Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mange and Motor Oil

What is mange? Mange is a chronic skin disease caused by parasitic mites and characterized by skin lesions, itching, and loss of hair.

What kind of mites cause mange in dogs? Demodex canis, Demodex gatoi, Demodex injai and Sarcoptes scabei. All dogs have Demodex mites on their skin but a normal, healthy immune system provides resistance to infection or disease. Dogs with genetically and/or environmentally compromised immune systems offer less resistance to active mite populations which can create ideal conditions for infection and disease to thrive.

Is mange contagious?
Mange caused by Demodex mites IS NOT contagious to other dogs or humans. Mange caused by Sarcoptes mites IS contagious to other dogs and humans, though the mites don't survive long on human skin.

How do I know if my dog has mange?
Loss of hair, itchiness, skin lesions and secondary infection are all symptoms of mange. A skin scraping by a licensed veterinarian is the best way to determine if a dog has mange. Note, however, that mites may or may not always show up in skin scrapings so several scrapings several weeks apart may be necessary.

What's the best treatment for mange?
Treatment for mange should be overseen by a licensed veterinarian. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to fight off secondary infection caused by excessive scratching. To boost the dog's immune system, the dog should be fed a premium diet with human-grade ingredients. Stress to the dog should be minimized.

Antiparasitics commonly used to treat Sarcoptic mange include Ivermectin and Selamectin (Revolution®).* Ivermectin may be injected or given orally. Selamectin is applied topically and is absorbed into the body and circulates through the blood stream.

Weekly Amitraz (Mitaban) dips preceded by a benzoyl peroxide baths to open the hair follicles are still commonly prescribed as a treatment for Demodex. Oral or injected Ivermectin, however, is the latest treatment of choice for generalized Demodex.

Why do some people use motor oil?
Misinformation abounds and some folks are willing to try
untested 'home remedies' that result in making the dog miserable and can kill the dog. Motor oil adds to the dogs discomfort by causing rashes on the skin and increases the dog's susceptibility to infection. Dogs absorb hydrocarbons from the oil through the skin and may lick the motor oil; injestion can result in kidney and/or liver damage.

Please don't dip your dog in motor oil.

*Ivermectin is known to be harmful to herding breeds including, but not limited to, Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs and mixes of these breeds.

References: Mar Vista Animal Medical Center - marvistavet.comPet Place - petplace.com

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