Mange in dogs is a terrible disease, not only for its painful, itchy symptoms but because of the implied cause. A well cared for dog will typically not get mange, although it's not impossible. The disease, however, is common in strays and dogs who have histories of dealing with abuse.
But a sad beginning doesn't have to lead to a tragic ending. While mange in dogs can have many negative outcomes, including death, it is treatable and manageable that can return a dog's life to normal. The shampoo is part of the treatment program, and that combined with some love, care, and attention, can have a major impact on improving a dog's life.
What Is Mange In Dogs?
While people use mange refer to a wide range of potential skin diseases, there are, in fact, two forms of the disease. The main difference between the two is the type of mite that incites the disease.
Also known as scabies, sarcoptic mange comes from the name of an arachnid with a scientific name of Sarcoptes Scabiei. This form is extremely contagious to dogs. Female mites will dig into the skin, searching for a place to lay their eggs. Once laid, the parasites hatch in less than a month and then begin to snack on the surrounding skin.
Once the feast commences, the infested dog will see symptoms anywhere from a week to two months after initially becoming a host to the egg-laying mite. There are a wide variety of symptoms that aid in diagnosing:
- Additional skin infections
- Extreme weight and hair loss
- Inflammation of the lymph node
- Prolonged and intense itchiness
- Red, irritated marks on the skin
- Thick yellow crusts
- Thick, rock-like skin
Caused by a different, far more common mite, Demodex Canis, demodectic mange attacks puppies or other dogs with suppressed immune systems. This cigar-shape mite is fairly common in the wild. It is visible deep in the hair follicles of many dogs. So, maintaining your dog’s immune system should be a suitable prophylactic.
Demodectic mange, also known as Demodex, can appear either locally or generally on a dog's body. Generalized cases attack the entire body, resulting in crusts, redness, scaling, and swelling. Often the infected dog will lose all of their furs. Localized cases will involve patches of hair loss and reddened skin.
There's also a third, much more resistant version of Demodex. This kind is located solely on the dog's feet and comes with a high potential for bacterial infection. Unlike the other two forms, which are somewhat easier to diagnose, this form will require a biopsy for a veterinarian to be sure as to the cause.
Left to its own devices, mange in dogs can be debilitating, with a high level of discomfort and pain. Luckily, though, treatment for mange is simple, easy, and effective. Make sure to let your vet know about the situation, and they'll most likely recommend a combination of three types of treatment:
- Topical compounds to kill the mites
- A haircut to give the mites less opportunity to hide, as well as provide great access to the skin for topical treatment
- Weekly baths in medicated shampoo
All three are essential for recovery, but your vet will key you on whether the approach should be for all or with a particular focus. Additionally, the vet may require your dog to be in quarantine to prevent further spread. Especially if it has been diagnosed with sarcoptic mange.
The treatments, including the weekly baths, should continue until all signs of mange in dogs have disappeared. To confirm, your vet will most likely also be conducting skin scrapes every two weeks to check for mites. Once two consecutive scrapes produce no sign of mites, treatment can finally stop. Sometimes, though, a vet may recommend a final skin scrap after about a month of discontinued treatment to confirm there's been no reoccurrence.
Even when the vet has already given assurance of the dog's good health, you'll still need to take steps to prevent re-occurrence. The clothes, collars, and beddings will need disinfection or if not usable anymore, thrown out.
Even after the final skin scrape, it's always a good idea to ask your vet to conduct one at your regular visit. Mites can be tricky, so vigilance is necessary to keep them at bay.
You’ll need to communicate the issue to any neighbors or friends whose dogs have interacted with yours. If their immune system is healthy, they will be fine. However, awareness can help defend against an all-out infection.
Similarly, if your neighbors or friends have a dog going through treatment for mange, keep your dog away until theirs has fully recovered. If your dog is part of a playgroup with a dog that has mange, it's best to find alternative accommodations for the meantime.
The Best Shampoos for Mange In Dogs
While your vet will be the one to diagnose your pet, as well as provide and potentially administer the topical ointments to eradicate the mites, most likely you'll be responsible for the weekly medicated shampoo baths. If your vet has a recommendation, don't hesitate to go with that. If they don't, though, here are the best-medicated shampoos currently on the market.
SynergyLabs Medicated Dog Shampoo
The number one veterinarian-recommended mange shampoo by a longshot, SynergyLabs' shampoo offering treats not only mange, but also fleas, lice, and ticks. This product can be on the more expensive side of the medicated shampoo options, but it comes with the knowledge that many veterinary clinics prefer to use this brand more than any other.
Its main ingredients, salicylic acid, coal tar and micronized sulfur, all help to kill the mites and stop the spread of infection. It also contains oatmeal, which helps moisturize skin and hair and keeps them healthy.
This shampoo is strong and effective but not necessarily as floral or effervescent as the human variety or even nonmedicated dog shampoo. It emits a strong chemical odor, not dissimilar to a harsh cleaner. It's also a smell that doesn't necessarily go away quickly. Still, it works, and that matters more than any scent.
Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Dog Shampoo
Focusing specifically on mange in dogs, unlike the effective and multi-use SynergyLabs shampoo, Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Dog Shampoo focuses specifically on mitigating Demodex. Like SynergyLabs, though, this brand can have an unappealing chemical odor. Its strength, though, is its strength, easily killing mites while moisturizing your dog's skin. Still, the instructions require the use of gloves when applying to your pet, as well as recommends avoiding direct contact with the solution.
Because this shampoo also requires it to be left in your dog's fur for up to 10 minutes before eventually washing it out, it's also not the easiest shampoo to apply. You may also find yourself buying bottle after bottle, as a 40-pound dog could go through a third of the bottle in a single use.
Pricewise, this will come in at a slightly cheaper price point than SynergyLabs at most online marketplaces. However, due to the amount used in each wash, it will become the more expensive option in the long run.
Stratford Pharmaceuticals Keto-C Medicated Dog Shampoo
The only preventative shampoo on the list, Stratford Pharmaceuticals Keto-C Medicated Dog Shampoo helps to keep skin and fur clean, moisturized, and healthy. It contains active compounds like ketoconazole and chlorhexidine, which reduce irritation and prevent bacterial infections.
As this shampoo is concentrated, only a small amount is needed with each wash, making it last far longer than the other two reviewed options. This helps, as the individual bottle is the highest priced of the three listed options as well.
Additionally, this shampoo smells decent, although still not quite like a floral or herbal-based shampoo for people. It's advertised as cucumber-melon, and both scents are there, albeit with a tinge of artificiality that's not unlike a cheap candle. Still, that's better than the solvent-like punch that hits as soon as you open the bottles of either Davis or SynergyLabs.
At the end of the day, though, this shampoo is designed only for prevention. Once your dog has received its official diagnosis, you'll need to go with the stronger stuff.
Some Final Thoughts
Mange in dogs is a serious skin disease caused by mites. It can be contagious, and it's painful and uncomfortable for pets who've been diagnosed with it. Untreated, it can ruin a dog's life and potentially cause its death.
However, once diagnosed, mange can be treated quickly and effectively. A medicated shampoo used weekly and under the consultation with your vet, can destroy mites and return your furry friend to health. Once the treatment plan halts and reverses the infection's spread, there are also preventative measures to be taken to lower the odds of reoccurrence and keep your dog healthy.