Fox Mange

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What is it?

Mange is a serious skin condition, caused by a burrowing mite. It is one of the itchiest skin diseases known, and dogs will often injure themselves trying to scratch it; in addition, the mites are very contagious!

What causes it?

A variety of burrowing mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. This digs into the skin and munches its way through the top layers, causing severe itching. It can easily be transmitted between dogs, cats, foxes and many other animals - and can also infect humans (we call it Scabies if it infects us!). It's called Fox Mange because most cases are associated with dogs rolling in places foxes have been - the fox having left a few mites behind it.

What dogs are at risk?

Any dog who comes into contact (directly or indirectly) with an infected animal.

What are the symptoms?

Severe itching, followed by a "bumpy" rash. It usually affects the margins of the ears first, but can be anywhere on the dog's body. The itching is so severe, dogs will often injure themselves trying to scratch, and lose their hair, so it isn't uncommon to see a dog who is largely bald in patches, with an inflamed rash and cuts or scrapes from itching.

How is it diagnosed?

Skin scrapes let vets collect part of the upper layers of the skin and look at them through the microscope; hopefully, we'll see some mites there! However, because it's so itchy, sometimes there are very few mites to find, so we will often treat a suspicious case even if we can't confirm the diagnosis.

How can it be treated or managed?

There are a range of prescription spot-on medications and medicated washes (again, prescription only) that rapidly kill the mites. They do not, however, kill the eggs, so usually have to be repeated in 3-4 weeks to break the life-cycle.

Can it be prevented?

Not entirely - however, regular treatment with a suitable anti-mite product (which will also do fleas and often worms too!) will prevent an infection becoming severe.