What is mange?

Mange is a skin disease in dogs that is caused by tiny mites invisible to people. There are two basic types of mange: sarcoptic mange and and demodectic mange. Each is caused by a different kind of mite and will produce somewhat different mange symptoms.


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Demodectic mange is the most common. The mites live on the hair follicles of dogs, and they eat away at the hair, doing damage to the hair follicle and causing the hair to fall out. Dogs with mange will often get infections from unrelated bacteria in their skin as a result of the inflammation this causes. That can cause some nasty skin conditions. Nearly every dog has mange mites on them, but it usually takes something else to "kick in" and make the dog vulnerable to the mites. Usually, this is immune system problems or genetic susceptibility. The immune system of the dog usually keeps the mites in control and fights back against them, but many drugs or illnesses can cause a dog to develop demodectic mange because they weaken the immune system and the mites breed out of control.

Sarcoptic mange is less common, but still a bad disease. It's also called scabies. It's caused by a different kind of mite, and this one spreads from other wild animals to your dog (either by direct contact or indirect contact with an area where the animal has spread the mites). Scabies mites live in the skin of the dog, not the hair. The mite causes the dog's skin to itch. While it also causes hair loss, it's not for the same reason - the mites don't do anything to the hair, the dog just itches so badly that it scratches repeatedly and rubs the hair off.

Either one will require mange treatment.


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