You may know the term “mangy mutt”, but do you really know what mange is? There are many reasons for itchy skin, hair loss, and other dermatological problems in our animal friends. Learn all about mange in pets and how to know when this diagnosis is the culprit.

What Is Mange in Pets

Mange is a term for a broader skin condition caused by mites on the skin. There are several different types of mange, and each of these crawly critters can colonize the skin and cause problems.

Mange can be found in many species. The most common types include:

Sarcoptic mange – The Sarcoptes mite is the cause of this type of mange. Its overgrowth results in itchy lesions typically found on the ears, belly, and face and can spread from animal to animal via direct contact. While the Sarcoptes mite likes to stick to its species of choice, it can temporarily infect people. This infection is better known as scabies.

Demodectic mange – If the immune system is compromised or lowered, overgrowth of the Demodex mite can lead to demodectic mange. This mite lives on pets in small numbers normally, but when they begin to overgrow, hair loss and scaly patches can result. Infection can be in small, localized patches, or may affect a large area. Demodectic mange is typically not contagious from pet to pet.

Notoedric mange – Notoedres is a cat-specific mite that results in a scabies-like infection. Cats infected with this type of mange often are very itchy, especially around the face and ears.

Diagnosing and Treating Skin Problems

Many pet skin problems can look very similarly, so if your pet is itchy, scaly, smelly, or bald, it is important for you to trust your friends at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital to run diagnostic tests and get to the bottom of the issue.

Because mange in pets can dwell deep in the skin and down in the hair follicles, we often perform a test called a skin scraping to look for mites. During this procedure, we use a scalpel blade to gently scrape the surface of the skin, teasing out potential parasitic squatters. The debris is then examined under the microscope.

Some mites, especially Sarcoptes, are notoriously difficult to find. In these situations, skin biopsies or empirical treatment may be recommended if mange is suspected.

We have several effective options for treating mange in pets. Depending on the type of mange and the individual situation, topical and/or oral treatments may be recommended. It is extremely important to return for follow-up visits after your pet is treated for mange in order to prevent relapses.

Mange in pets is a fairly common dermatological issue, but luckily we have some very effective treatment options. So fear not if your precious pet is having skin issues and give us a call. We are here to help.