Are all types of DOG MANGE the same? Read why the answer is “NO”!
You may be wondering if your dog has mange if he/she has any type of skin problems. What is mange? It is a general term for any skin disease caused by mites. Mites are small parasites that are too small to be seen with the naked eye (so don’t try!), they can only be visualized with a microscope. The symptoms of mange vary depending on the type of bug- some of these bugs live inside the hair follicle (demodex), some burrow underneath the skin (scabies) and some live inside the ears and feed on wax/debris (otodectes/ear mites). This is what accounts for the varying symptoms seen by the pet owner. What you often notice is varying degrees of hair loss (baldness), scale, crust and odor. Many type of mange are very itchy and in some cases ear infections are occur (that is the primary symptom caused by ear mites. Because mange can mimic so many other skin diseases it is important to work with your veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist to ensure an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Is mange contagious to me or my other dog or cat?
Good question! Whether or not mange is contagious depends on what type of mite is causing the problem. Demodex (Demodectic mange, “Red mange”) is one type of mange that is NOT CONTAGIOUS between dogs and people! Sarcoptic mange, Cheyletiella and Trombiculosis (chiggers) are contagious between pets and sometimes to humans.
Here is more information on the various types of mites in dogs
Demodex (“Red mange”)
· Easy to diagnose with skin scrapings; rarely will require a skin biopsy.
· Typically seen in puppies or older adults, can occur in dogs receiving steroid or chemotherapy medications.
· This form of mange is NOT contagious, occurs due to inability of the dog’s immune system to keep the mite population in check.
· Causes patchy areas of hair loss, secondary bacterial infection is common, itching is variable.
· Typically responds well to therapy; most cases in puppies and healthy adults are curable (greater than 90% cure rate).
· Please see our Demodex handout for more specific information. http://static1.squarespace.com/static/54bd97f9e4b055fba262bef3/t/54fe51c0e4b0961e4d151172/1425953216855/csspets+PARASITE-Demodex.pdf
· This is a contagious form of mange between dogs and from dogs to people. Sarcoptic mange is often endemic in fox & coyote populations that are why it easily spreads in areas with wildlife. Direct contact or interaction with wildlife is not always required. Dogs can contract the infection by coming in contact with an infected surface.
· People can develop itchy rashes along the bra line, belt line or sock lines. Consult your physician if your dog has been diagnosed with scabies.
· Harder to diagnose because typically there are only small numbers of these mites on the dog causing the symptoms. Because of that veterinarians will often presumptively treat and monitor how your dog responds to the treatment.
· Itching is initially moderate but progresses to SEVERE (the mites burrow in the skin).
· Sarcoptic mange mimics allergic skin disease (eczema, food allergy) in dogs.
· Difficult to diagnose! Skin scrapings are positive in only 10% of cases- this is why this test is often repeated multiple times (so try not to get frustrated).
· Treatment and your dog’s response to treatment are often used as a diagnostic tool.
· Causes itching, crusting (ear margins, elbows & belly common) & secondary bacterial infection
· Excellent prognosis. A variety of parasiticides are effective. Your veterinarian should determine which therapy is best for your dog. Some therapies are dangerous in certain breeds (ivermectin sensitive breeds like Collies, Shelties and Sheepdogs). Specific dosing recommendations must be followed otherwise therapy will not be effective.
Cheyletiella (“Walking Dandruff”)
· Highly contagious to cats, dogs, rabbits & humans- because of this ALL species in an affected household must be treated simultaneously otherwise reinfection occurs. Some animals can be asymptomatic carriers.
· Excessive scaling is primary symptom (“dandruff”)- hair coat takes on powdery appearance
· Itching can be mild to severe, secondary bacterial infection is possible.
· Diagnosis is typically easy- mites are easy to find with skin scrapings or tape preps
· Excellent prognosis. A variety of parasiticides are effective but systemic therapy is generally considered more effective than topical. Your veterinarian should determine which therapy is best for your dog or cat. Some therapies are dangerous in certain breeds. Specific dosing recommendations must be followed otherwise therapy will not be effective.
Otodectes Cyanotis (“Ear Mites”)
· Highly contagious between cats & dogs but not people.
· Superficial mites feed off of skin in/around ear canals. Infection causes SEVERE itching around the ears and face. Dark brown, crusty ear discharge common.
· Ear infections associated with allergies (allergic otitis) often mimics ear mite infection. Your veterinarian can distinguish between the two different infections.
· Diagnosis is typically easy- mites are easy to find with otoscopy & ear preps
· Excellent prognosis. Thorough cleaning of the ear canals must be done initially. Followed by a combination of ear preparations combined with whole body treatments. ALL affected and in-contact dogs & cats should be treated.
· A variety of parasiticides are effective. Your veterinarian should determine which therapy is best for your dog or cat. Some therapies are dangerous in certain breeds. Specific dosing recommendations must be followed otherwise therapy will not be effective.
· The infectious form is the larval form & not the adult, typically red-orange in color. The larvae live on plants & attach to mammals as they pass by.
· Chiggers are NOT contagious between animals or from animals to humans. Infested areas/plants represent a source of infection for all mammals.
· Typically causes dermatitis along areas that touch the ground (legs feet, head, ears & belly). Variably itchy (my dog had them and had a rash only). Secondary bacterial infection can occur.
· Easy to diagnose with skin scrapings. Sometimes chiggers can be seen visually at the center of a papule if the mite has not been removed by scratching.
· Excellent prognosis. Start by keeping dogs away from areas known to be infested (typically brush).
· A variety of topical parasiticides are effective. Your veterinarian should determine which therapy is best for your dog.