Border collies are more prone to mange infection.
“Mangy dog” is a term often used to refer to an old, scabby neglected mutt. While dogs that have mange certainly look grim, mange is actually a collection of parasites called mites that live in your dog’s fur. The Latin names for mange types are Demodex canis or Sarcoptes canis, with the condition called Demodicosis or Sarcoptic mange. These destructive critters can cause a lot of discomfort for your pet. Mite infestation presents as patchy hair loss and scaly, reddened skin around the face or on the front legs. In more severe cases, it is prone to infect the feet.
Types of mange mites
Most healthy dogs naturally carry around some Demodex mites. Sometimes, particularly during hot weather spells, there is a population explosion of the parasites. Sometimes minor localized demodicosis — which is more common — clears up on its own.
Demodectic mange lives and feeds in the hair follicles and oil glands of the dog’s skin. Some minor cases of demodectic mites clear up quickly without any treatment, especially if your dog is young and otherwise healthy.
Sarcoptic mites burrow into the skin and survive short periods off the host. They can also infect humans, presenting as a rash. Mites cause severe inflammation and as dogs scratch, they cause serious skin damage.
Breeds that are more prone to mange include boxers, bull terriers, bulldogs, pit bulls, Dobermans, pointers, shepherds, collies, dachshunds, Great Danes, sheepdogs, Shar-Pei, shih-tzus, and pugs.
Bathing and Brushing
Bath and groom your dog regularly as this will help keep your dog mange-free. Regular brushing and baths will remove scaly skin and scabs caused by the condition. If your dog has been infested with mange mites, thoroughly wash its bedding and other sleeping areas.
For severe cases affecting large areas of the dog, a course of medication prescribed by your vet may be necessary to control the condition over a long period, says PetMD. Lime-sulfur dips to the affected areas may help relieve symptoms. You must visit your vet regularly in order to do further skin scrapings, called trichograms. If you ensure your dog is otherwise healthy, it may help prevent mange. PetMD also advises that dogs with generalized chronic mange not be bred, as the condition is likely to be passed to offspring.
Garlic has sulfur compounds that mites hate, says vet and author Dr. Randy Kidd. Diluted garlic oil can be used topically. Garlic is also antibacterial so it will have the added benefit of minimizing infection. If your dog is sensitive to garlic, use licorice. Neem and Lavender and oil is a good skin rinse to prevent and soothe mange infection. Mix one lavender oil with one part neem oil along with 10 parts almond oil in a spray bottle and apply to your dog twice daily. Yarrow is excellent in wound healing; it stops the bleeding from oozing wounds. Yarrow oil, salve, or ointment can be applied to the affected areas.
Calling the Vet
You should always call the vet for diagnose and treatment advice first. The vet will examine your dog’s skin under the microscope to see if mites are present. She may prescribe a dip and antibiotics to ward off any secondary infections caused by scratching.
Sarcoptic mange is very persistent and thus other dogs in the house should be treated, regardless of whether they show signs of the condition. Sarcoptic mange can also present in humans, so it is important to get your vet to diagnose and treat the infected dog as soon as possible.