Mange is a skin disease caused by several species of tiny mites that are common external parasites found in companion canines. There are some mange mites that are normal for your dog’s skin and hair to have, while others do not belong. If mites multiply, they can cause mild to severe skin infections.
All puppies raised normally by their mothers have demodectic mange mites. They are transferred from the mother to the puppy when they are cuddling during the first few days of life. Most puppies live with their mites and don’t suffer any consequences.
Types of Mange
A localized case of demodectic mange happens when the mites multiply in one or two small, confined areas. This creates scaly bald patches on the dog’s face, which have a polka-dot effect. This is considered to be a common condition for puppies, and about 90% of these cases are resolved with no treatment of any kind.
Mange becomes more troublesome when it is labeled generalized, as if affects larger areas of skin or a puppy’s entire body. The dog often develops secondary bacterial infections which are itchy and rather smelly. This type of mange may also be a sign of a weakened immune system, hereditary problem, endocrine problem or other underlying health issue. There is also a form of mange that is confined to the foot area. It is accompanied by bacterial infections.
It is commonly believed that the mites that cause mange can be transferred from one dog to another. However, if the dog is healthy, no skin disease will result.
Symptoms of Mange
What symptoms the puppy has depends on which type of mite is present. If a dog has demodectic mange, this will cause hair loss, bald spots, scabs and sores. Secondary bacterial infections may develop which may make the dog itchy and uncomfortable.
Sarcoptic mange causes intense itching. As a result, restlessness and scratching appear a week after the dog is exposed. Hair loss, reddened skin, body sores and scabs may develop.
What to Do
Puppies that are less than 18 months old are especially prone to developing localized mange which will clear up on its own. Generalized mange can develop due to heredity. You need to make sure you isolate your dog to stop the condition from spreading to other pets and humans.
Take your dog to a veterinarian who will give the puppy a physical exam, analyze skin scrapings and try to confirm the presence of mange mites with a microscope.
To treat mange, medication may be given orally or applied topically, by an injection or by using a shampoo and dip. Your veterinarian may prescribe antiparasitic medications and medicine to ease itching, inflammation and secondary skin infections. It usually takes about a month for results to occur.
To prevent a recurrence of mange, you should clean or replace his bedding as well as his collar and treat all animals in contact with the puppy.