Mange is a skin infection caused by mites, and each species causes a different type of disease. Many different types of animals can get mange, although it's most common in dogs. The best treatment depends on the animal, the type of mite, and the location of the infection on the body. Oral and topical medications, injections, and special shampoos and dips are used to treat this condition.
Cheyletiella is a genus of mite that causes the least serious form of mange although it is very contagious. Also known as "walking dandruff," this condition usually manifests itself in itching and light flakes over the animal's head and shoulders. The mite dies soon after leaving the host, so usually bathing the pet in a medicated shampoo is usually all that is necessary for treatment. Some types of flea control insecticides can also treat walking dandruff effectively.
Also known as feline scabies or cat mange, notoedric mange is most common in cats, but can also affect squirrels and other wild animals. It usually infects the head and neck of the animal, causing extreme itching and hair loss, as well as crusty yellow areas. These mites are very contagious and can spread to people and other pets, but cannot reproduce on these other animals.
Most cats respond well to a series of lime-sulfur dips, which combine calcium hydroxide (or slaked lime) and sulfur. When diluted, this mix is very effective at killing many different types of mites, including those that cause notoedric mange. Although generally safe for most cats, it's important for pet owners to take the cat to a veterinarian first for a diagnosis, however, and to follow his or her instructions exactly for treating the pet. Some veterinarians use oral medications as well, but most are not approved for treating cats.
Sarcoptic mange, caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, is a serious but generally very treatable condition. It is common in dogs, and can be transmitted to humans, in which case it is called scabies, and other animals, including cats and pigs. This condition generally starts with intense itching and some hair loss. The animal will scratch and bite at its skin furiously, and can cause injuries that may become infected. The ears often crust over first, followed by hair loss on the elbows, legs, and face.
The pet will need a trip to the vet's office to confirm the diagnosis and to be treated, and it can be difficult to diagnose, especially if another infection has developed in the injured skin. Cutting back the remaining hair in any affected area is often necessary. The family should be cautious about handling the animal, since this condition is contagious and can spread to other pets as well as people.
Ivermectin is the treatment of choice for sarcoptic mange in dogs, and is usually administered in two doses, two weeks apart. Some breeds are especially sensitive to this medication, however, and should not use it; repeated treatments with certain insecticides like selamectin can also kill mites. Dogs and other animals may also require antibiotics and medicated baths for skin infections and itch relief. As with notoedric mange, lime-sulfur dips can be effective, as can phosmet, an organophosphate insecticide. Pet owners should note that not all dips are safe for all pets — phosmet should not be used on cats or puppies, for example — so a veterinarian should always be consulted before treating any animal.
Demodectic mange, also called red mange, is one of the most severe types. Most dogs have the Demodex mite on their skin, but suppressed immune systems can cause them to reproduce quickly. Young dogs are the most susceptible; puppies receive the mites from their mother. In the localized form, hair loss occurs around the face or eyes and may go away without treatment.
In the generalized form, however, the Demodex mites burrow deep into the skin in other parts of the body, making it irritated and itchy. Sores follow, and secondary skin infection is not uncommon. In some cases, mites can infest the paws very deeply, a condition known as demodectic pododermatitis. A veterinarian will want to take regular skin scrapings to make a correct diagnosis and to monitor the treatment progress. In the case of demodectic pododermatitis, a biopsy may be necessary to identify the mites.
Veterinarians are divided on the best treatment for demodectic mange. Some recommend a small, daily ivermectin dose, along with medicated baths. This works for many dogs, but some, especially those in the herding group, can have a severe reaction to ivermectin.
The other treatment is a medicated benzoyl peroxide shampoo, followed by an amitraz dip. When the pesticide dip is used at least twice a week, at double strength, the results are typically very good. Amitraz can produce a sedative effect, and should not be used on puppies less than four months old or small breeds.
When a dog has demodectic mange, it is crucial to follow through the entire course of treatment, for as long as the vet prescribes. This condition can recur if not eradicated entirely. The vet will want to take a skin scraping about a month after the final treatment, just to make certain the disease has been eliminated.
How Long is Mange Contagious After Treatment?
Since mange is caused by mites, the risk of spreading the infection to others depends on the survival of the mites. As long as any of the mites or their eggs are alive on your pet, the condition may be contagious. This also applies to any bedding, toys or parts of your house where the mites could be, although the parasites usually don’t live very long when separated from a living host.
The essential question, then, is how long will it take to kill all of the mites? The amount of time necessary to eradicate the parasites causing your pet’s condition may vary by the type of mange, the method of treatment, and the severity of the infection.
If there is one good thing that can be said about demodectic mange, it is the fact that it is rarely spread to humans or other animals. This is very fortunate, because the battle to completely clear demodectic mange can take months. However, the fact that you are unlikely to be infected by your pet is no reason to be relaxed about demodectic mange; you must be conscientious in your pet’s treatment to defeat this serious mange completely.
The cheyletiella parasite that causes “walking dandruff” can be treated quite successfully and easily in most cases. With a few medicated baths, and perhaps one or two weekly applications of an over-the-counter flea and tick treatment, a typical case of cheyletiellosis should be cleared up within two to three weeks.
Notoedric mange can take a month or more to treat, depending on the severity of your cat’s case. Because cats are more sensitive to insecticides and other chemicals, many owners and vets prefer either lime sulfur dips or lower doses of topical insecticides. Some oral medications may work faster: however, cutting treatment time by a week or two should be weighed against safety concerns, such as the pet’s age or other medications that may have dangerous interactions.
