How Does A Dog Get Mange? 0

Magnified mange mite that causes mange in dogs

Magnified mange mite that causes mange in dogs
Photo by JoelMills

Mange is a problem that can infect anyone’s dog, but it is much worse when it infects yours. These little mites infest the poor canine and lead to itching and patches of hairless skin that can become infected and cause even more serious problems.

Knowing which kind of mange your dog might have, how they might have gotten it, and whether it is likely to spread to you or other pets is an important first step in treating mange in dogs. So, how does a dog get mange of any type?

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange is the canine version of scabies. These parasites invade the skin of your dog and lay eggs, which hatch and eventually infest your dog from head to toe.

Being in contact with other infected animals is only one way for your dog to catch this disease. The mites can live for several days off of a host, so even if your dog just visits an area where an infected animal was, they can catch it.

Sarcoptic mange is contagious to humans and other animals, though they prefer dogs and will not live very long on a different creature. Off the host, they live about 2-6 days. If a person becomes infected, they may experience itching, but only for a short while until the mites die.

Demodectic Mange

Also known as “red mange”, these tiny mites are transferred from mother to puppy during the first few days of a dog’s life. In most cases they present no problems, but if the dog proves to have a weakened immune system, then the mites will breed to overpopulation and become an infestation. Older dogs with weakened or stressed immune systems can also become susceptible to the demodectic mite.

Demodectic scabies can be fatal if left untreated due to toxic buildup of bacterial infections. This type of mange is not contagious to other species of animals. Each mite is host specific, so those mites that prefer dogs will not attack other types of animals (i.e. your cat is safe).

Cheyletiella Mange

These are basically larger versions of sarcoptic mange. Also known as “walking dandruff” and they can be caught from other animals and infested areas where animals have dropped them off. They generally can live off of a host for about 10 days. Dogs with sufficiently strong immune systems will not become affected by Cheyletiella mange.

Cheyletiella mange is highly contagious to other animals and humans. To humans, the mites can not reproduce or live for very long. They may appear as an itchy and red area, but this will eventually go away. Other animals are not so lucky, however, and need to get treated.

Steps To Take To Keep From Getting Mange

The best way to avoid all forms of these parasites is to keep your dog’s immune system strong enough to fight the parasites off. Keeping him or her away from places where other dogs congregate will reduce the chances of infestation. If all else fails and your dog becomes infected, get it checked out immediately. The longer mange persists, the more miserable and less healthy your dog will become.

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