Mites are members of the arachnid (spider) family. Here are the most common dog mite species:
- Mange in dogs is called Demodex canis
- Sarcoptes scabiei
- Cheyletiella Commonly known as Walking Dandruff
There is another member of the dog mites’ family - Otodectes Cynotis, more commonly called "Ear Mites". If you would like to learn more about them, visit our Ear Mites page.
Mange is not just one disease it is caused by several different types of mites
It is always a good idea to take your dog to a vet to make sure that it has Mange and not some other disease or internal parasite some of which mirror the same symptoms as Mange or Dog Mites.
Demodectic Mange also known as Demodicosis or Red Mange is a skin infestation that is caused by a microscopic mite known as Demodex Canis. This is a very small mite that is almost invisible without the aid of a microscope. It has 8 legs and is spider like in appearance.
The female mite can lay up to 40 eggs during its short lifetime and in doing so will burrow beneath the skin creating a tiny tunnel or burrow to lay the eggs in. The eggs take about 4 days to hatch and in10 days total they are mature and the new mites are able to lay more eggs.
The Demodectic mite will only live about 21 days and in very cold weather, when the dog is outside and may kill the mites in as little as 11 to 12 days. This dramatically slows the growth of the mite population. Once the mites have hatched they move out of the tunnels they hatched in and move back to the surface of the skin or around the hair follicles and are then able to breed, feed and move onto another dog or onto you if you touch them or wait in the furniture they lay on for another host. Mites infesting your animal begin to find areas of the body to shelter in that are less exposed to attack by the dog. Mange symptoms commonly appear first on the face, around the eyes, around the corners of the mouth, and on the forelegs or paws. The first symptoms of the mites’ infestation occur because they trigger an allergic reaction from the mites’ eggs, secretions, and feces. It is easy for the pet to become sleep deprived and stressed due to the intense itching when it tries to sleep.
The Demodex mite very commonly resides in and around the hair follicles of the dog or puppies skin out of site and without causing any distress to the dog and often will cause no symptoms at all. Stress or an immature or damaged immune system can trigger the mites to begin multiplying rapidly.
Poor dog nutrition can also be a cause of mites growing and the immune system not responding. Even if you are feeding your dog premium dog foods remember that the food they are getting is made from processing plants using left-over’s that are judged to be not fit for human consumption.
Many people have fed their dogs’ raw meat to get the immune system back to working again. Use your own judgment on the diet but that is a component of mange becoming an issue with the dog.
Puppies are often infested from the mother and before the immune system fully develops they can just take over the dog. If the dog heals itself then it is still suitable for breeding since some of the susceptibility to mange is passed on genetically many breeders will not breed a dog that needed Mange treatment.
If the dog is ever re-infested the dog will show the symptoms faster than the first time since the dogs retain sensitivity to the mites.
Mange is highly contagious among other dogs and can be easily passed around by direct contact with other dogs or objects infested, so if the dog is allowed to run with other dogs that may be infested then it can easily transfer back after it has been cured.
Sarcoptic Mange is usually diagnosed by Veterinarians by taking several skin scrapings from various parts of the body and examining them under a microscope to find the Sarcoptic Mange mites.
The Sarcoptes mites usually only exist in small numbers on the dog and may not be found in any of the skin scrapings because the dogs tend to lick and chew at the trouble spots removing some of the active mites.
The diagnosis of Sarcoptic Mange is not always easy since the mites may not be in the scrapings the Veterinarian will often just use symptoms along with looking for the mites. Veterinarians use a simple trick to see if there is mange when the tests do not show it. They manipulate the ear of the dog and gently scratch it and see if one of the dogs’ hind legs will move in a scratching motion as well.
This reflex is called the Pedal-Pinna Reflex and happens because mites grow on the ear margins in nearly all cases. The method is rated as nearly 95% effective in finding Mange even if that were the only test given. It is a useful test to when the symptoms of Mange are present but few or no mites are to be found to confirm the diagnosis.Stop your dog from
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