How Do Dogs Get Mange

icon October 18, 2023

Mange is a common and distressing skin condition that affects dogs worldwide. It can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms and, if left untreated, can become a significant health concern. Understanding the causes of mange and how to recognize its symptoms is crucial for dog owners. This article delves into the world of mange in dogs, exploring the various types of mange, their causes, symptoms, and available treatments.
Early Stage Mange in Dogs: The First Signs

What is Mange In Dogs

Mange, also known as canine scabies, is a skin disease caused by mites infesting a dog's skin and coat. These microscopic parasites burrow into the skin, leading to irritation, inflammation, and a host of uncomfortable symptoms. Mange is not a single disease; rather, it encompasses several different types of mites and a variety of manifestations. The two most common types of mange in dogs are sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange, each with distinct causes and characteristics.

Types Of Mange In Dogs: Sarcoptic Mange Vs. Demodectic Mange

1. Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is caused by the Sarcoptes scabies mite. These mites are highly contagious and can be transmitted through close physical contact between dogs. In some cases, sarcoptic mites can also affect humans, causing an itchy rash known as scabies.

2. Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange, also referred to as red mange or Demodex, is caused by Demodex canis, a microscopic mite that is a natural inhabitant of canine skin. These mites usually live in small numbers without causing harm, but under certain conditions, they can multiply and lead to a mange infestation.

How Do Dogs Get Mange

Causes of Sarcoptic Mange:

a. Direct Contact: The primary mode of transmission is through direct contact with an infected dog. This typically occurs through activities like sniffing, grooming, or sharing bedding with an infected animal.

b. Indirect Contact: It is possible for sarcoptic mites to survive outside the host for a brief period, which means that they can be transmitted through shared items like bedding, brushes, and even from the environment.

Causes of Demodectic Mange:

a. Weak Immune System: A weakened or underdeveloped immune system in puppies or dogs with chronic health issues can fail to keep the mite population in check, allowing them to multiply.

b. Genetics: Some breeds are more predisposed to demodectic mange, suggesting a genetic component. Breeds like the Shar-Pei, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Boxer are known to be more susceptible.

How To Tell If A Dog Has Mange:

Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange:

- Intense Itching: Dogs with sarcoptic mange often exhibit severe itching, leading to scratching, biting, and licking of affected areas.
- Red, Crusty Skin: The skin becomes red, inflamed, and crusted, especially on the ears, elbows, hocks, and abdomen.
- Hair Loss: As the condition progresses, dogs may experience hair loss, which can be widespread or localized to the affected areas.
- Secondary Infections: Scratching can lead to secondary bacterial skin infections.
- Restlessness and Behavioral Changes: Dogs may become restless and exhibit behavioral changes due to the constant discomfort and itching.

Symptoms of Demodectic Mange:
- Patchy Hair Loss: Demodectic mange typically leads to localized hair loss, usually on the face, legs, and feet.
- Red, Scaly Skin: The affected areas may develop redness and scaling, but they are not as intensely itchy as in sarcoptic mange.
- Secondary Infections: Due to the compromised skin barrier, secondary bacterial infections can occur.
- Mild Discomfort: Dogs with demodectic mange may experience mild discomfort, but they generally don't exhibit the severe itching seen in sarcoptic mange.


Diagnosing mange in dogs usually involves a combination of a physical examination, skin scrapings, and sometimes, a biopsy. A veterinarian will carefully examine your dog's skin, looking for telltale signs of mange such as hair loss, redness, and crusting. To confirm the presence of mites, the veterinarian may perform a skin scraping, where a small sample of skin is collected and examined under a microscope. In some cases, a biopsy may be necessary for a more accurate diagnosis.

How To Treat Mange In Dogs

The treatment for mange in dogs varies depending on the type of mange and the severity of the condition. It's essential to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Here are the common treatment approaches for each type of mange:

1. Sarcoptic Mange Treatment:
- Medications: The primary treatment for sarcoptic mange is typically a prescription medication that kills the mites. Common options include topical creams, oral medications, or injections. Ivermectin and Selamectin are two commonly used drugs.

Recommended Treatment For Mites:

Treatment For Mite and fungal Infections, etc.

Puainta® Fipronil Flea & Tick & Mites Topical Prevention and Treatment

Puainta™ Anti-mite Spray

- Secondary Infection Treatment: If the dog has developed secondary bacterial infections due to excessive scratching, antibiotics may also be prescribed.
- Isolation: Infected dogs should be isolated from other pets to prevent the spread of the mites.

2. Demodectic Mange Treatment:
- Monitoring: In some cases, especially with localized demodectic mange, the condition may resolve on its own without treatment.
- Medications: For more severe or generalized cases, treatment may include medications to control the mite population. Amitraz dips or oral medications like milbemycin oxime may be prescribed.
- Underlying Health Issues: Addressing any underlying health problems and improving the dog's immune system may be necessary for successful treatment.

It's crucial to follow your veterinarian's advice regarding treatment, as inappropriate use of medications can have adverse effects on your dog's health. Additionally, follow-up appointments may be needed to monitor progress and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

Preventing Mange

Preventing mange is often easier than treating it, particularly in the case of sarcoptic mange, which is highly contagious. Here are some steps to help prevent mange in your dog:

  • Regular Vet Checkups: Ensure your dog receives regular checkups, and discuss any skin issues with your veterinarian promptly.
  • Quarantine Infected Dogs: If you have multiple dogs and one is diagnosed with sarcoptic mange, isolate the infected dog to prevent the spread of mites.
  • Good Hygiene: Keep your dog clean and groomed. Regular baths and grooming can help remove mites and maintain healthy skin.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: Overcrowding of dogs in living spaces can increase the likelihood of mite transmission. Ensure your dog has enough space and avoid close contact with unfamiliar dogs.
  • Vaccination: In some cases, vaccines may be available to prevent certain types of mange. Discuss with your vet whether these are appropriate for your dog.


Is Dog Mange Contagious

Yes, dog mange can be contagious. Sarcoptic mange, in particular, is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected dog or indirectly through shared items or the environment. Demodectic mange is less contagious, as it is often associated with an underlying weakened immune system rather than direct transmission.

Can Mange Kill A Dog

Mange itself is usually not directly fatal to a dog. However, if left untreated, severe mange can lead to complications, including secondary bacterial infections and significant discomfort. These complications can negatively impact a dog's overall health and, in extreme cases, may contribute to more serious health issues. Therefore, while mange is not directly lethal, timely diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent its adverse effects on a dog's well-being.


Mange in dogs can be a distressing condition, causing discomfort and skin issues. Understanding the types of mange, their causes, symptoms, and treatment options is vital for dog owners. If you suspect that your dog may have mange, it's essential to seek prompt veterinary care. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, most dogs can recover from mange and go on to lead healthy, happy lives. Maintaining good hygiene and following preventive measures can also help keep your dog safe from mange in the first place. Remember, your veterinarian is your best resource for managing your dog's health and well-being.

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