Chauncey was a homeless street dog in Mexico suffering from treatable mange. Our volunteers rescued Chauncey knowing that proper care, patience and dedication would transform this diamond in the rough to a beautiful, loving adoptable pet.
This is Chauncey today — happy in his new home with his loving family. Every year, Animal Advocates of the U.S. (AAOFUS) rescues, treats and finds homes for hundreds of homeless street dogs and cats suffering from treatable mange.
AAOFUS wants to improve the plight of homeless street dogs and cats by helping poor communities treat these animals so they have a chance of being cared for by the local community and rescued by animal welfare organizations.
We plan to develop treatable mange clinics in the poorest communities of Mexico in 2015. Helping communities treat mange in their pet and homeless population is critical to curbing homelessness and unnecessary suffering. Many homeless street dogs and cats are shunned by the community out of fear that mange will affect the human population. By offering treatable mange clinics, AAOFUS endeavors to help both the human and pet populations. If you’d like to join our efforts, we welcome your participation in this worthy program. Please contact us at: aaofus.org/contact.html
Step 1: Education
Education about treatable mange is the critical first step in helping homeless street dogs and cats. Knowledge is a powerful tool in treating and curbing this skin condition.
Mange: A Treatable Disease
Mange is a type of inflammatory skin disease caused by tiny parasitic mites on dogs. Nearly all dogs carry mites in small numbers throughout their lives. Generally, a dog’s immune system is sufficient to keep the number of mites low and prevent noticeable symptoms. In cases of Mange in homeless, malnourished or street dogs, however, the population of mites grows out of control. Large colonies of mites can cause skin lesions, hair loss, and even immune system problems. Though Mange is rarely fatal, knowing how to recognize this obnoxious disease early makes treating the dog much easier in the long run.
All dogs raised normally by their mothers possess Demodectic Mange mites (Demodex canis), which are transferred from mother to pup via cuddling during the first few days of life. Most dogs live in harmony with their mites, never suffering any consequences. While an exact cause of Mange in dogs is unknown, many experts believe genetic factors, such as problems with the immune system, may predispose a dog to developing Mange.
There are three types of Demodectic Mange that affect dogs:
Localized cases occur when these mites proliferate in one or two small, confined areas. This results in isolated scaly bald patches-usually on the dog’s face-creating a polka-dot appearance. Localized demodicosis is considered a common ailment of puppyhood, and approximately 90% of cases resolve without treatment.
Generalized Demodectic Mange, in contrast, affects larger areas of skin or a dog’s entire body. Secondary bacterial infections make this a very itchy and often smelly skin disease. This form of Mange could also be a sign of a compromised immune system, hereditary problem, endocrine problem or other underlying health issue. Treatment depends on the age at which the dog developed the disease.
Demodectic Pododermatitis is one of the most resistant forms of Mange and is confined to the foot and accompanied by bacterial infections. Deep biopsies are often required to locate these mites and to make a proper diagnosis.
How Do Dogs Get Mange?
Demodex mites can be transferred from one dog to another, but as long as the dog is healthy, the mites simply add to the dog’s natural mite population and no skin disease results. Dogs that are isolated due to severe cases of Mange is still felt to be unnecessary though in rare circumstances, contagion is possible. While there are still different theories about dog-to-dog transmission of Demodex mites, it is accepted that mites cannot be transmitted to humans or to cats.
General Symptoms of Mange in Dogs
The symptoms of Mange depend on which type of mite is present. Demodectic Mange tends to cause hair loss, bald spots, scabbing and sores. Secondary bacterial infections can make Demodectic Mange an itchy and uncomfortable disease. Humans cannot get Demodectic Mange from dogs.
Sarcoptic Mange tends to cause intense itching. It can result in restlessness and frantic scratching, symptoms generally appear one week after exposure. It also can result in hair loss, reddened skin, body sores and scabs. The most commonly affected areas are a dog’s ears, elbows, face and legs, but it can rapidly spread to the entire body. When passed to humans, Sarcoptic Mange causes a rash of red bumps, similar to mosquito bites.
Step 2: Treatment
How to Care For a Puppy or Dog with Mange
If you suspect your dog has any sort of Mange, you should consult your veterinarian. Only a trained, experienced vet can run the proper diagnostic tests to determine the type and severity of this disease. Depending on the diagnosis, the vet will then prescribe the proper medication to treat it. Because Mange is almost always easiest to treat before it becomes severe, seeing your vet as quickly as possible is important to ensure your pet is back to normal as soon as possible.
If localized, the problem is likely to resolve itself and disappear spontaneously, which happens in approximately 90 percent of cases. For severe generalized cases, long-term medication may be necessary to control the condition. Lime-sulfur dips to the affected areas may help relieve symptoms. In either case, the general health status of the animal should be evaluated.
Depending on the type of Mange and the breed of your dog, medication may be given orally or applied topically, by injection, or via shampoo and dip. The first step in the treatment of Sarcoptic Mange is isolating your dog to prevent the condition from spreading to other pets and humans. Your vet may prescribe antiparasitic medications, as well as medication to ease itching, inflammation and secondary skin infections. Results are usually seen after a month of treatment.
If your dog has been diagnosed with Sarcoptic Mange, you’ll need to thoroughly clean or replace his bedding and collar and treat all animals in contact. If you suspect a neighbor’s dog may be infected, keep your pets away to keep the disease at bay. Bring your dog to the vet periodically as recommended for recheck skin scrapes to ensure the mites have been eradicated.
