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Does My Dog or Cat Have Mange?

By Species, By Topic, Care & Wellness, Cats, Dogs, Parasites

People throw the word “mange” around to describe a wide range of skin conditions in animals. However, from a strictly medical standpoint, mange is a parasitic skin condition caused by microscopic mites. It’s important to make a distinction between different types of skin conditions because they each need different treatments.

In fact, there are two different types of mange! Each requires different treatments. The first type is caused by mites that live on the skin itself. The second type, which is much more common, is the so-called “red mange,” which is caused by mites that live inside an animal’s hair follicles.

Red mange is also called demodectic mange. When a dog gets red mange, the first obvious sign is hair loss. Often, it is localized to one or two areas, but it can also occur all over. If the hairless areas become secondarily infected with either a bacteria or skin yeast, the skin will turn more red and inflamed. Hence the term, “red mange.” Many times, when dogs are presented with this type of mange, there are also secondary and concurrent skin conditions that must be addressed at the same time.

It happens most often in dogs younger than 18 months old because their immune systems are immature. See, the mites don’t cause mange directly. Rather, their bites cause inflammation. In an immature immune system, combined with a rapid proliferation of mites, the inflammation gets out of hand and causes a nasty red rash. Occasionally older dogs develop red mange, too. In addition, other diseases can lead to mange as well. It is important to note that this particular type of mange mite is not contagious to your other pets or humans. In fact, like it or not, you probably have this mite already living in and on your skin! Most dogs will also live their entire lives with this mite on them and never have any clinical problem.

Treatment will depend on several factors, including the dog’s age, whether the condition is localized or generalized, and whether there are secondary problems associated with the mange. Typically, the generalized form will require a combination of special shampoos, dips, and oral medication. Remember, since part of this problem is a defective immune system in the dog, some treatments may take a long time.

If your cat or dog is scratching, shows hair loss, or has red, exposed patches of skin, call CEDARCREST Animal Clinic at 540-943-7577 and we’ll help you clear things up.


CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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