Mange is a skin condition caused by a parasite, called an ectoparasite, that invades the skin. In many cases, the parasite has been around during your pet’s entire life.
There are several different types of mange that routinely occur. The differences can be found on the links at the end of the article. Typically, mange affects the skin through hair loss and sometimes excessive scratching. Some types of mange are easily diagnosed by a skin scraping and a look at the debris through a microscope.
Some of the mange mites that cause this problem burrow deep into the skin and do not show up on a skin scraping, but fortunately, there are many new medications that are effective in treating this problem. Unfortunately, some mange cases involve the immune system, and no matter what is used to treat the pet, he or she won’t get better. Luckily, that’s a relatively rare occurrence.
It must be remembered that this disease is diagnosed by a physical exam and a skin scraping. Many skin conditions that are not mange can show similar skin lesions, so to say that a dog looks “mangy” does not necessarily mean it has mange.
The most important thing you can do in regard to prevention is good nutrition, access to fresh water at all times, proper grooming, and plenty of exercise and TLC.