Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Mange is this horrible, yucky stuff that happens to your skin, and it makes you feel all miserable and itchy.  And if you get it really bad, your hair falls out, and then you look ugly, too.  I am very happy to say I have never had mange, and none of my brothers have had it either.  And we hope to keep things that way!

There are two different kinds of mange, and one is called demodectic mange, and the other one is called sarcoptic mange.  They are both caused by these tiny little things called mites, which are related to ticks, but they are way smaller.

Demodectic mange has a fancy name, which is demodicosis, and another name, which is red mange.  But a lot of people call it "demodex" because the mite that causes it is named Demodex canis.   And the funny thing about this mite is that all dogs have it.  But sometimes there is a dog whose immune system can't cope with the mites, so the dog ends up getting mange.  This happens more often with puppies than with older dogs because puppies don't have good immune systems yet.  And sometimes the demodex will just go away all by itself as the puppies get older.

Demodex mite
But some adult dogs get demodectic mange, too, especially if they live in bad conditions, or don't get enough good food to eat, or they have a lot of stress or something like that.  Plus some breeds are more likely to get this kind of mange, such as boxers, dobermans, pit bulls, shar-peis, bull terriers, huskies, German shepherds, rottweilers, and dogs that are mixes of these breeds.

Dogs who just have a mild case of demodex will mostly only get a few patches of irritated skin and hair loss, but if they have a bad case, they might lose most of their hair, plus their skin could get all red and infected with bacteria.  This kind of mange is not contagious, so a dog who has it can still be around other dogs.

Cats can also get demodectic mange, but they have their very own mites that cause it.  And also other kinds of mammals can get it, too, like foxes or camels or mountain lions.  And every animal has its own demodex mite.  Isn't that special?  Ha!

Anyway, the treatment for demodectic mange is with medicated shampoos, which means a dog has to get a lot of baths, and that's another reason I would never want to get demodex!  Also if there is a bacterial infection, the dog has to take antibiotics.  And sometimes the dog gets ivermectin pills, but this drug is not really licensed to be used in this way.

A fox with mange
So now I'll tell you about the other kind of mange, which is called sarcoptic mange or canine scabies.  It is caused by a mite that burrows into your skin, and the name of this mite is Sarcoptes scabiei canis.  This kind of mange is really, really itchy -- like, way itchier than demodex.  So of course, if you have it, you want to scratch all the time, and that makes you get a bacterial infection.  Oh, and sarcoptic mange is very easy to catch from another dog, so if you get it, you have to go live all by yourself, and nobody can play with your toys or sleep on your bed except you.

Sarcoptes mite
Sarcoptic mange is also treated with a bunch of watery rinses and drips and stuff that I wouldn't want to put up with, personally.  Besides which, it's no fun to be itchy all the time.  So this is another kind of mange I am definitely planning to avoid!

At the shelter where Mom volunteers, they often get dogs with demodex, and sometimes these dogs are mostly bald.  But then the dogs get lots of medicated baths and antibiotics, and after a while their hair grows back, and then they look like regular dogs again.  Except sometimes they have a few scars left.

Anyway, at the last satellite adoption, Mom was holding a dog who used to have demodex, and when she told people that this dog had had mange, several people said, "What's mange?"  And Mom was shocked because she thought everybody in the whole world had heard of mange.  So that's why she said I should write in my blog about mange, so that everybody who reads it will learn a little bit about it.  So that's why I wrote about this very icky topic, and next time I plan to write about something more pleasant!


  1. I have dogs and didn't know there were 2 kinds of mange. Thank you for writing about it.

  2. Can you please update your blog on demodex mites.....There is a cat in our neighborhood that has ears that look like that.

    1. Any information I would add to the blog regarding demodex mites could be found by googling the topic. I don't really have time to do the research myself right now, but if you want to know more, I'm sure the information is out there. Thanks for reading my blog!

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