You see your Pitbull scratching and licking incessantly, and you noticed he’s starting to lose his fur. Could your companion dog possibly have acquired mange? There are plenty of possible conditions that could be attributed to your dog’s skin condition, but as a responsible dog parent, it’s essential to be mindful of “dog mange.”
While usually treatable, mange is a common skin condition infecting dogs. However, it could be contagious and has the potential to be dangerous for your pet’s health. While there are two types of mange – Demodectic and Sarcoptic – both are quite different in their clinical presentation and treatment.
Keep reading to know about mange in Pitbulls and how you can attend to your pet’s skin problem.
What is Dog Mange?
Mange is a painful skin condition caused by the infestation of external microscopic parasites. Any breed of dog is susceptible to the disease, but it is more likely to occur in dogs that spend long periods outdoors with at-risk dogs. This means your pitbull is no exception if he is living in a high-risk environment.
Two basic types of mange infest dogs:
- Demodectic mange
Also known as “red mange” is the most common type of mange and may affect a larger area of your dog’s skin. It is caused by the Demodex canis mite. If not treated instantly, it might lead to a more serious secondary infection, causing unpleasant odor and intense itching.
Demodectic mange typically only affects dogs that are geriatric or sick. It is not contagious and is easily treatable in most cases
- Sarcoptic mange
Also known as “canine scabies” is the contagious type of mange affecting dogs. The causative parasite, Sarcoptic scabies mite, is the same parasite that causes scabies in humans. While this particular mite usually prefers dogs, it can also be transmitted to people in close contact. It is highly contagious and transmissible to other pets and humans.
This mange can leave lesions on your dog’s chest, legs, elbows, and ears. If left untreated, secondary bacterial infections and yeast infections may occur. Pit bulls that are less than 18 months of age are usually at an increased risk of developing this type of mange.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Mange?
Here are signs and symptoms that your pitbull could experience from mange:
- Hair loss
- Sores and lesions
- Rashes and redness
- Extreme itchiness
- Skin lesions that may appear as thick crusts
- Scabby, scaly or crusty skin
- Bacteria and yeasts infections
When pitbulls get mange, it is more noticeable on their skin because of their short coats. Scabs, sores and bald spots are also highly visible in pitbulls than in dogs with longer coats. Most of the time, mange appears first on the tips of a dog’s ear flaps.
Dogs are known to scratch themselves intensely, trying to relieve the itching caused by crusty skin. If your Pitbull gets mange, you may see visible hair loss due to the itchiness and uncomfortable disease. For instance, sarcoptic mange results in extreme itchiness, causing intense scratching and restlessness as your dog tries to relieve his discomfort.
Symptoms of mange appear one week after exposure and then rapidly spread all over the body. Mange is considered localized when it’s only located in certain areas, such as around the eyes or ear flaps. As it spreads to the other regions of the dog’s body, it becomes generalized mange.
How to Diagnose Dog Mange?
Your dog’s veterinarian may perform a series of tests, such as urine and blood tests, to rule out other causes of your dog’s hair loss and itchiness (metabolic disorders or allergies). A thorough examination of your dog’s hair follicles and skin scrapings can help identify mange and eventually identify through several tests which type of mite is the causative agent.
How to Treat Mange for Pitbulls?
If you suspect your dog to suffer from mange, seek consultation immediately and ask for treatment before it spreads. Treatment ultimately depends on what type of mange your dog has acquired.
Treating Demodectic Mange
In most cases, a demodectic mange doesn’t need treatment and naturally disappears after a few days. But in more severe cases, localized demodectic mange may need to be treated with medication in the long-term to monitor its progress.
For severe itching, your veterinarian may advise treating your dog with a lime-sulfur dip. Oral medications and medicated shampoos may also be required to treat secondary infections.
Treating Sarcoptic Mange
Under the direction from your dog’s veterinarian, dogs with sarcoptic mange may need to be repeatedly dipped in scabicidal shampoo, generally once a week for a period of four to six weeks. Take note that this medicated shampoo cannot be bought over the counter and needs your veterinarian’s prescription. The veterinarian may also advise you on how you can help strengthen your pet’s immune system to decrease his susceptibility to the disease.
How to Prevent Mange?
As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial that you educate yourself about this skin disease to prevent the recurrence of the maddening parasites. Once you get home and allow your pet to wander around the house, make sure to clean and disinfect first all of his beddings, toys, and anything that could have been infected by the mites causing mange.
Also, check other pets in your home that could have come in close contact with your dog and treat if necessary. Your dog’s veterinarian may conduct a house visit to recheck your pitbull’s mange problem and see if all mites have been completely eliminated.
Mange may just be a common skin condition among dogs, but that doesn’t mean it is something that should be taken lightly. Besides the potential of infecting other animals and even humans, it’s essential to know that mange typically doesn’t affect a healthy dog with a strong immune system. Remember to always consult your dog’s veterinarian when deciding what’s best for your dog’s condition.
Help your pitbull regain his glossy coat again with immediate treatment. Making a prompt action to treat your dog’s mange might be the first step that leads to the treatment of a more severe underlying condition – it could even end up saving your precious furry friend’s life.