Mange and Mites

Chronic mange can be debilitating to an animal. It can cause depression, lethargy, anaemia and hair loss.

Mange is a skin infection caused by tiny parasites (mites). There are two types – Demodectic and Sarcoptic, the later being highly contagious. The most common form is demodectic mange – which is caused by a microscopic mite that lives in hair follicles. The other, sarcoptic mange is caused by a scabies mite that burrows into the skin, making the pet itch, madly!

Demodectic mange appears first as a small, hairless patch with small bumps near the eye, chin or feet. There is little irritation. Small amounts of this mite are normally present in healthy animals, only migrating to the skin when its host’s resistance is low. It can cause minor problems in young dogs, and in odd cases, it continues to spread, eventually covering much of the body and resulting in flaky skin and hair loss. Bacteria can also become established further complicating the situation.

Sarcoptic mange produces severe irritation and as a result continuous scratching. Infestation usually starts at the edge of the ears, the skin around the eyes, elbows, outer
surface of the hind legs, as well as in the armpits, on the abdomen and insides of the thigh. Then spreads across the whole body – usually within a few weeks.

Small red spots (similar looking to flea bites) appear where the mites burrow in the outer layer of skin. The acrid matter they excrete creates the intolerable irritation, causing the dog to constantly scratch. The skin becomes flaky in these red and itchy effected areas where the hair then falls out. It can be spread between dogs and their owners (in humans it is known as Scabies).

Mites are best treated from the inside out:

  • Your dog needs good nutrition, exercise and exposure to natural light.
  • All milk products should be avoided. Along with processed (dried, canned or packaged) foods. A diet of fresh raw meat and bones plus minced vegetable is recommended with added supplements as required.
  • If your pet in on antibiotics, add an acidophilus supplement to their food to help rebuild the friendly flora in their digestive tract.
  • Add garlic to their daily feed. It’s an effective anti-parasitic herb and also aids immune function and healing (don’t overdo it as fresh garlic can irritate the stomach)
  • Especially Vitamin C, but also vitamins A, E and B complex, zinc (found in crushed pepitas) and lecithin are recommended supplements.
  • A wash made from whole lemons, sliced and left overnight to steep in boiled water. Then applied daily with a sponge (gently) will help give relief.
  • It is also advisable to fumigate bedding, coats, collars, leads, grooming equipment, kennels and runs.
  • Homeopathic’s and Flower Remedies can also be effective, under the guidance of a qualified natural animal practitioner.

Rats, Cats and Mice as well as Foxes and Wombats are known carriers of sarcoptic mange, the later making it more common in rural areas.