The two major types of mange—Demodectic and Sarcoptic — are caused by mites. Otodectic or ear mange is also caused by mites, although the actual skin condition in this type of mange results more from decomposing secretions and the constant rubbing and scratching by the irritated dog.

Demodectic mange

The mite responsible for Demodectic mange is called Demodex folliculorum. It burrows into the skin and causes inflammation and mild irritation. There are two forms of Demodectic mange: 1) the squamous form, in which there is a mild inflammation and loss of hair, and 2) the pustular form, in which the dog's skin becomes very red with a bloody discharge.

Demodectic mange is characterized by shedding of the hair, a reddening of the affected skin parts, thickened and wrinkled skin, denuded areas around the eyes, elbows, hocks and toes, and bloody or scabby lesions. Unlike Sarcoptic mange, there may be little or no itching. Very often the lesions in Demodectic mange are localized to one area and do not spread to other parts of the body. The squamous form of Demodectic mange is often confused with other skin conditions or diseases. The only positive method of diagnosis is to have the veterinarian take some skin scrapings and examine them under the microscope for the Demodex folliculorum mites.

Treatment: Demodectic mange is very persistent and should receive veterinary attention. The squamous form responds to treatment much quicker than the pustular form. Also, if the mange is localized, treatment will be more effective. However, you will have to keep in mind that some dogs do not respond to treatment as readily as others. And some cases of Demodectic mange will recur. Treatment usually consists of clipping the dog and washing the skin with a germicidal solution. Next, the affected parts are treated with special mange preparations to kill the mange mites. A good diet is essential during treatment.

You can provide some emergency treatment by clipping the hair around the affected areas, washing them with mild soap and water, and applying a sulphur and cold-cream ointment. Flowers of sulphur is usually available in drugstores.

Sarcoptic mange

Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite belonging to the genus Sarcoptes. We don't expect you to be able to differentiate between these mites, but a knowledge of them and their damage will help you to understand the treatment and course of the condition. Sarcoptic mange often starts on the dog's head, but it may also show up on the lower abdomen, chest, under the front legs, at the root of the tail, and at the base of the ears.

The symptoms of Sarcoptic mange include itching, red dots or blisters, a discharge, scabs and crusts, loss of hair, and a moldy or musty odor. A positive diagnosis can only be made by an examination of a skin scraping under a microscope for the Sarcoptic mange mite.

Treatment: Neglected cases of Sarcoptic mange have proved fatal. So, prompt veterinary attention is vital. The treatment more or less follows that for Demodectic mange. You can give the dog temporary relief by applying a sulphur and cold-cream ointment, but put the dog under the veterinarian's care.

Otodectic or ear mange

The mites causing Otodectic or ear mange live inside the ears. They are often visible to the naked eye as small specks that move. If untreated, ear mange can lead to severe complications.

The symptoms include a tilted head, pawing at the ears, whining or whimpering, poor balance, an ear discharge with a foul odor, and the presence o£ the mites themselves. Some of these symptoms are also indicative of ear canker and hematoma. (See Chapter 13)

Ear mites require veterinary attention. You can ease the dog's misery by cleaning the ears with mineral or baby oil on cotton swabs.

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