There is little that is scarier, as a pet owner, than the process of watching your dog get sick. When you start to notice bald patches, uncomfortable behavior, or general stress, it can be easy to panic, especially if you can’t identify what might be causing your dog extra stress.
However, if you’re informed, it’ll be easier to take that initial panic and change it into action, particularly if you start to notice your dog experiencing the symptoms of red mange.
Red mange is a skin disease that goes by many names; luckily, it’s the less contagious strain of two types of mange that dogs can come in contact with.
Consider much of the following if you suspect that your dog may have contracted red mange, but remember: only your vet can really diagnose your dog with red mange, and only your vet can determine what kind of treatment will best suit your pup.
Understanding Red Mange
Red mange, puppy mange, or demodectic mange, is a skin disease passed onto dogs through parasites such as mites.
Of all the varieties of mange that a dog can become infected with, red mange is perhaps one of the most common types – and thereby one of the most treatable.
There are other types of mange in dogs, including sarcoptic mange, which is highly contagious and can spread over your dog’s whole body, and which is more frequently known as kennel mange because it is so horribly contagious.
Each of these types of mange in dogs is given to them through either demodectic canis, which carries demodectic mange, or sarcoptes scabei, which carries sarcoptic mange. These are two classes of parasite that are unfortunately very prolific.
Your dog is likely to come into contact with red mange when the parasite that carries it – again, demodex canis – digs into one of your dog’s hair follicles.
This mite will continue to live beneath the surface of your dog’s skin until you seek out treatment.
A Note on Demodectic Mites
There are different sorts of demodectic mites, unfortunately, that can make the rounds between different species of pets.
These sorts of mites can bring skin diseases to cats and humans, but demodex canis can only infect dogs with red mange.
When looking for these type of mites on your dog’s skin, you’ll want to seek an insect-like being that is shaped like an almond or a cigar and has eight legs, like a spider.
Most of the time, unfortunately, these mites are impossible to see with the naked eye, but if, on a visit to the vet, your veterinarian identifies a mite of this sort, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of mange you’re dealing with.
On average, demodectic mites live between twenty and thirty days, just under the length of a month.
However, the female mites (like many female mites) have the capacity to lay a number of eggs beneath your dog’s skin, meaning that regardless of lifespan, without treatment, your dog will always be victim to the whims of the mites.
Transmission of Mites and Mange
As previously mentioned, some types of mange, like sarcoptic mange, is highly contagious. Luckily, though, red mange is not nearly as prolific.
This doesn’t mean that it can’t be transferred from dog to dog with ease, though. In fact, because red mange is so often seen in puppies, it is considered a hereditary mange.
When a female dog is nursing her puppies, and if she’s come into contact with demodectic mites, then it’s almost guaranteed that the puppies will have red mange.
However, humans cannot contract red mange, and the mites themselves don’t spread into the home. They prefer keeping to the dogs that they’ve made a home on, as convenient and horrifying as that sounds.
Types of Red Mange
To make matters even more complex, on the topic of mange, there are multiple types of demodectic (or red) mange.
These types of mange discuss the areas on a dog’s body that the mange infects, as opposed to areas in which your dog can come into contact with the mites that carry it.
Localized mange sees your dog experiencing the symptoms of mange – dry skin or bald patches – in a concentrated and contained area.
This sort of mange is even more common in puppies than the “puppy mange” is said to be, because the suckling of puppies can result in the transfer of the mites from mother to pup.
Generalized mange expands on the mange that your dog has to deal with, spreading out from localized version’s smaller areas and building until it impacts the whole of your dog’s body.
If your dog has a notably poor immune system, or if your dog is getting older, then they may fall victim to generalized demodectic mange.
Demodectic pododermatitis is perhaps the most resistant type of red mange, and results from the mites in question digging deep into your dog’s skin.
This sort of mange typically appears on your dog’s paws and can be somewhat painful for your pup, especially if it comes paired with a bacterial infection.
Causes of Red Mange
Some of the causes of red mange have already been discussed, as red mange is the lesser contagious type of mange.
There are a number of dog breeds, though, which are predisposed to be victims of it.
These breeds of dogs include:
- Pit Bull Terriers.
- Afghan Hounds.
- Chow Chows.
- Border Collies.
- Doberman Pinschers.
- German Shepherds.
- Great Danes.
However, there are also other weaknesses or conditions that may result in your dog contracting red mange more easily than another dog.
These include a proclivity for bacterial infections, anxiety that encourages over-grooming or itching, pregnancy, nursing puppies, or an especially weak immune system.
Symptoms of Red Mange in Dogs
When it comes to skin diseases, there are a number of predictable symptoms that your dog may display.
However, when it comes to red mange, you’ll want to keep a specific eye out for some of the following:
Because of the presence of mites in your dog’s hair follicles, it’s likely that your dog will start to lose some of their fur.
If they itch excessively, as they may, scabs and sores may form on the revealed skin, but these can also form as a result of the mites digging deeper in.
Itchy, Crusty Skin
As previously suggested, your dog is likely to become exceptionally itchy upon contracting red mange.
The scabs that are likely to form as a result will be more than typical scabs or sores; it’s possible that they may ooze and make the fur that your dog retains look exceptionally greasy.
As the condition of your dog’s skin worsens, it’s possible that your dog will contract elephant’s skin or a yeast infection of the skin that comes from an increased activity of negative bacteria on the wounds your dog has received from the mites.
This will be very uncomfortable and cause them to scratch further.
Because the mites will have dug deep into your dog’s skin, there will likely be bumps in between your dog’s hair follicles or beneath them.
If you’re petting your dog and you notice a change in the texture of their fur and skin, then it’s possible that your dog will have contracted the demodectic mites.
Other symptoms are likely to include:
- Flaking skin.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Loss of appetite.
Demodectic Mange Treatment
Once you’ve started to notice some of the aforementioned symptoms, you’ll want to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Your vet will be able to diagnose your dog effectively and to provide you treatment for any of the three previously mentioned types of red mange that your dog could have possibly contracted.
Most of the time, localized demodectic mange runs a quick and easy course. The mange itself will still be painful for your dog to experience, but this is the least severe type to come in contact with.
However, if your dog contracts a bacterial infection along with localized mange, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics which you’ll have to administer with creativity and care.
Generalized mange requires more straightforward, technical treatment.
These sorts of treatments can include special shampoos, topical medications, bath dips to clean your dog’s fur, or oral medications that can help combat both secondary bacterial infections and the presence of mites beneath your dog’s skin.
It is possible that the oral prescriptions may put your dog’s immune system at further risk, much like dog steroids do, but communicate with your veterinarian if you believe this to be the case and see if there isn’t an alternative path that you and your dog can take.
As the most severe variant of red mange, pododermatitis requires more intense treatment. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics as well as anti-fungal creams or oral medication for your dog to take.
During the course of treatment, you’ll also need to ensure that your dog remains well-fed and hydrated, as well as unstressed as possible.
It’s unlikely that your dog will have to be placed in a cone but if their itching gets too severe or to the point where they’re causing harm to themselves, such treatment may become necessary.
While your dog is receiving any variety of treatment, do take care to clean the materials with which you brush and bathe your dog.
While red mange-carry mites are unlikely to transfer to these materials, the extra cleanliness will ensure that your dog is treated as well as possible during this stressful time.
Here’s a video showing more information on demodectic mange.
Do you have any tips for dealing with red mange?