One step out the door and my black lab went nuts. There was a small fox in the yard. It was missing fur, had multiple bloody sores and looked ill. I googled “foxes and mange.”
What is Mange?
Mange is a skin disease caused by mites. It affects furry animals such as cats, dogs, sheep, coyotes, foxes, and bears. The mites get under the skin and cause hair loss, sores and crusty patches on our furry friends. The condition causes itching and is very painful.
Types of Mange
There are two types of mange, demodectic and sarcoptic. Demodectic causing mites live on dog’s skin. They become a problem when a dog’s immune system cannot keep the mites under control. Sarcoptic mange is caused by a parasitic mite that starts in one spot and can cover the entire dog if not treated.
Demodectic mange is not contagious, sarcoptic, also known as scabies, is contagious. The post focuses on sarcoptic.
How Does a Dog Get Mange?
There are several ways a dog (or any furry animal) can get mange.
- Wildlife – Animals, such as a fox, can visit your yard and bring the mites. The fox in my yard was rolling around on his back, like a dog, spreading mites in the grass!
- Dogs – Dogs playing together, rolling around where they have close contact, can transfer mites. Think dog parks or any area where dogs may rub up against each other.
- Kennels, Shelters, Boarding Facilities – If an infected dog is present, it will drop mites for other dogs. The more dogs in an area, the higher the chances of contracting mange from mites.
- Dog Beds and Blankets – Mites can live on a dog’s bed or blanket for weeks. If a dog with mites goes on a bed or blanket, the mites will contaminate it. This is why it is so important to wash dog bed covers and blankets often – in hot water with a hot dry.
- Groomers – Responsible groomers will not take a dog with mange as not only will other dogs get it, but the groomer can also get it. Mites can live on towels, mats, leashes, and brushes.
What does mange look like on a dog?
A dog with mange will have hair loss, crusty sores and be in pain. It can be localized or cover the entire body. If left untreated, the dog’s skin hardens.
Can Humans Get Mange?
Yes! It is highly contagious to other dogs and humans. After contact with an infected pet, humans may get reddish welts and experience severe itching . If your dog has mange and anyone in your home feels itchy or develops a rash, you can try a cortisone cream or call your doctor. The mites will eventually die but best to treat the extreme itching.
How to treat mange in dogs at home
As with most conditions, the early you treat it the better. Early signs include itching and redness on the edges of the ears, chest, elbows, belly and hocks (ankles). If you think your dog has mange, call the vet to confirm the diagnosis. Untreated, it can spread very fast.
Treatments focus on healing the skin and controlling the mites. There are several home remedies that your vet may recommend (Canine Journal):
- Brush the fur to remove scaly skin and scabs
- Apply two tablespoons of plain yogurt to the ears (if anywhere else, the dog will lick it off!)
- Add 1 TB apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food
- Put 2 drops of cooking oil on the infected area
- Slice a lemon and put in boiling water. Let sit overnight and apply with a sponge
- Wash dog with warm soapy water
- Clean your dog’s bedding, blankets and other areas where he hangs out
- Bathe weekly with a medicated shampoo to help heal and soften skin
What medicine treats mange in dogs?
Oral flea products that treat fleas and ticks will kill sarcoptic mites. Examples: Nexgard®, Simparica®, Braveto®. Your vet will need to prescribe these as they require a prescription.
How to prevent mange in dogs
If you know an area is visited by wildlife, such as foxes, avoid the area.
Keep your dog and his environment clean! Overall health is important to create immunity to many conditions. Two basics: Good diet and a clean bed. Be sure to wash your dog’s bed cover weekly.
If caught early, your dog will not have to deal with the severe itching, sores and hardened skin related to mange. To help avoid getting and/or spreading contracting mange in your home:
- Keep your dog’s bed and blankets clean.
- If you dog is infected, wash any bedding (hot wash and dry), collars, leashes, and harnesses
- Do not let children cuddle or sleep on a dog’s bed
- Call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog is infected
- Avoid areas where wildlife spend time
Alt, Kimberly, “What Is Mange In Dogs? Treatment, Home Remedies, What Does It Look Like, How Do They Get It, & More”, Canine Journal, 03/18/2022.
Brooks, Wendy, DVM, DABVP, “Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies) in Dogs”, Veterinary Partner, 03/30/2021.
Dog on grass: Bella Pisani on Unsplash
Dog with mange: By self - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1378477