symptoms you can look for if you think your pet has mange. These include any hair loss in unusual places on the body, inflammation of the skin, and also broken or infected skin due to constant scratching resulting from the intense itch caused by the mites burrowing, feeding, and breeding on and in the animal’s skin. Also, in moderate to severe cases of mange, while the mites are nearly impossible to see, the evidence of their activity is visible to the naked eye. The image to the left clearly shows the hair loss and mites’ burrows zigzagging across a dog’s skin.
Summary of Mange Diagnosis
• Skin inspection to look for scratches, hair loss and inflammation.
• Skin scraping to check for mites under microscope.
• Pedal-Pinna Reflex (in dogs only)
Treatment of Mange
Treatment of mange will very much depend on the severity of the case, the type of mange that your pet has, and also the species of your pet. It can also depend on the personal preferences of the owner and severity of the infestation and/or presence of skin infections on the pet, due to constant scratching.
Minor cases of mange can be treated with Sulfinex and Mange Treatment Spray which contain oils and agents to specifically treat mange on animals. If an infection has been caused by the pets scratching or the burrowing action of the mites then Healing & Protection Spray or Healing Gel may accompany any treatment to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread or cause any more undue pain or discomfort for the pet.
More severe cases of mange will also use our Medicated Pet Wash in addition to Mange Treatment Spray and Sulfinex. These agents may be used once or twice or week and will be accompanied by regular applications of Healing Gel or Spray. The treatment should continue several weeks after symptoms stop, and the skin has healed and/or hair has started to regrow. Pets’BestRx Mighty Vites may accompany the treatment to ensure the pet is getting the proper vitamins and minerals it needs.
Pets with mange need to be isolated away from other pets so that the infestation cannot be further spread. Bedding will need to be taken away from the pet as well and it has to be thoroughly cleaned with Disinfectant Spray or Xtreme Cleen. Do not reintroduce the bedding, toys or any other items that the pet usually uses until the infestation has been contained and treated. If re-infection occurs or the pet is not treated, the bed cleaning will have to be repeated again and again until the pet is mange-free.
Summary of Treatment
• Treatment depends on severity, preferences of owner, type of mange and species of pet.
• Pets’BestRx Mange Treatments includes Mange Treatment Spray, Sulfinex Cream, Medicated Pet Wash, and Mighty Vites.
• Pets may need to be quarantined or isolated for the duration of the treatment.
• Household furnishings and pets bedding must be cleaned with Disinfectant Spray or Xtreme Cleen to prevent re-infestation from their environment.
Prevention of Mange
One of the most basic preventative measures of mange is to keep your pet away from other pets that already have mange or the mites that cause it. Also, keep your pet away from stray animals such as dogs or cats, wild animals and areas where infested animals have been. This is more common sense than anything, but it is amazing how many pet owners do not follow these simple guidelines.
Proper care for your pet will ensure that it doesn’t get mange and this should be followed by high standards of hygiene, with all the family and not just your pets. There are some types of mange mites that can affect both humans and pets and these are more easily spread. Undernourished pets have more of a risk of contracting mange as do animals that are not cared for properly by their owners. Pets can also contract mange from mothers during birth so if a mother is known to have mange, the litter should be tested and treated as soon as possible.
Summary of Prevention
• Keep your pet away from infested animals and stray or wild animals that are more likely to have mange.
• Healthier pets are less likely to be affected by mange, so care for your pet should be of the highest standards and should be well fed and taken to the Vet for regular checkups.
• Treat young animals as soon as possible if the mother has been reported to have mange to prevent further damage and also infestation to other animals.
A note about animals
There are so many different types of mange but only a few of them can actually affect your pets. Fewer still can be passed on to humans and those that are don’t usually have affects for very long. However, pets with mange should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to prevent any discomfort and the home must be treated accordingly. If treatment is not administered early on to the home furnishings, the animal can become re-infested when treatment has stopped and the whole process would have to begin all over again
Increased risk of Mange
Some pets do have an increased risk of contracting mange, these include young pets that have not been cared for in the appropriate manner. Undernourished pets are at a higher risk, as are litters that have been produced from a mother that has mange. Pets should always be cared for properly, having regular checkups with a Vet, fed the appropriate food and bathed to ensure the highest levels of hygiene. Without these standards pets have a much higher risk of becoming infested with mange and this can in turn affect the entire family and the surroundings. Pets that are allowed to wander regardless have more chance of coming into contact with a mange infested stray or wild animal and therefore contracting mange themselves.