Dog Help Network Provides Tips on Diagnosing Mange in Dogs This Spring

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Learn how to identify the different types of mange in dogs, as early detection and immediate action can make a huge difference in dog health.

Mange in Dogs this Spring

Mange in Dogs this Spring

With the early signs of spring showing, more and more people are taking their dogs down to the dog park to enjoy the warm weather. This is also the time of year to be aware of the ticks and mites that can result in mange in dogs. Being able to properly diagnose the first signs of this disease can help you take early action.

Canine mange is an all-inclusive term that is used to describe many different species. Each species has its own unique qualities, symptoms, signs and methods for diagnosis, although some are similar. Certain species of mites can inhabit a dog’s skin without causing any problems at all, but if their numbers increase to a level above normal, any mite can begin to cause problems.

Demodectic Mange

There are many names for this type of mange. It may be called red mange, follicular mange and puppy mange. It can be called puppy mange because it occurs in high numbers in younger dogs. Most often this type of mange will infect a dog with an underdeveloped immune system and has nothing to do with the dog’s environment.

Diagnosing Demodectic Mange

Vets will take a skin sample by scraping the skin or performing a biopsy. Since they cannot be seen with the naked eye they must be inspected under a microscope. They are known to look like tiny alligators. The presence of these mites is not enough to confirm a diagnosis of mange, because they live in all dogs. There must be other symptoms, such as hair loss, itching and other symptoms present for demodectic mange.

Sarcoptic Mange

When a dog is infected with this type of mange, the symptoms can vary greatly, but it is most often accompanied by an intense itching. If it is caught in a timely manner, it can be prevented from spreading throughout the entire dog.

Diagnosing Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange in dogs is particularly difficult to diagnose with a skin scraping, because only 20% of dogs will show the presence of mites on a random patch of skin. If the owner gets lucky, the vet will find a mite present on the scraping the first time.

Diagnosis usually involves the process of elimination. Sarcoptic mange can be mistaken for allergic reactions, so vets may try allergy medication at first and monitor the results. If there is no improvement over time, they will move on to sarcoptic dog mange treatment even if the skin sample showed no presence of mites. If the conditions improve over time, they will deduce a diagnosis of mange.


This disease may sometimes be referred to as ‘walking dandruff.’ This is because these mites create scaling on the skin and move beneath the scales. This type of mange in dogs is highly contagious, which makes it important to prevent the spread by keeping an infected dog away from other animals.

Diagnosing Chyletelliosis

Under a magnifying glass a vet can determine if this mite is present. This unique, six-legged mite is easily identified using this method.

Ododectic Mange

This type of mange affects a dog’s ears. They live on the dead and dying skin cells on the inner and outer canals of the ears, and can also be found in the hair around the dog’s head and neck.

Diagnosing Ododectic Mange

Vets will take a skin scraping and put it under a microscope to identify the mange. Along with other factors like previous diagnoses, environment and symptoms, this can improve the correct diagnosis so appropriate treatment can be administered.


These mites often infect the animal and then leave once they have fed to continue their life cycle into adulthood. They can still cause some irritating damage to a dog in their short time. They will remain for several days and feed on the skin leaving red welts.

Diagnosing Trombiculiasis

Like most other types of mange in dogs, a skin sample can be identified by being placed under a microscope and searching for the mites. Because of their red color, they can sometimes be seen with naked eye, preventing the need for a skin scraping, but this is not very common.

The Next Step

With the potential for a misdiagnosis of mange, it is essential to get an accurate diagnosis of the species. Medications that have been administered to dogs can have adverse side effects, and there are natural treatments available that can be easier on the dog’s skin. Getting a proper diagnosis of canine mange is important because some species of mange have the potential to cause serious health issues and, in some cases, death.

Every dog owner should take the time to learn exactly what mange is and what it looks like. If dogs could read, they would likely be doing it themselves. Be sure to watch out for these canine mange symptoms as the weather gets warmer and remember that taking early action can make a world of difference in your dogs health.

Chris Onyett is a designer and a passionate writer on promoting dog health. He created the Dog Help Network after an experience with his own dog, Kupo. He learned that doing proper research and learning from others’ experiences can be just as important as taking a veterinarian’s advice. Connect with Chris on Google+.

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