We receive a number of phone calls each year from members of the public reporting foxes suffering from mange. Very often the calls are made by householders who have been feeding their local fox and, who have noticed that its been scratching constantly and losing fur. Mange is caused by a parasitic mite, known as Sarcoptes Scabiei, that burrows into the skin of the fox causing intense irritation and fur loss. As the fox scratches and bites itself in an attempt to relieve the dreadful itching, it can cause secondary infections to the skin.
These poor animals are also very often suffering from dehydration, conjunctivitis, and emaciation. If this dreadful condition is left untreated the fox will usually die.
If it's possible to treat an infected fox on site this would naturally be far better for the poor animal, avoiding the stress caused by trapping and several weeks in a wildlife hospital. Any fox whilst in care may lose its territory to others in the area. Homoeopathic medication is available for the treatment of mange, but we've found it's ineffective at killing the mites and, as a consequence, the condition of the fox usually becomes a lot worse.
We would recommend either Stronghold or Advocate, both are a spot on treatment for dogs. The treatment you would require is the one suitable for small dogs (4-10kg). Both Stronghold and Advocate are prescription only drugs and are available from a Vet. It's worth noting that a Vet may not be prepared to prescribe either of these drugs without first seeing the animal. Naturally this would be quite impossible with a visiting wild fox, so it's always worth taking a photo of the infected animal so that the Vet is able to assess the animal's condition. This medication is administered once a week in food for two weeks, very occasionally a third dose is required. It is important to point out that this method of treatment is only appropriate if the infected fox is coming regularly to be fed. It is extremely important that ONLY the fox receives the treatment! To prevent any possibility of another animal taking the medication, we've found ice cream is an excellent way to dispense the drug. Foxes seem to love vanilla flavoured ice cream and, if it's allowed to melt, the fox is unable to carry away and cache the medicated food. As a consequence there is no question of the drug being consumed by the wrong animal. NEVER leave the uneaten food lying about.
However, if the fox is suffering from an advanced stage of mange, or is not coming regularly to be fed, then it's best trapped and transferred to a wildlife hospital. Here the animal can receive the mange treatment, along with a broad spectrum antibiotic, which is usually successful.