Mange in dogs

Two forms of mange are common in dogs. They are sarcoptic mange, caused by Sarcoptes scabei and demodectic mange caused by Demodex canis. Cats can also become infected with sarcoptic mange. But the form that is most common in cats is Notoedric mange. Sarcoptic mange is sometimes called scabies.

Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious between dogs. It is found all over the World. Sarcoptic mites are near-microscopic, eight-legged creatures closely related to ticks. Their entire life cycle of three to four weeks is spent on the dog or another host.

Female sarcoptic mites are twice as large as males – similar to the one in the illustration at the top of this page. Males stay on the pet’s skin surface. But female mites burrow into the upper layers of the skin forming long tunnels. Your pet’s reaction to this activity and products the mites release cause intense itching, scratching, reddened streaks and skin inflammation.

Periodically the female mites lay small clusters of eggs in their tunnels that hatch into immature larva that mature into “nymph” forms (with six legs). Female nymphs mature to create their own skin tunnels, itching and more inflammation. As the number of mites on your pet increases, its skin often becomes very crusty.

Dogs of any age can become infected, but sarcoptic mange is most common in young animals. Sarcoptic mange is usually spread by close contact between a dog that carries mites and one that does not. It’s method of spread is similar to that of head lice in children. Dogs that spread the infections often have little or no signs that they are infected. Sarcoptic mange can also be spread by contact with objects, such as blankets and quarters that have recently been used by infected animals. Mange mites do not generally survive off a host animal for more than 2-4 days.

Sarcoptic mange is usually spread where large numbers of poorly maintained dogs are maintained in crowded conditions – such as at animal shelters, boarding kennels and pet shops. It is also transferred at grooming salons through towels, clippers and improperly sanitized caging. Mother dogs in recovery or in long-term balance with the parasite often transmit it to their offspring. So puppies from puppy mills and unsanitary breeders are also a major source of the disease.

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