Medications and managing physiological stress are essential when treating Demodectic Mange. Some infected dogs may also require special treatment-such as medicated shampoos-for secondary skin infections. Please note, many skin treatments can be toxic to dogs and should not be repeated frequently, so check with your vet before beginning any treatment program for mange.
Is There a Cure for Mange?
Puppies and younger dogs often recover fully from Mange, but adult dogs often require long-term therapy to control the disease. Dogs with Demodectic Mange should not be bred, as this condition is thought to be hereditary.
Treatment, no matter which option is chosen, should be accompanied by skin scrapes every two weeks. After two consecutive scrapes are negative, medication is discontinued, but a final scrape should be performed one month after treatment to ensure there isn’t a recurrence.
MANGE IN CATS
Cat Mange is a skin disorder caused by mites. It is not common in cats but can occur. Mites can cause a localize form of the condition that starts on the ear, face and neck. Left untreated it can spread throughout the body and become what is known as a generalized form of the condition. Common symptoms include itch, dandruff, hair loss and sores.
Cat Mange is caused by two types of mites, burrowing mites and non-burrowing mites. Burrowing mites burrow in your cat’s skin forming tunnels in which they lay their eggs. Larvae emerge then develop into nymphs then adults. The non-burrowing mites feed on skin scales; some suck tissue fluid and several suck blood.
Ear Mites (Otodectic Cynotis): Ear mites are the most common form of Mange in cats. The mites feed on scaling skin. This is a different condition from head Mange and is caused by a different type of mite that does not burrow into the skin. Common symptoms include irritation and inflammation of the ear canal. In severe cases you will see a substance oozing from the ear and red, scaly skin from secondary infections caused by bacterial or fungal infections.
Notoedric Mange (also called head mange or cat scabies): This type of Mange causes hair loss and crusty skin from mites burrowing under the skin. It is very itchy and causes cats to scratch excessively. The scratching can cause sores and bleeding of the skin. This form of Mange is very contagious and can spread to humans or other animals.
Rare forms of Mange in Cats
Demodectic Mange: This type of mange causes hair loss and small red, inflamed patches of skin. It may be localized, meaning it is restricted to a small area of the body, or generalized, meaning that it covers a large portion of the body. In severe cases, a bacterial skin infection may occur. This condition is rare in cats.
Cheyletiella Mange (also called walking dandruff): Caused by a large red mite on the skin that produces flaking that looks like dandruff. Symptoms are usually seen on the back, neck and sides and include itching and red raised bumps. Although rare in cats, it is highly contagious for humans and other animals.
Chiggers (Trombiculid Mites): The mites look like red, orange or yellow spots on the skin. Symptoms are red sores, scabs and raw skin.
Sarcoptic Mange: Causes hair loss and crusty skin in dogs. Rare in cats.
Cat Mange Diagnosis
Your veterinarian will scrape your cat’s skin and analyze the sample under a microscope for mites. The diagnosis for Demodectic Mange and Sarcoptic Mange is based on the type of mite that is found. Cigar shaped mites are demodectic and round mites are notoedric.
Since diagnosis are only accurate 50% of the time (mites may have been removed by your cat’s constant scratching, leaving only itchy toxins behind), most owners will treat for Mange and see if there is a reduction in symptoms.
Cat Mange Treatment
The preferred treatment is Ivermectin which your veterinarian will apply to the skin. For Notoedric Mange, it is usually given by injection, weekly for four weeks. An alternative that can be performed at home is a sulfur dip that can be combined with your cat’s shampoo such as Naturasil for Mange.
To prevent recurrence your Veterinarian may also recommend a product like Revolution that contains the active ingredient Selamectin.
Medicated shampoos may also be prescribed. Do not use products that have been prescribed for dogs on cats unless your vet tells you to; they may not be safe for use on cats. Dandruff shampoos can also help.
Cortisone may be prescribed by a veterinarian to relieve the itching. Topical antibiotic solutions may be prescribed to treat any open sores on the skin, while oral antibiotic medication will be prescribed for any bacterial skin infections that may have resulted from excessive scratching.
Notoedric Mange is very contagious, so all household pets should be treated, whether they have symptoms or not. Demodectic Mange is not contagious so you don’t need to worry about treating other pets unless they show symptoms.
With any type of mites, all bedding should be washed in hot water and the surrounding areas disinfected. This will prevent reinfestation. To treat your cat’s environment you might want to consider a product such as Benzarid which is made to safely remove mites from inside your home. Consult with a veterinarian for appropriate treatment.
Step 3: Community Clinics to Treat Mange
Helping poor communities in the U.S. and Mexico treat mange in their pet and homeless population is critical to curbing homelessness and unnecessary suffering. Many homeless street dogs and cats are shunned out of fear that mange will affect the human population. By offering treatable mange clinics, AAOFUS endeavors to help both the human and pet populations. If you’d like to join our efforts, we welcome your participation in this worthy program. Please contact us at: aaofus.org/contact.html
Disclaimer: The medical or veterinary information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider or veterinarian before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical or veterinary condition discussed on this site nor do we endorse specifically any test, treatment, or procedure mentioned on the site.
Article by Beatrice Joza