WHAT IS MANGE?
Mange refers to skin diseases caused by mites. The term is derived from a French word mangeue, which translates into “to eat or itch.” Mange, caused by different kinds of mites, affects many kinds of animals, including humans.
In dogs, there are two major forms of mange, each caused by different mites:
Sarcoptic Mange (also known as scabies)
Also known as canine scabies, this disease is caused by a circular-shaped, eight-legged mite called the Sarcoptes scabiei. This form of mange is highly contagious. The parasite can be transmitted from dog to dog and can pass from dogs to humans, although it doesn’t thrive on non-canine hosts. Female mites burrow into the skin to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch in about three weeks, and the young feed on the host’s skin.
Demodectic Mange (also known as red mange or Demodex)
Demodectic mange, or Demodex, is caused by a cigar-shaped mite, Demodex Canis. The difference from sarcoptic mange is that these are a normal part of the skin flora, always present, and usually harmless. They are passed to pups from their mothers in the first few days after birth, but it is not contagious to humans. The mites take up residence deep in hair follicles and stay there, causing no trouble. A normal immune system keeps their numbers in check. But in a dog with a weakened immune system, they can grow out of control. Dogs at risk of demodectic mange include:
- Puppies who inherit weakness in their immune systems will be prone to a particularly serious form of Demodex, known as juvenile-onset.
- Young healthy dogs may develop some patches of Demodex, which sometimes go away on their own or with localized topical treatment.
- Elderly, sick, neglected, or stray dogs with weakened immune systems often develop Demodex. For example, cancer or diabetes can impair immune function and lead to this form of mange.