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Understanding demodectic and sarcoptic mange
Skin infections on your dog are no joke. Many times, these skin conditions show up due to another more serious issue happening with your dog. Demodectic and sarcoptic mange is one skin problem in dogs that is a result of an issue with a dog's immune system.
Demodex mange is the more common of the two varieties and surprisingly, every healthy house pet and mammal in general has a low level of demodex, or skin mites, living on their skin. Most pets are able to live in harmony with the mites and they are not contagious. However, dogs who have a problem with their immune systems can develop an overgrowth of the mites, resulting in hair loss, crusty or scabby skin.
This condition can occur in pets of all ages, but puppies and seniors are more vulnerable to developing mange due to their weaker immune systems. You may notice the skin irritation around your dog's head and legs, though if the problem doesn't clear up on its own, hair loss can spread to larger areas.
If you notice any of these symptoms on your dog's coat or skin, you should bring it to the vet's office for a proper evaluation. The vet will run tests and may scrape the dog's skin to check for mange. Once a diagnosis is made, the vet may recommend giving your dog a bath using pet shampoo with benzoyl peroxide like Malapet Medicated Shampoo. The vet may also prescribe pet drugs like Mitaban Dip which you apply directly on your dog's skin to relieve skin irritations associated with mange. If your dog has an aggressive case of mange, the vet will also recommend starting the dog on flea, tick and heartworm preventatives like Sentinel, Revolution or Heartgard Plus.
Sarcoptic mange, or scabies, is a much more advanced form of mange. Scabies is an infectious and contagious type of mange and the mites often jump from one animal to another. Symptoms of this condition include a dog itching nonstop. You may also notice scabbing and hair loss on its ears, elbows and abdomen. The vet will run similar tests including a skin scrape to diagnosis scabies, but these mites are typically more difficult to find. Because of this, most vets will start dogs on treatment plans right away if they think it may be scabies. Treatment for scabies includes weekly baths in shampoo and lime-sulfur dips. If you have multiple dogs in the home, all will need to be treated, regardless of whether they have symptoms.