While mange is a condition that affects several species of animals, including dogs and cats, it's not a condition that pet owners deal with very often. A parasitic infection, mange is caused by mites, microscopic organisms that live on the skin of an infected animal.
If left untreated, the mites will spread to the animal's central nervous system, causing neurological complications. In addition to causing considerable discomfort for infected animals, mange is dangerous to humans, and can be spread by simply handling an infected animal.
Many people do not realize that incurable mange is actually a condition caused by a mite or a virus, that is transmitted from dogs to dogs. A mite called Sarcoptidius canis causes the skin condition sarcoptic mange, while a virus called Bovine papillomavirus is the cause of the condition common in cats called feline distemper.
While some dogs may appear with mange, it is typically believed that the condition is caused by an external mite that bites a dog and then establishes itself, triggering the skin condition.
Sarcoptic Mange: Causes and Symptoms
Sarcoptic mange is a skin disease caused by a microscopic mite (a type of arachnid) called Sarcoptes scabiei. The microscopic mites burrow into your pet’s skin and lay eggs. The mites and the eggs cause intense itching.
This causes your pet to continue to scratch. The constant scratching results in skin inflammation and secondary infections. Your dog or cat may develop severe scabs, thick crusts, hair loss, and skin infections from the resulting scratching. Sarcoptic mange mites are usually harmless to humans and other pets.
Pruritus - Itching and Scratching in Dogs
Itching, also known as pruritus, is one of the most common reasons why pet owners bring their dogs into veterinary clinics.
The main causes of itching are skin problems like allergies and infections that may be itchy on their own, but sometimes itchy dogs need to be treated for entirely different conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
Did you know that itching is not a feeling your dog can consciously control, but an automatic response to discomfort in their skin? Although they can’t tell you when they have an itch, it can be extremely irritating for them.
If you notice your dog scratching excessively, it is advisable to take them to the vet as this is a sign of a potential skin disorder.
Home Remedies for Dog Mange + Other OTC Treatments
If you’ve ever dealt with dog mange, you know it’s a skin condition that can start out looking like dry, flaky skin and then progress to scaly, crusty patches and, in some cases, itchy, inflamed skin or even hair loss.
So how do you get rid of dog mange? It’s not easy—or cheap—but you can manage the condition with prescription topical treatments, or you can try home remedies.
1. Mange Shampoos
Many dogs will experience a mild case of mange at some point in their lives, usually as the result of getting into a fight with another dog.
Usually, all you need to do is carefully wash your dog’s fur with a medicated shampoo, and the mange will go away on its own in a matter of weeks.
However, if your dog has a severe case of mange, you may want to call your veterinarian, since your dog may need to visit a veterinary dermatologist or animal hospital.
2. OTC Mange Medications
If your dog is suffering from mange, you need to know about the various OTC medications used to treat it.
There are three types of ointments used to treat mange in dogs, and one shampoo. They are all essentially the same medication, pyrantel pamoate.
The difference between the three is the concentration of the active ingredient. The shampoo is actually the one that works the fastest, so it would be the best choice if your dog only has a bad case of mange for a couple of weeks.
3. Flea Treatments
There are several flea treatments on the market today, with a number of manufacturers making flea treatments for dogs and for cats.
But what are the best flea treatments for dogs and for cats? Ideally, you will want a flea treatment that is effective, easy to administer and at a price you can handle. (Remember, flea treatments can cost up to hundreds of dollars or more.) And of course, you want a top-notch flea treatment that won't cause your pet any discomfort.
Medications to avoid in pets with mange
Once you’ve identified mange in your dog, you’ll need to treat it. The treatments you choose will depend on the type of mange your dog has, as well as his overall health and any other underlying conditions.
After treatment begins, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for your dog to start showing signs of improvement.
Unfortunately, there really isn't much you can do to treat mange in your pet, but you can take steps to make it easier on your pet. For one, you'll want to avoid using meds that make the skin more sensitive in the affected areas.
That means avoiding products containing steroids or cortisone. Any product that contains sulfur, selenium sulfide or selenium disulfide should also be avoided.
The last thing you want to do is treat your pet incorrectly, which is why it's important to understand which medications to avoid when your pet has mange. The short answer is do not take any medications without first consulting your vet.
It is difficult to treat pet mange because it is caused by a parasite that reproduces very quickly. These organisms burst out of the skin and pass through the animal's system in just a few days. While mange is highly contagious to pets, it can also be passed to humans and other animals. The best way to protect your pets is to avoid bringing them into contact with infected animals or their environments. Unfortunately, if your pet does contract mange, you may not know it right away because the symptoms are similar to other skin conditions.