Mange and Your Dog
Posted March 22, 2013
We love for our pets to play outdoors with their friends, but
owners should be cautious about the dangers that lurk there.
You've probably heard the term "mangy mutt" referring to a poor
dog with a ratty, patchy coat. That's actually how dogs with
sarcoptic mange really look. Mange is a condition caused by an
infestation of a specific type of mite that is too tiny to be seen
with the naked eye.
"In this country, primarily dogs get sarcoptic mange, or
scabies," said Dr. Alison Diesel, lecturer at the Texas A&M
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "It can
be transmitted and carried by other wild canids including coyotes
Sarcoptes mites are very contagious and can be spread by your
pet coming into contact with an infected source.
"Sarcoptes mites are spread by direct contact with an infected
animal or from an infected environment (e.g. coyote den or fox
burrow, even dog parks or grooming facilities)," said Diesel. "It
is important that all in-contact animals be treated for mites if
one dog in the household is diagnosed with scabies."
The most common sign associated with sarcoptic mange is severe
"Dogs may also develop a rash, lose their hair, and have
crusting lesions on various body regions," said Diesel. "The most
common areas include the ear margins, hocks, and elbows; however
signs may become generalized very quickly."
Veterinarians often use therapy or the pet's history and
clinical signs to diagnose mange.
"Sarcoptes mites can be VERY difficult to find as they live very
superficially on the skin and are typically only present in very
small numbers," said Diesel. "Skin scrapings may help to identify
the mites, however often we do not find the mites on our patients.
A positive "pinnal-pedal response" (where the veterinarian folds
the ear flap on itself, rubs the two surfaces together, and watches
for the hind limb to exhibit the classic "Thumper" or scratching
response) can be supportive of the suspected diagnosis."
Your dog's veterinarian will recommend the most appropriate
therapy given your animal's specific needs and preferences.
Typically therapy lasts between 6-8 weeks.
"Thankfully, Sarcoptes mites are pretty wimpy, said Diesel.
"Several topical, oral, and injectable treatments are available for
treating them. Certain breeds (e.g. Collies, Shetland sheepdogs,
Border collies) need to be specially considered as some of the
therapeutic options can be toxic and cause severe side effects
Unfortunately, sarcoptic mange can also be spread from dogs to
"If a pet owner is concerned they may have contracted scabies
from their pet, particularly if their veterinarian diagnoses
scabies, they should contact their primary care physician for
recommendations and let them know their dog is being treated for
scabies," said Diesel.
The best prevention from mange is to keep dogs away from known
infested environments including coyote dens and fox burrows.
"If the owner knows their dog has scabies, they should also keep
their pet away from other dogs (including staying away from dog
parks, doggie day care and groomers) until the infestation is fully
resolved," said Diesel.
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