Types of Mange in Dogs & Cats

Types of Mange in Dogs & Cats

Several types of mange attack dogs and cats.

Mange is the name of a skin condition caused by an infection of any of several species of parasitic mites. Most mange mites are very small and are difficult to see without magnification. Mange mites have 8 legs as adults and mite larvae have 6 legs.

There are two primary types of mites which are responsible for mange. Though mites can cause several different types of mange in cats and dogs, the most common types are Sarcoptic and Demodectic (both seen mostly in dogs). Sarcoptic Mites burrow under the skin and Demodectic Mites live in hair follicles or on the surface of the skin. The mange “condition” that is observed from a mite infection is typically caused by a reaction to mites by the host body’s immune system. 

Less common mange types include Notoedric (seen mostly in cats), Otodectic (infecting ears of dogs and cats), and Psoroptic (seen mostly in rabbits).

More common mange types include Sarcoptic Mange (caused by burrowing mites) and Demodectic Mange (caused by surface mites).

Sarcoptic Mange mites burrow under the skin in tunnels made by female mites. Females can lay 3 eggs per day in the tunnels for up to 3 weeks. The eggs hatch in 3 to 5 days and the mites remain in burrows until adults, where they mate on the surface of the skin. The entire life cycle takes 2-3 weeks. The mange condition due to sarcoptic mites is caused by the body’s allergic response to the saliva of the mites and their excrement in the tunnels they make in the animal’s skin. Mange infections are typically characterized by persistently itchy skin, bad odor, blisters, and raw, bloody areas where the animal’s hair has been chewed or scratched off. By frantically scratching and chewing to get relief, the host is spreading the infection and could also be introducing secondary infections. Untreated Sarcoptic Mite infestations can lead to death.

Demodectic Mange mites live in the hair follicles of their host. These mites are a problem for dogs, but much less so for cats. The full life cycle of these mites takes about 4 weeks. Demodectic mange often indicates weakness in the hosting animal’s immune system, though other mange types can indicate this as well. Some dog breeds are more prone to demodectic mange including Collies, Afghans, Shepherds, Dobermans, Akitas, English Sheepdogs, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, terriers and beagles.

Demodectic mange presents as red bald patches on the head. There is often a bad odor as well. If the condition worsens, and the skin bleeds, it is usually called “red mange.” This type of mange can be defeated by the immune system of healthy animals, however secondary infections will often occur, requiring additional treatment to avoid severe problems which could lead to death.

Notoedric Mange is caused by a type of mite which infects cats. Though it does not infect dogs, it can temporarily infect humans. These mites are very similar to sarcoptic mites, however their life cycle takes half the time (6-10 days). Notoedric Mange usually begins on the cat’s head. Symptoms are similar to sarcoptic mange, with furious itching, bad odor, blisters and raw, bloody areas of chewed off skin. Like Sarcoptic Mange, Notoedric Mange left untreated can lead to death.

Otodectic Mange is caused by ear mites and is common in both cats and dogs. Most of the ear mite’s life cycle is spent in the ear canal. Otodectic Ear Mites feed on skin, blood and other fluids found in the skin of the ear.

Symptoms of ear mites include frequent ear scratching, bad smell, and discharge. Left untreated, Otodectic Mange can also cause seizures in cats. If your dog or cat has Otodectic Mange, EcoEars products for dogs and cats is an effective control solution and cleaner.

Though mange on humans does occur, it is temporary, as mange mites can not live on humans for long. Mange spreads to people from an infected dog or cat, but any infections are short lived. Human infections of Sarcoptic Mange mites are called scabies.

Prevention of mange starts with good hygiene and nutrition. Since the vast majority of mange is passed along by direct contact with an infected animal, once a mite infection has been identified, the infected animal should be quarantined.

Mange treatment involves quarantining the infected host, treating the infection and treating the animal’s living areas. For treating Otodectic Mange, Vet Organics produces a safe and effective natural product called EcoEars. EcoEars is a simple two-minute treatment, done twice a day which involves squirting the product in the infected ear. For Demodectic and mild cases of Sarcoptic Mange, EcoSpot is a natural solution which has been very effective. For Sarcoptic Mange and more severe demodectic mange issues, we recommend EcoMange.   

Pharmaceutical medications are available, however their track record is spotty when compared to natural treatments and there are often side effects as a result of use.  Some commonly used prescription medications include:

Ivermectin. This is a first line of  treatment for many veterinarians, however it is not meant for this purpose and is considered “off-label” when used to treat mites. One issue with this drug is that it remains in the body for a long time. It is given in weekly or bi-weekly injections, often in multiple doses. Some dogs have a genetic mutation which can render Ivermectin toxic and can cause severe side effects and possibly death.

Selamectin. Commonly sold as Revolution, Selamectin is often used for prevention and treatment of fleas and ticks. Anecdotal evidence shows that chemicals like these remain in a dog’s blood and organs in much higher levels than are claimed in early studies. This medication is essentially a pesticide which kills parasites by penetrating the skin and entering your dog’s circulatory system.

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