Mange can strike any warm-blooded creatures, and is easily passed from one animal to another. When a dog or cat falls prey to mange mites, a vet generally prescribes a "dip" made of pesticide. Many pet owners choose to treat mange at home instead.
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Mange occurs when mites infest a dog or cat's coat. Demodectic mange is specifically caused by demodex mites, which bite and tunnel in the animal's skin to suck blood and lay eggs These mites are can transfer to other animals through physical contact, bedding and furniture. Any treatment for mange should include treating all the animals in the household and washing any bedding or furniture to keep the mites from spreading.
Symptoms of mange are dramatic and almost immediately obvious. A dog or cat's coat becomes patchy, dull and looks moth-eaten, while its skin becomes crusty and scabbed or flaky. Mange starts in the animal's face and spreads to its chest and body. In extreme cases, an animal might experience extensive hair and weight loss.
Home treatments for mange are gentler than the medicated dips prescribed by vets. Shampoos for treating lice in people are often useful for treating mange in animals, and serve the double purpose of soothing an animal's skin while treating its mites.
A mixture of hydrogen peroxide with borax powder and water produces a homemade medicated wash. An owner pours this mix over the dog or cat once a week and allows it to dry on the animal's skin to kill the mites. The process is repeated until all traces of mange disappear.
Nutrition directly affects an animal's ability to fight off mite infestations. Mites generally attack dogs and cats that are malnourished or have weakened immune systems. Owners should increase the level of their pets' nutrition to help the animals get over mange and prevent future infestations. Healthy foods such as fresh meats, vegetables and fruit are preferred to commercial and dry foods in a recovering animal's diet.
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