The 2 Forms of Red Mange

Red mange, known to the medical community as demodectic pododermatitis or demodectic mange, is a skin disease that afflicts a significant percentage of dogs over the course of their lifetime. Demodicosis is a condition that is caused by a skin mite called demodex canis. Although these mites occur naturally on the skin of all dogs, certain animals are unable to control their populations. When this is the case, red mange occurs.

There are two primary types of red mange: localized and generalized. The classification depends upon the severity and scope of the disease.

Localized Red Mange

Localized red mange occurs most frequently in dogs that are juvenile. Puppies may contract localized red mange when otherwise healthy. In fact, most dogs that develop localized mange have no other underlying health conditions and experience mange following a common sickness or weakening of the immune system.

Localized mange is characterized by the following common symptoms:

  • Thinning of the hair, though only in localized areas around the front of the body
  • Skin irritation around areas of hair loss

The vast majority of dogs with localized mange will recover with the aid of antibacterial shampoos and ointments. However, about 1 in 10 dogs with localized mange will experience a worsening of symptoms and may develop the generalized form of the disease.

Generalized Red Mange

Generalized red mange is classified as either juvenile- or adult-onset, depending on the breed and age of your dog when he develops the condition. Because juvenile dogs have developing immune systems, juvenile-onset red mange will often clear up in the same way that localized mange will.

Adult-onset mange requires additional treatment. Animals that develop adult-onset generalized mange typically have a genetic predisposition to the condition, or have suffered a traumatic compromising of their immune system.

Although generalized mange is an unsightly and uncomfortable disease, the serious health concern is typically the underlying medical condition that predisposed your dog to mange in the first place. Cancer, metabolic defects or disease and other serious conditions contribute to the development of generalized mange in adult dogs. For this reason, if your dog displays any of the symptoms of mange, and particularly if he is of mature age, it's crucial to have him examined by a veterinarian.

Diagnosing and Treating Red Mange

Mange diagnosis requires a series of skin tests. Veterinarians will schedule several skin scrapings, during which they will take a small sample of skin from an affected area on your dog's body and analyze it for mites and other signs of disease. This process may make some dogs uncomfortable, but it's not a painful procedure.

Treatment of generalized mange is more complicated than that of the localized variant, and often requires prescription anti-mite baths and lotions. Follow all veterinary and manufacturer directions in administering your dog anti-mite drugs and baths, as these products may be harmful if used incorrectly.

Mange is a common condition among dogs, and is one that is also easily treatable. However, mange may act as a symptom of an underlying health condition that compromises your dog's immune system. If your dog displays signs of mange, have him examined by a vet immediately.