For hundreds of years, our domesticated canines have been well known as man’s best friend. So why shouldn’t we treat their illnesses with the same care and caution we use with the rest of our family? An ugly sickness in animals that likes to rear its head is pet mange. Caused by pet mites, mange causes severe itching and raised red bumps (similar to what we as humans experience with scabies). The worst part about this illness is that it not only can cause your dog’s hair to fall out, it also weakens their immune system which opens the door to other infections.
Animals are born with a certain amount of Demodex mites inhabiting their hair follicles, just as humans are born with various bacteria already on our skin and in our body, but the immune system keeps these populations in check and stops them from proliferating and causing issues. When an animal’s immune system becomes weakened, these mites are allowed to reproduce without any checks or balances.
There are many different types of mites, but another one that can cause animals grief is the Sarcoptic mite. These mites migrate from animal to animal and can live without a host for up to 72 hours; this means that if you take your dog to a dog park where another dog with Sarcoptic mites has been, any mites that jumped ship and decided to hang out in the park may use your dog as its next home.
These mites are ruthless parasites that will feed off of your pets until you intercede. Once an animal has pet mange, its immune system is typically not strong enough to fight them back on its own and will require help. It is important to understand the symptoms of pet mange and be able to recognize it because it is very contagious. If you suspect your dog may have pet mange, check out our article on symptoms to make a concrete decision. If you are still unsure, visit your pet’s veterinarian and voice your concerns.
Recent research has also suggested there is a certain amount of genetic predisposition to mange. With a genetic predisposition, all that would be required is a trigger to set off the immune system and let the mites take over. This is even more of a reason to do what you can to keep your pet healthy year round. Just like humans take vitamins everyday to stay healthy, consider giving your pet vitamins every day to keep his immune system up to par.