VCA Animal Hospitals

What is mange in dogs?

Published: Jul 10, 2012

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Mange in dogs actually refers to two separate conditions caused by small parasitic mites, which latch onto dogs' skin and hair. A dog afflicted with mange typically takes on a shaggy appearance and may begin to lose hair in bunches.

Demodectic mange is the most common form of mange in dogs, and refers to mites that reside in the animal's hair follicles. This condition is also called demodex, or "red mange." Just about all dogs have some Demodex canis parasites in their hair, but the animal's immune system keeps the organisms from causing problem. Thus, demodectic mange is typically seen in puppies whose immune systems are not yet fully developed. Mange may also occur in dogs with defective immune systems caused by other conditions.

Mange is usually characterized by hair loss in the places where the parasite resides. Depending on the extent of the problem, this may be just one area of the body (localized mange) or all over (generalized). This will ultimately affect the veterinarian's treatment of the problem. Localized mange is typically managed with topical medication, which contains the insecticide amitraz, reports VCA Animal Hospitals. Amitraz may cause vomiting in dogs for 24 to 36 hours after it is used. Dogs with generalized mange need more aggressive and long-term treatment, which may include shampoos, dips and oral medication.

The second type of mange is called sarcoptic mange, sometimes referred to as scabies. This occurs when a parasite burrows into the skin itself and is a less common, but more severe condition. Unlike demodectic mange, the dog will itch severely when this happens. This typically results in the loss of hair and may even damage the skin.

In the event of sarcoptic mange, owners should wash the dog's bedding in hot water with bleach, or consider discarding it entirely. Humans must be very careful around a dog with scabies, as the mites are highly contagious. Although the mite cannot complete its life cycle attached to a human, it will cause severe itching for a few days.

The treatments for sarcoptic mange are similar to demodectic - a mix of shampoos, oral medications and possibly even injections. However, the specific products used will differ between the two conditions. Thus, it is important to bring your dog to the veterinarian to determine whether the suspected mange is demodectic or sarcoptic. Typically, this is done by taking skin scrapings from the dog and examining them for signs of either type of mite.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.