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Posts Tagged ‘dog licking feet’

PostHeaderIcon Demodectic Mange In Dogs l Allergies Or Mange?

Just the word Mange has pet owners running for cover. I think most people including me were not aware that there are two types of mange. Demodectic Mange and Sarcoptic Mange. Sarcoptic Mange is highly contagious and can be passed between dogs and humans. I want only to talk about demodectic mange since that has been my experience with my dog.  While it is not contagious it was a long and arduous problem to treat.

Precious, my 14 year Pomeranian who has had many problems with congestive heart failure and coughing, developed what started out as hair loss on her back legs.  She was constantly licking her legs so the vet decided it must be allergies. I had to agree that’s what I thought it might be also since her eyes were frequently watering. Her course of treatment was a steroid shot and we returned home.

In no time we were back at the vet’s, the shot changed nothing and in fact almost overnight her front and back legs were starting to look bare. She was constantly licking them.  I also noticed she was rubbing her face on her blanket a lot. It really did look  like she had some allergies.  I racked my brain trying to think if I changed soaps or fed her anything different.  He still thought it was allergies and continued to treat her with predisone pills.

One day I noticed her nose looked a lot like she had fever blisters around it. By the time we went back to the vet for the third time, I think he knew it was not allergies. To get an accurate diagnoses he suggested we do a skin scraping. The results were she had  demodectic mange.

It was then I learned that Demodectic Mange is a condition that is caused by an overgrowth of Demodex canis mites within the hair follicles of the dog’s coat. What I was shocked to discover is that these mites live on ALL dogs!  That’s right all dogs. It seems dogs have a natural resistance (a healthy immune system) that keeps the number of mites down. Steroids actually depress your immune system which most likely only accelerated her condition at first.

Demodectic Mange – Health Problems To Test For

I learned that dogs who develop this severe condition of mange usually are suffering from a more serious underlying  immune disorder.  So all dogs who develop Demodectic Mange should be tested for underlying ailments such as cancer, thyroid issues or Cushing’s disease.

He tested Precious and determined that she had low thyroid disease. She was given thyroid medicine and Ivermectin a strong medicine to kill the mites. She had to take the medicine for several weeks before she recovered.

Demodectic Mange And Constant Itching

While demodectic mange is not suppose to itch as much as sarcoptic mange it still caused my dog to lick and bite her feet constantly.  She had no hair left on any of her feet.  She developed circles around her eyes which were red, this most likely being the reason demodectic mange is also called red mange.  I guess the mites like to congregate around eyes. This was probably the reason she also developed an eye infection for which she was prescribed eye drops.  She was truly a pathetic sight to see.

By this time all four of her legs were devoid of hair.  If her hair was ever going to grow back I had to do something creative. I found the idea online to buy some baby socks and sew them to a piece of elastic that goes around her back so they would stay up. She had four socks on at all times.

It wasn’t a perfect solution, for every time  I would turn around one of her socks came off.  I tried a rubber band to hold them up and I don’t recommend it.  I put it on too tight once and cut off her circulation. Luckily I discovered it before there was any damage. Her poor hairless leg was twice the size as normal.

Different Forms Of Treatment For Demodectic Mange

The only FDA-approved drug for  demodectic mange is Mitaban which is extremely toxic so my vet suggested we use Ivermectin. After learning that Mitaban dip is only effective in 75 to 80 % of demodectic mange cases  and the many side effects of the drug which include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Wobbly gait
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
I decided that Ivermectin was a better choice for my dog’s mange. Even though it also had side effects I think it was the lesser of two evils.
After several weeks on Ivermectin my veterinarian had to do another skin scraping to make sure the mites were dead. After that she had to continue on the medicine a little longer.
Eventually her hair grew back and she was good as new.  Although I think it’s important to mention before she developed demodectic mange she started having an occasional seizure. It was rare and since she had other issues I didn’t give it much thought. But once we started her on her thyroid medicine she was seizure free. It seems seizures can be the result of low thyroid also.
Since her compromised immune system as a result of low thyroid was the reason demodectic mange developed in the first place, be sure to discuss any seizures your dog has with your veterinarian.

If your pet is experiencing any hair loss,  it’s important to take them to a veterinarian so they can do the proper blood work or skin scraping  needed to diagnose their condition whether it’s demodectic mange or simply allergies.