Sarcoptic and demodectic mange have been providing the most amazing before- after rescue stories in animal welfare. Especially sarcoptic mange can make a dog appear so gruesome, that after the treatment, the question “is that the same dog?” is more than common.
What is it really?
It is a mite associated skin disease. Microscopic parasitic mites (invisible to the eye organisms – more related to spiders than insects) are to blame for both, and the disease affects domesticated and wild animals.
Does it affect humans?
What is demodectic mange?
Well, the demodex mites are…always there. There are about 65 species of them, two of which live in humans. They are mainly harmless, but sensitivity to them (or overpopulation) causes the disease known as demodicosis (in humans) and demodectic mange (in dogs). So, basically, the animal (or human) grew sensitive to one of the many parasites living in its body.
Demodex is not contagious, because we can’t get something we already have. Those parasites live in all of us, and one animal’s sensitivity to them cannot be transmitted to others.
If your pet dog is well taken care of and healthy, it is highly unlikely that it will suffer from it. A poor auto immune system is what affects a dog’s ability to keep the mite under control, and this is the main reason why stray dogs are susceptible to it and always will be.
What is sarcoptic mange?
Sarcoptic mange (scabies) is an ugly distant relative of the harmless demodex. It is not supposed to be there, none of us should carry it on our bodies, and it is contagious. The mites mate in the host’s skin, lay their eggs, the eggs hatch, the larvae becomes an adult, it mates too..etc etc..
As those little bastards dig into the skin, they cause intense itching, hair loss and crusting (the “turned to stone effect”). Again, the more fragile a dog’s auto immune system is, the sicker the animal will get. Immune suppression from starvation or any other disease causes this type of mange to develop into a highly crusted form – stray dogs, remember?
Again, if your pet dog is well groomed, well fed and take care of, it is highly unlikely that it will be affected.
Is it curable?
YES IT IS (finally, I get to the point). Mange is 100% curable – a dog receives treatment, it recovers and that’s it. For some reason, people are reluctant to adopt dogs who have suffered from mange, probably due to fear of adopting the parasites that come along with it. But that’s not the case.
In Greece we rescue dogs “turned to stone” from mange every other day. They get to have their 15 minutes of fame once they recover, and we post their jaw dropping before after photos and videos, and then we wait and wait for a phone call than never comes. That’s a shame. It is unfair and it makes me very angry.
Once the dog is cured, the parasite is gone and you are safe. So get over your disgust, and adopt one. Besides, you and I carry millions of those microscopic godzillas in our skin, and as much as you hate to think about it, most of them are supposed to be there. 🙂