What is Mange?
Mange is a group of skin problems caused by tiny, invisible mites that infest your pet. The two main types are Demodectic or Red Mange, and Sarcoptic Mange. Both types cause hair loss and itching, which causes your pet to scratch. The irritated skin can then become infected with bacteria and cause more serious problems. Usually a mild case isn't a big deal and can be corrected with medicated baths. Sarcoptic Mange is contagious to other animals and even humans.
What is Not Mange?
There are many skin problems that can mimic mange, including severe bacterial or yeast infections and even allergic reactions. Even to a trained professional it can be difficult to diagnose a rash or hair loss on an animal just by looking at it. To properly diagnose a skin condition in an animal it is necessary to do a skin scrape and check it under a microscope. If the infection turns out to be mange, it can usually be corrected by treating the animal with medicated baths or dips at the clinic. Other problems might require antibiotics, antifungals, steroids, or even prescription shampoos.
Can I Treat Mange At Home?
Mild cases might respond to over the counter treatments. However keep in mind that there are different types of mange and one product may not be effective against both types. In addition, your pet may be suffering from a bacterial infection or allergies instead, and in that case treating the animal for mange will do no good whatsoever. It is advisable to have your pet checked out by a veterinarian to ensure that what you are dealing with is actually mange, and discuss treatment options at that time.
Do not put motor oil on your pet. This is an old wives' tale that just won't quit! Motor oil, either used or new, is not an insecticide and is not an effective treatment for any kind of skin condition. All it does is make a mess and it could be toxic to your pet.
My Pet is Positive for Mange, What Now?
Usually we will schedule an appointment for you to bring your pet in to be dipped. He or she will receive a bath and then be soaked in a solution that kills the mites specific to your pet's type of mange. Severe cases may require ongoing treatment, for example a dip every week. After the dip your pet will be dried under a blow dryer and you can pick them up that afternoon. Do not bathe your pet after the dip, even if the smell of the medication is strong. It will wear off. We will re-check your pet in a few days to see if additional dips are needed, and we will let you know when you can go back to regular bathing. The good news is, even though the dip smells funny, it will kill fleas and ticks in addition to the mange. Three birds with one stone!
If the case is severe, it may require more aggressive treatment.
Please inform Dr. Cobb of any medications your pet is taking before you schedule your pet for a dip, as some drugs can interact with the treatment.
Is Mange Contagious?
Sarcoptic Mange is contagious to other animals and humans. Demodectic is not contagious to humans, but may be transmitted to other dogs. For safety's sake, in both cases you should quarantine the infected animal away from your other pets and wash your hands after handling them.
How Can I Prevent Mange?
Keep your pet away from animals that have poor quality coats or that are obviously sick. If one of your pets appears to have mange, quarantine it from the others quickly and remove contaminated bedding. Try to keep strange animals away from your property and do not let your pet roam freely where it may come into contact with strays or local wildlife.