Goals of Treating Mange
The goals of treating canine mange are to completely eliminate the mites that are causing the dog’s condition and restore the animal to a good, comfortable quality of life. Because most types of mange are highly contagious, all mites must be eradicated not only from the skin and coat of the affected dog and other household pets, but also from the dog’s immediate living environment.
There are quite a few treatment options for dogs with mange. Which one to choose depends on which type of mite is causing the dog’s problem. Any treatment for mites should be done strictly under a veterinarian’s supervision. Most therapeutic protocols start with some sort of topical treatment that involves repeated applications of medicated shampoos, rinses and/or dips. The veterinarian may suggest clipping the dog’s coat either all over or only in affected areas, so that topical treatments are as effective as they possibly can be. It is important to get the mite-killing medication right down to the skin and into the hair follicles. Depending on the nature and extent of the dog’s infestation, medicated dips and other topical treatments may need to be administered for weeks or even months, at appropriate veterinarian-recommended intervals. It can take quite a long time for the symptoms of mange to resolve, even with repeated baths and dippings. The vet may prescribe oral antibiotics to be given concurrently with topical treatments, especially if the dog suffers from secondary bacterial skin infections. Sometimes, when the patient is extremely itchy (pruritic), the veterinarian also will suggest short-term treatment with oral corticosteroids.
All pet mammals in the home should be treated as if they have the same mange mite infestation, regardless of whether they are showing any noticeable signs. Bedding, carpeting, furniture and grooming supplies should also be treated, preferable by pest control professionals. The veterinarian can recommend the best products and providers to use. Some breeds, including Australian Shepherds, Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, are extremely sensitive to Ivermectin, which is one of the medications that can be used to treat mange. These breeds need special attention and probably should not be on an oral or topical Ivermectin protocol.
Some people try “old-time” remedies to treat mange. Some of these so-called treatments include rubbing motor oil or vegetable oil onto the dog’s coat and skin, applying a light coat of gasoline or bathing the dog repeatedly. These “remedies” are ineffective and can physically damage the dog’s skin. Motor oil and gasoline are highly irritating to skin and can create raw sites ripe for secondary infection. Vegetable oil and repeated baths can also exacerbate skin irritation.
The outlook for dogs with mange is generally quite good, as long as the underlying mite is identified and treatment regimens are rigorously followed. A missed dose or incomplete follow-up can quickly lead to mite re-infestation and recurrence of the dog’s symptoms. Fortunately, timely diagnosis and treatment should stop the spread of these nasty parasites and relieve the dog from the pain and intense itchiness that they cause.