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  4. Mange in Dogs - Causes and How to Treat It (Demodectic, Sarcoptic, Scabies)

Mange in Dogs - Causes and How to Treat It (Demodectic, Sarcoptic, Scabies)

Mange in Dogs Image

What is Mange?

Mange is a skin disease in mammals caused by tiny mites present on the animal's skin. Mange can be quite prevalent in dogs. It's not typically fatal, but if left untreated it can lead to serious secondary conditions.

Symptoms range in severity depending on the type of mite and the dog's age. Some mites that cause mange are common on the skin but can become an issue when overpopulating. Others are immediately parasitic.

Any mite on a dog's skin can cause mild to severe symptoms if something causes them to multiply.

The Types of Mange

Walking the dog

Canine mange comes in two main types: Demodectic and Sarcoptic (canine scabies).

1. Demodectic mange

Demodectic mange is caused by the demodex mite. Demodex mites are normally present on a dog's skin in small numbers. Under these conditions, no symptoms arise. However, when they proliferate, they can cause severe skin irritation and hair loss, among other symptoms we'll discuss a bit later.

Demodectic mange comes in two forms. Its localized form is common in new puppies, but is often cured without any treatment in 90% of puppies.

Its generalized form is more serious. It covers a larger area of the body usually requires treatment to get rid of.

2. Sarcoptic mange

Sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies, can be quite severe. Although treatable, the mites burrow through the dog's skin, causing extreme irritation, and the scratching that usually occurs can lead to major hair loss.

Both forms of dog mange typically arise out of a weakened immune system, unhealthy diet or living condition, and/or a genetic predisposition to the disease.

How Do Dogs Get Mange? (Causes)

Causes of Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange is caused by the Demodex mite. They live in the hair follicles and on the surface of the skin, typically in small numbers.

However, when a dog's immune system is suppressed or the animal is subject to unhealthy living conditions, the body's natural defense mechanism may dampen, giving the mites the opportunity to multiply. The mange infection itself can also lead to a suppressed immune system.

Specific causes of demodectic mange are unknown, but a dog's genetics may predispose them to contracting the disease.

Puppy Mange


It's commonly understood that puppies can receive demodex mites from their mother during nursing in the first few weeks after birth. This is usually the localized form, and typically cures itself without treatment.

Causes of Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. It usually arises from exposure to another animal with sarcoptic mange.

Areas highly populated by animals, such as kennels and shelters, typically have a higher number of sarcoptic mange cases. Symptoms usually arise between two and six weeks after contact.

Is Mange Contagious?

As far as we know, demodectic mange is not explicitly contagious. The mites can transfer between dogs, but if the receiving dog is healthy no disease should arise. And the mites can't be transferred to humans.

However, sarcoptic mange is highly contagious, both to other animals and humans.

Dog Breeds Most Likely to Get Mange

These are some of the dog breeds likely to be predisposed to getting mange:

  • - Doberman
  • - Boxer
  • - Old English Sheepdogs
  • - Chihuahua
  • - Beagle
  • - Shih-Tzu
  • - German Shepherd
  • - Collie
  • - Dalmatian
  • - Pug
  • - Pit Bull
  • - Boston Terrier

However, any dog breed can contract mange.

Dog running

What Does Mange Look Like on a Dog?

Mange is not a pretty sight. It can range from redness all the way to visible lesions and skin tearing. Most images are too graphic to share here.

If you believe your dog might have contracted mange, take him or her to the vet immediately.

Symptoms and Diagnoses

Some of the symptoms of mange in dogs are as follows:

  • - Redness
  • - Itchy skin
  • - Hair falling out, leaving behind infected areas
  • - Leathery skin
  • - Scabbing
  • - Sores
  • - Restlessness or frantic scratching

The most commonly affected areas are around the ears, elbows, stomach, face, and legs.

You can diagnosis mange through these methods:

  • - Skin scrapings to test the skin for mites
  • - Hair plucking
  • - Urine tests
  • - Physical inspection

How to Treat Mange in Dogs

Dog laying down

Luckily, mange is a treatable disease. Still, make sure to consult your veterinarian before providing treatment to your pet.

Demodectic Mange Treatment

Localized demodectic mange usually cures itself, as the problem has not proliferated. Generalized demodectic mange does require treatment, however.

Demodectic mange is typically treated with a prescription medication that kills the mites. Medicated shampoos or lime sulfur dips may also be used. It should be noted that these may only kill live mites and not their eggs, so treatment may need to be conducted over an extended period of time to kill mites as they hatch.

Sarcoptic Mange Treatment

Since sarcoptic mange is contagious, your dog must first be moved away from other animals and people. Their bedding and collar should also be replaced.

Sarcoptic mange is typically treated with antiparasitic medications and itching/inflammatory relief medications. Like demodectic mange, medicated shampoos may be used as well.

Looking for a home remedy for mange? This article has a few ideas.

Products That Help With Mange Treatment

- Frontline Spray – Can help control of sarcoptic mange infestations in dogs.

- Parastar Plus for Dogs – Controls mites that may cause sarcoptic mange.

- Vet Solutions Lime Sulfur Dip – Treatment of dermatoses and parasites on dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.

How to Prevent Mange from Coming Back

Mange can never be fully prevented, but the best prevention is always maintaining your dog's health and happiness.

A healthy dog can keep demodex mites contained. And when around other animals, make sure none of them are experiencing sarcoptic mange symptoms that might transfer to your dog.

Also be sure to wash their bedding often and make sure their environment is clean.

To Wrap It Up

Mange is a nasty disease that no owner would wish upon their pet. Unfortunately, it does occur, but now you should be fully prepared to identify it and treat it.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us!