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Ditch the Itch!

Categories: Cats, Dogs

A lot of people have used the phrase “That mangy dog!” but little know where it actually comes from. Today’s the day we find out!

A dogs’ itch can be caused by many different things; the 2 most common are allergies, environmental or food related, and external parasites. The focus of this post will be on the external parasite known as demodex mites. Demodex mites are harmless residents on the skin that live inside the hair follicle. They only cause problems when they become overpopulated and the animals’ immune system cannot keep up.  An overpopulation of demodex mites is referred to as Demodectic Mange or “Red Mange”. 

Puppies with poorly developed immune systems and older dogs with weakened immune systems from illness or stress are at a much higher risk of getting mange. The mites will cause the pet to be very itchy, have patches of hair loss with red and crusty skin. These patches usually first form around the eyes and muzzle, and, if left untreated, may eventually spread to the rest of the body.

To discern that demodex is the culprit in these situations, a veterinarian will take a skin scraping and use a microscope to confirm the presence of the mite. A skin scraping is a method in which a scalpel is used to gently scrape along the top layer of the skin collecting a small sample of skin cells. The area may be a little red afterwards but it does not do them any harm.

There are a few treatments options that are available for dogs suffering from mange. A veterinarian will recommend the most effect oral and topical medicines available. They will be given a special shampoo, usually referred to as a ‘dip’, which would need to be used once a week for about 4-6 weeks. They would also receive daily oral doses to help kill off the overpopulated mites.

The underlying cause of a weakened immune system would also need to be treated in order to be sure the mites do not overpopulate again. Another way to keep those pesty guys under control is to use Revolution once a month. It’s a product that goes directly onto the skin at the base of the neck and it helps protect against mites, as well as fleas, ticks and roundworms.

Once the pup is mite-free, there are supplements that can be given to help promote the hair regrowth and get them looking their best again. If the dog stays healthy and is given its’ monthly dose of Revolution, it’ll be smooth sailing from here.

Until next time,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     CAH Team

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