July 19

Dog Health Part 10: Skin Issues


Amongst dog lovers, Mange is a feared term and quite often only discussed in whispers.  This skin condition is actually the result of a mite infestation.  Characterized by hair loss and scaly eruptions on the skin, this mite infestation manifests itself in three forms, each with their own distinct symptoms and treatments have:




First and foremost is the Sarcoptic type.  The female mite causes this kind of mange as she damages the dog’s skin when burrowing underneath to lay her eggs. The dog itches incessantly and even more so as the eggs hatch and a new batch of female mites begins to burrow underneath the skin to lay eggs.

As the number of mites increases, so does the dog’s itching, and it is not surprising that he will scratch and bite himself until his skin is raw and bloody.



These open wounds cause sores and give way to other infections that will require antibiotic treatments.  In addition to the foregoing, because of the damage the dog will inflict to his or her own skin, it is hard for a veterinarian to actually identify the mite that causes Sarcoptic Mange.

It is important to note that this kind of mange is highly contagious to other dogs and also their human companions. While in humans this kind of mange will not run its full course, it is nonetheless a rather annoying condition.


If you suspect that your dog is suffering from Sarcoptic Mange, do not put off the trip to the veterinarian.  Your dog is feeling miserable, and needs help quickly!  Veterinarians will most likely treat any skin infections with an antibiotic while also administering a mite killer, usually Ivermectin, by injection.

In order to give the dog a little bit of comfort, your vet might also give her or him a steroid that will relieve the itch. As a follow up, you will probably want to use medicated shampoos for your dog’s regular bath to help the skin’s healing.


Another variation of mange is the Demodectic Variety. Usually, this kind is only seen in puppies and will not strike once your dog is a year old.  It is thought that the mites that cause this condition are always present on the dog’s skin, but at times a lapse in resistance to the mites may cause mange to occur.

Symptoms include hair loss around the eyes, nose, and mouth as well as on the front legs.


The obvious patches of hair loss may diagnose advanced cases. Lighter cases may run their course and then symptoms may disappear altogether, while more severe cases will require the intervention of a veterinarian.

The application of an insecticide and baths in medicated shampoo will usually take care of your puppy in no time at all.


Last is the Cheyletiella Mange which again only seems to affect puppies and not grown dogs. The perpetrator of this condition is a mite that is large enough to be seen under a magnifying glass.  Its infection causes a kind of rather noticeable dandruff on your puppy and is very contagious.


Fortunately, this is the mildest case of mange and self-corrects very shortly.


As you can see, mange comes in a number of distinct varieties that may make it harder to diagnose.  Additionally, since mites are hard to find on a dog, especially in the case of Sarcoptic mange where the skin is heavily damaged, it sometimes happens that a dog’s condition is misdiagnosed.

For this reason, it is imperative to visit a veterinarian at the first sign of trouble, when most of the skin is still intact, and your vet will be able to survey the actually mite damage as opposed to the damage your dog’s teeth and claws have done in his attempts to find some relief from the intense itching.


In the same vein, if you have a puppy of one of the breeds that is most susceptible to Demodectic mange, such as Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, Great Danes, and others, you will need to be especially vigilant at the signs of hair loss and may want to take your puppy in even if you only suspect that she or he is suffering from a mite infestation.


Treatment of any kind of Mange can be rather costly, especially if your dog is infected with more than just one type. As such, to ensure financial coverage, it is recommended that a good pet insurance covers your dog in its entirety.

Get your free pet insurance quotation here!

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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