What is mange and do I have to put my dog to sleep?

Our question this week was:

What is Mange? Is there such a thing as incognito mange and is it treatable? My Vet will be testing my dog on Sat for this and she said that if it is the untreatable mange than I should think about getting a new Dog, do they need to be put down because of this? All along she was treating him for allergies. How heartless is that…I am so upset I don't know what to think. Please I would love to hear your opinion on Mange.

Thank you,

Debra DeSantis


Hi – thanks for your email. I'm sorry to hear your dog has mange. I'm guessing he has demodectic mange, demodicosis or red mange. An article that might be helpful to you is Demodicosis or Red Mange in Dogs. This article discusses causes, diagnosis and treatment of mange in dogs.

In answer to your question, I'll give you some information from our article.

Demodicosis, or red mange, is a common skin disease of dogs caused by a microscopic mite called demodex canis. These mites are part of the normal flora of the skin, and are present in small numbers, so the disease is not contagious. In predisposed individuals the mites increase in number causing clinical disease.

Why some dogs develop demodicosis and others don't is not understood. It is thought to be genetic; affected dogs have an immune system defect that may be inherited, making it difficult to keep the mites under control.

There are different forms of this disease: localized and generalized.

The facts that mange is probably genetic and/or an immune system problem is probably why your vet was pessimistic. Mange can be difficult to treat and dogs with this condition should not be bred. If you have a dog you want for breeding– you may want to consider a different dog.

If you want a pet – you can work with trying to treat this disease. The other frustrating problem with manage is that it can get expensive to treat. It isn't a one shot treatment. Treatment generally consists of clipping hair, repeated dips and systemic medications.

I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. Read the article and see what you think.

Also, if you aren't happy with your vet – get a second opinion!

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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