What are the two important microscopic mange mites which afflict dogs?

April 13, 2012

“Hey kiddo, stay away from that mangy mutt. The mange will rot your skin!” “Poor pooch. Why ever did the owner of this dog allowed this condition to develop. This will never happen to my Poochi.”

Mange can be a curse for the dog. This skin disease mars the appearance of the pet aside from the fact that the dog has to suffer pain and discomfort. Due to some unfounded beliefs this skin disease is dreaded by dog owners. It is commonly believed that the pus that drains from the skin of a mangy dog can make the hair fall out. The oozing pus can also rot human skin. The poor mangy dog is therefore shooed away. A mangy dog is not a pretty picture. The dog would have bald patches of skin on the ears, around the eyes and mouth, on the belly and haunches. These patches of hairless skin will grow in size when the skin condition worsens until the dog’s coat takes on a moth-eaten appearance. Pimples would develop in the infected areas. The patches of dry skin would thicken in texture and develop scaling. This skin condition creates severe itching and pain. In an effort to ease the discomfort the dog will incessantly scratch until the hairless skin becomes infected. No dog owner would ever want to have a mangy dog. After all the appearance of the pet is a reflection on the kind of care the owner gives the pet. Mange though is a contagious disease. The mites that cause this skin condition can be directly passed on by an infected dog to another dog and even to humans.

Mange was derived from the word “mangene” which means itching. This skin condition is caused by eight legged parasites that burrow about two millimeters deep into the skin to feed on the hair follicles and oil glands. Mange is a skin condition caused by several types of mites. Sarcoptes mites and Demodex mites are the two important microscopic mange mites that can cause mange in dogs.

Demodex mites cause demodectic mange. These microscopic mites are not transferred from one dog to another thus demodectic mange is not really a contagious skin condition. Demodectic mange is a condition that is more common in puppies three to ten months of age as the mites are passed on to the puppies by the dam. Most puppies are immune to these mites that are present in the pores of the skin. These mites would not cause itching thus the dog may not show symptoms of infestation. However, a dog with weak immune system would have a negative reaction to the substance produced by these mites. Affected dog can have localized infestation that is characterized by inch sized bald patches of hair. Large balding areas around the eyes and mouth as well as on the legs would be noticed if large numbers of demodex mites live on the dog’s hair follicles and sebaceous glands.

Sarcoptes mites cause a great deal of itching. These mites that cause sarcoptic mange would be difficult to see on the dog’s skin. Female mites that burrow into the dog’s skin to lay eggs cause the disease’s typical intense itching. Infested dogs would bite and scratch the skin ferociously until oozing sores develop. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious to dogs and humans. The mites can be directly transmitted by an infested dog to other pets of the family. Other pets that share living quarters with an infected dog will begin scratching in no time. Sarcoptes mites can be transmitted to humans when the infected dog is petted. The mites’ infestation in humans though is self limiting. Although the mites would burrow into human skin and cause itching, the life cycle cannot be completed thus infestation will be over in a few weeks.

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