Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Demodectic mange is caused by demodex canis, a mite that cannot be seen without a microscope. It is commonly present in the pores of a puppy's skin and usually does not cause symptoms. Occasionally the mites become very active, producing a substance that lowers the dog's resistance to them, and multiply profusely. Demodectic mange symptoms include thinning of the hair around the eyes and mouth and on the front legs. The mange may correct itself within three months. However, it can also develop into a generalized case with hair loss on the dog's head, legs and body.

Cheyletiella mange is commonly known as "walking dandruff." It also affects puppies and is caused by a large, reddish mite that can be seen under a magnifying glass.

Cheyletiella mange is highly contagious but short-lived. It causes mild itching. The mite that causes the mange dies a short time after leaving the host.

The worse of the three varieties is sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies. It is caused by a microscopic mite and is present in wild animal populations. It has been reported in a wide range of mammals - including red and grey foxes, coyotes, wolves, porcupines, black bear, cottontail rabbits, raccoons, skunks and groundhogs. Notoedric mange is a variation and infects the eastern fox squirrel and the gray squirrel. When cases of mange are high, entire populations can die off. Fox and squirrels are two of the most susceptible to this.

The intense itching of sarcoptic mange is caused by the female mites as they burrow under the host's skin to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch in a few days, develop into adults and begin laying their own eggs when they mature three weeks later. Animals with sarcoptic mange scratch and bite at themselves with great ferocity, usually resulting in oozing sores and secondary infections.

Sarcoptic mange is contagious to both domestic dogs and humans. Pet owners need to keep their pets under supervision when out in the woods.

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