What is Mange and What Causes It?
Mange is a skin disorder caused by parasitic mites. There are two types: Demodectic mange (also known as red mange) and Sarcoptic mange, sometimes called scabies. Demodectic mange, the most common type, is less severe than Sarcoptic mange and is not contagious. It’s an inflammatory response to a mite that lives on the skin and hair follicles of nearly all dogs, usually without causing problems. However, a compromised immune system or an unusual spike in the mite’s population can lead to irritation—this is Demodectic mange. While complications and further infection occur in rare cases, Demodectic mange normally resolves fairly quickly without requiring treatment.
Sarcoptic Mange, however, is highly contagious, and can affect dogs, cats, pigs, horses and even humans (human infestation is known as scabies). It’s caused by a mite that burrows into the skin, resulting in intense, often painful itching. Skin damage, hair loss, and scabs are all common in Sarcoptic mange. Complications are more common with this type of mange, and it’s usually much harder to get rid of, as it’s easily passed between people, pets and places that have become infested with the scabies mite.
What Are the Symptoms?
Mange symptoms vary somewhat depending on the type. Hair loss is more common with Demodectic mange, for example, and Sarcoptic mange tends to cause more intense itching, and is normally located on the ears, face, legs and elbows. But in general, the following symptoms are seen in both forms of mange:
- Hair loss and bald spots
- Redness or crusting of the skin
- Moderate to severe scratching
How Can I Prevent Mange?
Methods for preventing mange will depend on the type. Demodectic mange can normally be prevented by keeping your pet clean and healthy. Basic hygiene and a balanced diet are almost always sufficient (in general, choose fresh, organic options over pre-packaged foods). Sarcoptic mange is another issue entirely. Many of the same methods used to repel fleas and ticks can be used for scabies mites—such as regularly cleaning bedding and practicing basic pest prevention. Again, Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious, so limiting possible points of exposure is essential. Similarly, if your pet contracts scabies mites, you’ll need to isolate them, to keep them from infesting other animals and your home.
What to Do if Your Pet Has Mange
First thing’s first: take them to a veterinarian. A vet will use skin scrapings to verify a mite diagnosis. Also, a vet visit is important to rule out and prevent secondary infections from taking hold. When at all possible, natural methods are our preferred approach, as they can be both effective and non-toxic. However, never employ natural options instead of consulting a vet, do so only in conjunction with their professional advice.
4 Natural Tips for Dealing Mange:
Olive oil is said to both soothe mange-damaged skin and help control the mites that cause mange. Gently apply directly to affected areas. Just be mindful that an oily pet can easily leave oil spots on carpet, furniture and bedding.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is said to relieve itching and kill mange-causing mites. Its antiseptic and antibacterial properties can also help regulate pH levels, which will in turn aid in the healing of damaged skin. You can apply ACV directly to affected areas using a spray bottle, or if the issue is widespread, you can apply all over as a post-bath treatment. Allow the ACV to air dry. Do not use on pets with raw or otherwise damaged skin.
Natural Bug Repellents
Honey is said to help clean and relieve the sores caused by mange. Apply it directly to affected areas using a cotton ball or other gentle applicator.
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