What are mites, mange and maggots in dogs?
Mites, Mange and Maggots are all skin-related parasites that can be very problematic for both dogs and their owners. Learning to recognize the signs of these parasites, and their treatment, is key to a healthier pet!
Mites, are an insect that burrow into the hair follicles as well as outer layers of the skin, making their home feeding and reproducing there. The two most common types of mite, Sarcopties and Demodex, are the most responsible for mange-related diseases and skin conditions in pets. They can cause a number of symptoms ranging from small patches of hair loss, to larger patches of hair loss, scabbing, redness and sores all over the body. The mites make pets very itchy, so dogs may scratch, bite or chew at affected areas, leading to more damage, and more ability for the mites to spread.
Maggots are the larvae of a flies, however they may also include botfly larvae when your veterinarian talks about them. These insect larvae are laid as eggs in areas of open wounds or other breaks in the skin on a pet’s body, including infected folds, infected wounds or other orifices. The larvae then hatch and begin to feed on infected and dying tissue, leading to bad smell, more infection and an infestation of itchy, bothersome insects.
How can I prevent external parasites such as mites, mange and maggots?
Mites and Mange can be difficult to prevent, especially if there is an underlying skin condition or immune system problem allowing for pets to get sick. However, examining your dog often for signs of any skin issues such as hair loss, redness or itch can alert you to the early signs of illness, making treatment go much more quickly.
Maggots can often be prevented by keeping any open wounds or infections clean, treated and covered as needed. Pets that are elderly or kept indoors should be brought inside if an open wound or infection is present, to help prevent flies from laying their eggs. Cleaning wounds with minor disinfectants and monitoring for any signs of movement or larvae can keep owners alert to problems early on.
What should I do if I suspect mites, mange and maggots?
If you suspect your dog may have a case of Mites, Mange or Maggots, there are several things you can do. The first step is bringing your dog into the vet for a complete exam. Your vet can take a look at any skin lesions to try and determine their cause. While allergies and bacterial infections are most common and may be treated first, your vet may also perform a skin scrape test to look for mange and mites at the same time. This skin scraping can be looked at under a microscope, or may be sent off to a lab for monitoring 7-14 days for signs of growth or activity.
Most pets who get mange are immune compromised in some way as the low immunity or breaks in the skin allow for the mites to take hold. Mange is usually treated with an ivermectin treatment over a period of a few months, and any other underlying issues such as immune system problems, bacterial infections or allergies are treated at the same time. Skin lesions will usually clear quickly with treatment, however hair may take longer to grow back depending on the amount of damage done to the skin and follicle.
If you suspect maggots, your vet can take a look at any wounds or infections for signs of larvae. Areas infected with maggots are usually cleaned and the larvae removed manually. In some larger infections, dead tissue may also be trimmed and removed to prevent reinfestation. Large wounds may also need suturing or a drain placed to prevent the infection from growing. Most vets will also provide antibiotics or other treatments to clear up the infection that attracted the flies in the first place. Mange, mites and maggots will also all benefit from an Elizabethan collar on your dog’s head, to prevent any licking, chewing or bothering of affected sites.
Natural remedies for treating mites, mange and maggots
Boosting the immune system may be a beneficial natural way of treating mange in pets. Additives such as Garlic, Rue, Wormwood and Neem may all help. Topical salves with lemon juice, lavender and apple cider vinegar may also be applied to affected areas to kill mites and clear infection. There are also several homeopathic treatments for mange including Sulphur 30C Sepia 30C, and Arsenic Alb 30C. These should all be dosed 2-3x daily for up to two weeks to provide relief.
Natural disinfectants and immune boosters may also help treat maggots, however once maggots are seen, it should be examined by a veterinarian. To prevent maggots in open wounds and boost the immune system, Garlic and Echinacea can be beneficial. Topical disinfectants such as the one used for mange, or applications of diluted ammonia may also keep the wound clean. Calendula and St. John’s Wort can also be applied to the wound to accelerate healing. Hypericum 6 to 30C may also be used in treating wounds.