Have you ever seen a dog whose body looks like a map of bald patchy areas of hair with skin covered in sores and crusts or appear thick and hard? There is a fat chance that the dog is being infested with mange mites. While the skin condition is generally treatable, some cases are contagious and can become potentially serious. Here is what you need to know about dog mange treatment.
What is Mange?
Mange is a type of skin disease that is caused by different species of mites. It can affect several kinds of animals, even humans.
Types of Mange in Dogs
There are several species of mites that cause mange in pets. The 2 most common types that affect dogs are demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange.
The mite that is responsible for this type of mange is Demodex canis. These tiny parasites live on the skin and hair follicles of dogs. Demodex mites tend to be present in the skin of dogs without causing any signs of infection. The mites are normally a part of the skin flora. However, when the dog’s immune system is compromised, the mites are quick to jump in on the opportunity to cause an infection that starts with the inflammation of the skin at the root of the hair follicle. This can eventually lead to itching and hair loss. Demodicosis is not contagious and is easily treatable. Most cases of demodectic mange are found in sick or senior dogs.
Sarcoptic Mange (Canine Scabies)
This is caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. It’s the same type of mite that has been implicated in scabies cases in humans. The mites cause intense itching when they burrow under the dog’s skin to lay eggs that hatch in about 3 weeks. Upon hatching, the young mites feed on the skin of the host. The intense itching can cause a dog to persistently scratch and chew on affected areas which can eventually lead to hair loss and broken skin surfaces. Although sarcoptic mange can be treated, it’s very contagious. It’s also zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted to humans and other pets. If your dog has sarcoptic mange, he needs to be quarantined and home decontamination should be done to get rid of the mites.
Signs and Symptoms of Mange in Dogs
The general symptoms of mange include:
- Skin redness, rashes, and intense itching
- Excessive hair loss
- Skin sores and lesions
- Skin appears scabby, crusty, or scaly
The itching and hair loss associated with demodicosis or demodectic mange is usually localized to smaller patches of skin on the dog’s face, legs, and trunk. Being localized makes it easier to apply a demodectic mange home remedy.
Diagnosing Mange in Dogs
To confirm that the skin lesions are caused by mange mites, your veterinarian may do skin scrapings in addition to the usual tests — blood and urine tests. Skin scraping involves the microscopic examination of the dog’s hair follicles for the presence of mange and which type of mite is the culprit. The other tests are necessary to rule out other potential causes of itching and hair loss, such as allergies or metabolic issues.
Dog Mange Treatment
While mange in dogs is treatable, there are challenging cases that will take time and effort to address. Most cases of demodectic mange tend to resolve on their own. However, severe cases may require long-term treatment and monitoring to make sure that the medication is working. Since demodicosis is often associated with a weak immune system, your veterinarian may also take steps to identify any underlying health condition that might be compromising the integrity and function of the dog’s immune system so the appropriate treatment can be given.
How do you get rid of mange on a dog?
Early detection and dog mange treatment is very important. Mild cases can easily grow and spread quickly, making it more of a challenge to treat. Here are some treatment strategies that may be adapted by your veterinarian.
- Use of medicated shampoos — Affected dogs are given a bath on a weekly basis over a period of 4-6 weeks. These products contain ingredients that can help heal and soften the skin. Clipping of the dog’s hair can help maximize the application of the product so that it can work.
- Topical medications — These products contain formulas that kill the mites. Treatment usually extends for several weeks. Topical medications are great at mange mite eradication and control.
- Oral medications — Common oral medications that are given for mange mites include selamectin (Revolution) and imidacloprid-moxidectin (Advantage Multi ). Off-label use of ivermectin has also proven to be effective. Some canine breeds, however, are hypersensitive to ivermectin, thus you should ask your veterinarian before giving anything to your dog.
- Yeast or bacteria are common opportunistic invaders during a mange infestation. Your veterinarian may also find it necessary to treat any infection that may be present.
Popular Home Remedies For Mange In Dog
Medications and products that are used to eradicate and control mange mites have their share of potential side effects. This has prompted many pet owners to look for other ways, a.k.a. more natural ways for dog mange treatment. Here are the most common home remedies for mange in dogs:
Olive oil is a popular home remedy for dog mange treatment. When applied to the surface of the skin, it may smother any mites that are present. Olive oil can be successful in treating mild and localized cases of mange but it is not a practical solution to generalized or body-wide infections. Olive oil is just too expensive to be applied all over your pet’s body. Not only that, but it would also result in an enormous mess wherever the dog wanders inside your home.
Olive oil can also help re-moisturize your pet’s skin and alleviate itching and discomfort. Your biggest challenge though is how to prevent your pet from licking off the olive oil from his body.
Aloe vera extract is known for its many medical benefits. In mange infestation, the extract can help soothe the skin as well as reduce the itching and irritation. Studies have shown that aloe vera extract possesses mild antibacterial properties, which can be useful in preventing secondary bacterial infections. Applying a thick layer of the extract on affected areas several times a week may suffocate the mites and help clear up the problem. Like olive oil, the use of aloe vera against mange mites is suitable only for localized infections.
Precaution: Aloe vera extract is toxic to dogs, thus it is a good idea to have your pet wear an e-collar while on medication. Ingestion can cause vomiting or diarrhea in dogs, but there have been cases when it led to depression and muscular tremors.
Like olive oil and Aloe vera extract, yogurt is applied on the affected area, which means it is only ideal for localized infestations. A layer of yogurt on the affected skin surface is thought to smother most of the mange mites that are present there.
Yogurt contains beneficial microorganisms or probiotics, so there’s really no problem if your dog loves to lick it off his skin. It also possesses some moisturizing properties which are excellent for the skin. The probiotics may help combat fungi that are common causes of secondary infections. Unflavored and organic yogurt is highly recommended over the flavored ones.
Some pet owners have been successful in treating localized mange infections by applying lemon juice and water mixtures in the affected area. The recommended mixture is 1 or 2 lemons in 1-2 liters of water. Some pet owners “spike” the mixture with garlic which is known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Allow the mixture to steep overnight before putting it in a spray bottle and applying directly to the affected areas at least twice a day until the problem is resolved.
It is assumed that the acidity of the lemon juice mixture will kill the mange mites while eliminating any bacteria or fungi that are present. Also, citrus fruits are known to possess some antiseptic properties.
However, there have been reports of skin irritation and exacerbation of skin problems associated with the topical application of lemon juice.
Honey possesses antifungal and antibacterial properties and applying the thick liquid on affected areas may suffocate the mites. It’s probably one of the safest mange home remedies that dog owners should try. But like the other home remedies, honey can only be used in localized infections. Your dog will surely try his best to lick it off. Honey can also make the dog’s skin very sticky and easily attract dust and debris.
Apple cider vinegar
It is thought that the acidity of the vinegar is responsible for the alleviation of symptoms. However, it may cause skin irritations or worsen existing problems when applied to the skin in a non-diluted form. Some pet owners add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider with their dog’s meal at least once a day until the infection has gone away.
This is a common home remedy used by many pet owners for mange treatment in dogs, however, it is NOT recommended because it is very toxic to dogs when ingested. It can lead to gastrointestinal distress, seizures, or even death. Borax can also be very drying to the skin, which can only worsen the irritation and pave the way for secondary bacterial or fungal infection to set in.
Borax-based solutions are used to kill mites that are present on fomites or inanimate objects or even on floors.