What is mange in dogs?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: June 29, 2024

Introduction to Mange

Mange is a skin condition caused by various species of parasitic mites. These tiny creatures burrow into the skin of dogs, causing intense itching, hair loss, and a variety of other dermatological symptoms. Mange is a significant concern for dog owners due to its contagious nature and the discomfort it causes to pets.

Types of Mange

There are primarily two types of mange that affect dogs: Sarcoptic Mange and Demodectic Mange. Each type is caused by different species of mites and presents distinct symptoms and treatment challenges.

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies, is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. This highly contagious parasitic infestation can spread rapidly among dogs through direct contact or contaminated environments.

  • Symptoms: Intense itching, redness, rash, thickening of the skin, crusty sores, and hair loss. The itching is usually more severe at night.
  • