Microscopic Mites = Big Problems = Mange
Mange is caused by a mite infestation, and is a common skin condition that affects dogs, cats and rabbits.
The microscopic parasites either burrow under your pet’s skin or inhabit hair follicles or oil glands in the skin. A small population of mites is always present on your furry friend’s body.
Symptoms only occur if the number of mites multiples, or your pet has a weak immune system. Although mange is more common in dogs, it does occur in cats and rabbits, particularly those that live with dogs.
Signs and symptoms of Mange:
- Hair loss may be widespread or patchy. Commonly affected areas include the face, head, ears, neck, elbows, abdomen, chest and legs.
- Mange causes severe itching, triggering almost constant scratching. Scratching can worsen hair loss and may break the skin, increasing the risk of infection.
- Red, inflamed skin
- Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin can add to discomfort.
- Greasy skin and coat may be a sign of mange.
- If mites burrow into the skin, crusty sores may form.
- Miliary dermatitis – tiny bumps on skin
- If mange is not treated promptly, the skin in the affected areas may thicken.
- Itching usually intensifies at night and can affect quality of sleep.
How is Mange Treated?
Your veterinarian can often tell your pet has mange simply by examining its coat. Skin scrapings examined under a microscope confirm the diagnosis.
There are prescription topical or oral medications that kill mites. Medicated shampoos and dips can also be helpful.
Antibiotics or anti-fungal medications may be needed if your pet develops an infection as a result of the mite infestation.
Since your other pets can catch mange, it’s important to treat all of your animals, even if they show no signs or symptoms. Washing bedding, blankets and other items that your pet uses, and vacuuming floors and upholstery, will help prevent a reinfestation.
Although many types of mites only affect pets, some can also cause symptoms in people. For example, you can develop sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, if your skin comes in contact with your pet’s.
Symptoms of scabies in humans include itching that worsens at night, a red bump rash and lesions on your skin. Your doctor can prescribe topical medication that will kill the mites.