Sarcoptic mange is one of the more contagious forms of mange, so pet owners are naturally eager to get it under control quickly. As already noted, eradicating the parasite is the only way to ensure this. Luckily, sarcoptic mange usually responds well to ivermectin, which should clear the mange within a month or less. Getting your pet diagnosed as soon as possible so that the appropriate treatment can be started is the key to minimizing the contagiousness of sarcoptic mange.
How Much is Mange Treatment
Because mange can often require repeated treatments to resolve, most pet owners are concerned about the costs of such ongoing treatment. The type of mange your pet has will determine the types of treatment recommended, which will have an impact on cost. Your vet should advise you on what will be safest and most effective for your pet, while also keeping your concerns about cost in mind.
On the lower end of the scale, the popular lime sulfur dip that has been a staple of mange treatment for years may cost $15 per bottle or less. Since dip treatment may take more applications over a number of weeks, the cost-effectiveness will depend on how many treatments are necessary to clear your pet’s infection. This trusted treatment remains one of the most affordable options, provided your pet’s type of mange is one that responds to it.
Medicated shampoos, such as those containing benzoyl peroxide, are likewise quite easy to find at prices ranging from $15 to $20 per bottle. These shampoos are often used in combination with other treatments, and once again the amount of time the product has to be used will affect the final cost.
Current popular insecticide treatments can be significantly more expensive. Internal anti-parasite drugs like ivermectin, as well as topical treatments like imidacloprid can easily cost $100 or more per box or bottle. The upfront cost of these products may be partially offset if they take a shorter time to work, but that is not always guaranteed. As mentioned before, these medications also may not be safe for every pet.
The cost of office visits to your veterinarian may be the most expensive aspect of your pet’s treatment for mange. You can expect to pay at least $60-$100 for a physical exam, and another $50-$100 for skin tests. Any more advanced or detailed testing will add to the cost, possibly as much as $100-$200 for each additional test. The lesson from this should be that the sooner you treat the better. A less advanced case of mange will be easier, faster, and less costly to cure.
What Causes Mange?
The most common type of mange, sarcoptic mange, is caused by a small parasitic mite. It burrows beneath the skin and dogs and puppies to feed on them. Sometimes, sarcoptic mange is also known as scabies or zoonotic. This causes the dog or puppy to feel itchy and chew and scratch at his skin to stop the itching sensation. Over time, this will lead to the dog losing his hair in the spots that he is chewing. Most often, this will occur on the legs and belly, but over time, hair loss can occur over the entire body. If you notice that your puppy or dog is itchy all the time, or if he starts to lose hair in the aforementioned places, it's a good idea to take him to the veterinarian as a precaution.
How Long Is Mange Contagious After Treatment?
Mange is extremely contagious and can easily be transferred to other dogs or humans. The mites cannot live comfortably in humans but will still cause itching until they die. Even after treatment, your dog is likely to remain contagious for up to four weeks. This means that you'll need to avoid spending a lot of time with him or letting him be around other pets.
Does Flea Treatment Kill Mange?
Some flea prevention medications have shown to be effective against mange, but not all of them are. Some veterinarians say that they did not have any luck with the brand names Frontline or Revolution. However, Bravecto has been effective at killing scabies mites. If the case is mild, it may be used alone, but stronger cases of mange will need to use the medication in combination with other treatment options.
What Are Other Types of Mange Treatments?
In addition to flea treatments that work, there are several other types of treatments for mange. The most common one is a medicinal bath because it is often the most effective. Before the bath, your dog will need to have his hair clipped shorter. This ensures the treatment reaches all the way to his skin. The bath is not a one-time situation, either. Your pup will need to be bathed in the scabies treatment once a week for up to four weeks. It is important to note that the smell can be toxic to humans and some dogs, which means you should always have this scabies treatment done by a professional.
Another common treatment is liquid ivermectin. Ivermectin is a stronger form of flea and heartworm prevention medication. This is a last resort for most veterinarians and should not be used on herding breeds such as Collies or Shetland sheep dogs. In addition to the scabies treatments, keep in mind that your veterinarian will likely need to prescribe an ointment or cream that helps your dog's skin to heal.
How Long Does Mange Treatment Take?
The time it takes to treat mange depends on the type of treatment you use. However, the average amount of time it takes to treat it is four weeks. During these four weeks, your dog will still be contagious and should be kept away from other dogs, the family's furniture, and children who will not understand not to pet the dog.
How Can You Prevent a Dog From Getting Mange Again?
There are several things that you can do to help your dog avoid getting mange after he's been treated for it the first time. First, consider a preventative medication such as isoxazoline. Your vet can help you determine if this is a good route for your dog based on how much he may be exposed to the disease.
There are things you need to do in your house as well. While mites live on dogs, their eggs can often be found in carpets, dog beds, and even your dog's plush toys. It is very important to thoroughly clean any carpets that your dog as been on and wash any dog beds, toys, blankets, or other bedding that your pet has been on in hot water. Once you wash these items, don't give them back to your pet until he's completed his scabies treatment plan.
Finally, consider where you take your dog. If he loves to traipse through the woods, he could be exposed to scabies due to foxes, which often carry the disease. If you take your dog to dog parks, doggy daycares, or other similar places, ensure they have vaccine rules in place. While a vaccine won't necessary prevent scabies, it does protect your pet's overall health. Additionally, it's more likely that other pet owners are careful about helping their dogs avoid scabies as well.