MANGE! What is it? There are 3 types of mange in dogs, 2 of which are contagious. Demodectic mange, “Red Mange”, is caused by microscopic demodex mites that live in the hair follicle, are not contagious, and are a function of a weakened or developing immune system. Most commonly seen in puppies (developing immune system) or older dogs (with an underlying disease or having been on long-term steroids), it is not itchy but the mite produces a substance which further weakens the immune system. When present in a puppy, the mite is passed on to the puppies from the mother during nursing. Since this can be hereditary, it is advised to not further breed a dog with demodex mites. When present in an older dog, sometimes there is a history of long-term steroid use or other immunosuppressives, or an underlying cancer that has not yet been discovered. The diagnosis is made by skin scrapings or hair plucks and treatment most recently involves an isoxazoline (Bravecto, NexGard, Simparica) and antibiotics and bathing. In older dogs with the onset of demodex mites, blood work and further diagnostics are needed to find out why the dog now has demodex. 

Sarcoptic mange or “Scabies” is very contagious and very itchy. To me, it is the itchiest disease a dog can have! It affects the canis species-dogs, foxes, wolves, coyotes. Ear edges, hocks, elbows, and belly are all affected and the dog doesn’t get relief from any antiitch medication! It is often mistaken for allergy but for a dog with no history of allergies and very itchy for the first time, scabies is very possible! The diagnosis is via skin scrapings and treatment is similar to demodex. Any dog in contact with the scabies animal needs to be examined and/or treated. Because this mite affects canis species-dog, fox, coyote, or wolf, even having a fox or coyote walk through your yard can expose your dog to the mite. The mite can live off the dog 3-5 days. One client found a fox curled up asleep on her porch on a bail of straw she had as a Halloween decoration. In a few days, her dog came down with scabies! Humans have their own type of scabies mite and dog scabies can bite humans but does not prefer to live on humans. Once the dog is treated, any humans with itching will resolve. Bedding, carpet, and all other exposed dogs need to be treated. Aside from the anti-mite therapy consisting of either Bravecto, Simparica, Credelio, NexGard, Revolution, or Advantage Plus, antibiotics and prednisone are used to give the animal some relief!

Cheyletiella or “Walking Dandruff” is a contagious microscopic mite that affects dogs, cats, and rabbits. This mite will bite humans as well! It can be hard to find especially in cats because they are good groomers. Normally it lives along the back and looks “flaky” but I have found the mite in the ears and reportedly it can crawl into and out of the nostrils making the pet very itchy around the face, almost like having a seizure! The diagnosis is via combings of the areas and observing the mite under the microscope as is true for the above 2 mites as well. Treatment is the same as for the above mites but pyrethrin shampoos, lime sulfur dips, and selamectin topically have also been used. All the pets need to be treated as it’s contagious! The house needs to be treated as well. Owners who are itchy will find their itching will subside after the pets are treated. Have a great day and kiss the pets for me!