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Mange in Dogs

What Is Mange in Dogs?

Mange in dogs is a skin condition triggered by mites dwelling at the hair follicles. It stems from two distinct types of mites and can be both contagious and zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans.

There are two primary types of mange: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange.

Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei. It’s relatively less common than demodectic mange and tends to afflict neglected, homeless dogs. It is also more prevalent in dogs with weakened immune systems.

Demodectic mange, also referred to as red mange, is caused by Demodex canis, Demodex injai, or Demodex cornei. This type of mange is passed from a mother to her puppies during nursing. It is not contagious among other dogs and does not pose a risk of transmission to humans.


Manifestations of mange typically include:

  • Intense itching
  • Hair loss (Alopecia)
  • Self-inflicted wounds (Excoriations)
  • Raised bumps (Papules), commonly observed on the chest
  • Thick, crusted skin, usually present on the edges of the ears, ankles (hocks), armpits, and elbows

Frequently, secondary skin infections develop due to the skin lesions. Severe itching and discomfort from skin issues can lead to weight loss, depression, reduced appetite, and lethargy. Additionally, enlarged lymph nodes may be detected. A variant of scabies known as Norwegian scabies is identified by severe skin crusting and is believed to be exacerbated by a compromised immune system.


Sarcoptic mites are frequently transmitted through close contact among dogs. These mites cannot survive for extended periods outside of a host and rely on a host to complete their life cycle. While scabies is not directly caused by poor hygiene, neglect or immunosuppression can exacerbate the condition.

Demodectic mites typically inhabit a dog’s skin and coexist with the host without causing harm. Normally, this mite is transferred between dogs during puppyhood, often from mother to puppy. Mange occurs when the mite proliferates within the hair follicle.


Mange is typically diagnosed through a skin scraping test, hair sample, or cytology.

Using a scalpel blade is a minimally invasive technique that allows the veterinarian to scrape the skin deeply enough to cause some irritation while ensuring the removal of the hair follicle at the root. Complete removal of the hair follicle is crucial, as demodex mites are often embedded deep within the root.

Other common tests that a veterinarian may recommend include fecal testing, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, or, in severe cases, a skin biopsy.


The treatment of mange involves the use of topical medications, specialized shampoos, and frequently antiparasitic medications. In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary. Treatment strategies are adjusted based on the specific type of mange and the severity of the infection.

Living and Management

In the case of scabies, all dogs that have had contact with the infected dog should undergo treatment, and the surrounding environment must be thoroughly disinfected. This includes kennels, crates, collars, bedding, toys, and so forth. It’s crucial for dogs in the vicinity to remain on monthly or tri-monthly preventatives to minimize the risk of infection.

Demodectic mange typically doesn’t necessitate environmental cleaning since it doesn’t often spread between dogs. However, it’s still advisable for dogs to receive monthly or tri-monthly miticidal preventatives.

Most dogs afflicted with mange can anticipate a complete recovery with appropriate therapy. Chronic cases usually stem from underlying systemic illnesses or secondary infections. Mange can become fatal if dogs receive incorrect therapy or if their underlying medical conditions are not managed properly.

Mange in Dogs FAQs

Can humans get mange from dogs?

Humans can contract sarcoptic mange from dogs, but they cannot acquire demodectic mange from dogs.

Can you treat mange at home?

Mange should not be treated at home if the clinical signs are moderate to severe. If your dog exhibits a small patch of hair loss that doesn’t seem to bother her, you may choose to wait 1-2 months to observe if there is any improvement. However, if the hair loss continues beyond this time, if skin lesions develop, or if your dog shows signs of itchiness, lethargy, loss of appetite, or depression, it is important to take her to a veterinarian for assessment.

What are the early signs of mange in dogs?

Early indications of mange encompass alopecia (hair loss), scaling or crusting of the skin, papules or bumps on the skin, varying degrees of itching ranging from mild to severe, and self-induced excoriations (wounds).

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