Most pet owners have heard of scabies. But what exactly is it, and what treatments are available? For those who have never encountered the condition, this article also provides the symptoms of the two most common types – demodectic and sarcoptic mange.
The root cause is mites. These goobers cause problems when their population grows too large, resulting in demodectic mange, or the species is a different parasitic kind, which causes sarcoptic scabies. The demodectic variety lives on nearly all dogs, but the animals don’t show symptoms because the mites are few. Even when the mites trigger mange, the condition is not infectious. Owners can freely handle their pets during treatment without fear of catching the Big Scratch. On the other hand, sarcoptic mange is very contagious. Pets catch it from other infected animals.
The skin’s condition often reveals which one you’re dealing with. Both cause extreme itching and hair loss, but does your dog’s bald patch look normal? That’s demodectic mange. Is it reddish, sore-looking, even cracking, crusty and infected? Unfortunately, that’s the other kind. The bad news is that sarcoptic spreads like wildfire over the entire body. Just imagine what a pet goes through, with irritable and painful skin everywhere. Diagnosis and treatment must happen as soon as possible.
Although sarcoptic mange is fairly obvious to the eye, it’s best to get an official diagnosis. A vet can determine the type based on tests and by observing the symptoms. Luckily, there’s plenty of help available for mange. Here’s a bob of good news. Demodectic scabies usually resolves itself once the pet’s immune system recovers. A flare-up of demodectic mites can only happen when the immune system is weak. This happens when animals starve or experience stressful situations like abuse. There are more severe cases, but a vet will provide an ointment or dip and prescribe medication, usually antibiotics. Mites run from antibiotics like people run from the taxman.
Treating sarcoptic mange is more difficult, but not hopeless. This is why a vet appointment is so critical. A professional eye must assess the animal’s condition and formulate a battle plan. This would include dips and ointments, and most likely injections and pills. Dipping needs to be repeated roughly two or three times a week for several weeks, depending on the severity of the case. One must also keep in mind that other pets in the household must be treated to prevent the affected dog from giving them the parasitic mites. Very often, the best way to prevent this is to keep the pet in a separate, but comfortable and spacious area, which you can easily disinfect on a daily basis. A guest room with tiles is perfect.
Animals with mange are often discarded because people believe they are dirty and dangerous. That’s not the case. Even when humans contract sarcoptic mange, the differences in our skin prevent the parasites from causing the same damage we see in dogs. The worse a person can expect is to be really itchy for a while!