Some species of mange mites live naturally on a dog's skin and fur. However, when these mites proliferate or when the dog is infected by other species of mites, they cause skin infections in their host.
Demodectic Mange Mites
Demodectic mange mites do not cause skin disease in most dogs. However, when their numbers multiply, it can result in three types of mange. Localized mange causes bald, scaly patches on the skin. It usually resolves itself without treatment and is most common in puppies. Generalized demodectic mange can affect the dog's entire body and often results in secondary skin infections. Mange specific to the foot is called demodectic pododermatitis. Demodectic mange does not infect humans or cats.
Sarcoptic Mange Mites
Sarcoptic mange, also called canine scabies, causes dogs to itch intensely. Hair loss, red skin and scabs also may appear. These mites are easily transmitted between dogs. Humans can contract sarcoptic mange from infected dogs, resulting in red bumps that create a rash.
Treatments and Medications
Dogs with sarcoptic mange must be isolated to avoid infecting other dogs or people. Anti-parasitic medications help rid the dog of mites. Additional medication may be prescribed to help control itching and inflammation and treat secondary infections. Medication may be administered orally, topically or by injection. Dogs with localized demodectic mange usually respond to topical treatments. Generalized demodectic mange often requires oral medication and medicated shampoos or dips. Owners should use these as prescribed as many skin treatments become toxic if overused. During treatment, the vet may test skin scrapes from the dog to ensure the treatment is working.
Mange Home Remedies
Dog owners can try home remedies to treat mange after consulting with a veterinarian. Supplements to boost the dog's immune systems to fight the disease include selenium, zinc and omega-3s. Herbs such as echinacea, milk thistle and burdock root may help. Essential oils including cistus, clove and mountain savory may be used topically or orally to treat mange. Applying apple cider vinegar to sores may help, but can be painful for your dog. Borax and tea tree oil should be avoided as they are toxic to dogs.
Mites in the Home
Because demodectic mange mites naturally exist on a dog and do not infect humans, it isn't necessary to attempt to remove them from bedding. However, if a dog is diagnosed with sarcoptic mange owners should thoroughly wash or replace all of the dogs bedding, collars and harnesses.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- WebMD: Mange in Dogs (Canine Scabies)
- ASPCA: Mange
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Mange - Demodectic in Dogs
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies)
- The Whole Dog: Demodectic Mange/Alternative Therapies for Treatment
- Pet Place: The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out on Holistic and Natural Flea Treatments
- PetMD: Is Tea Tree Oil Safe for Pets?