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Mange! The Dreaded 5 Letter Word

Posted 07.20.17 by Kassie Newton, DVM

It’s like a horror movie, you can basically hear the suspenseful music playing in the background when you suddenly think to yourself, I wonder if this could be mange! Ever had this happen to you? Well, if not, consider yourself lucky. But what really is all the dread about?

Dogs and cats can both suffer from what is referred to as “mange”, but did you know there are 2 different types? One should definitely send a tremor down your spine while the other is much less scary.

Demodectic Mange

The most common type of mange that we come across is something called demodectic mange. This is a mite (a microscopic parasite) that burrows into the hair follicles in the skin, causing the hair to fall out. The most common time we see this is a young dog that suddenly starts having patchy areas of hair loss; however this can also become very extreme to the point where they will be completely bald. There are also some breeds of dogs that are predisposed including Pit Bulls, Bulldogs, Rottweiler, and Labrador Retrievers. That being said we will also see this mite in older dogs or cats of any age or breed.

The mite itself is not itchy at all; however sometimes dogs or cats will be itchy due to secondary infections that can affect their skin. Thankfully this little mite is not contagious to other dogs, cats, or humans. There are different species of this mite that can affect different species of animals.

To treat this mite there are several different options including special medicated baths, pills, liquid, or injections. Thankfully the treatment for this has made a lot of progress and we have some great options available.

Sarcoptic Mange

The second type of mange, the one that should definitely start the chills, is called sarcoptic mange, more commonly known as Scabies. This too is a microscopic mite that affects the skin, but is very different from the type above. This mite can be found to affect any animal at any age.

This mite causes extreme itch to the point where animals will sometimes scratch themselves until they are raw. It too can allow secondary infections to occur which only makes the itching worse. We will often see hair loss from the scratching as well as scabs on the skin. It also affects the entire body, not just one spot in particular. It is also VERY contagious between any mammals – meaning dogs, cats, wildlife, and yes even people.

To treat this mite is actually even easier than treating the first mite, however precautions must be taken since the animal will continue to be contagious up to 1 month after starting treatment. Treatment is most commonly in the form of a topical medication, but can also be given as injections or liquid.

What Do I Do Next?

If you are suspicious your pet may have either of these types of mange there is a test to distinguish between these mites called a skin scrape, which is performed by your veterinarian. From there we can discuss the best treatment plan for your pet and get them on the road to recovery.


Dr. Kassie Newton

The Pet Hospitals– Collierville

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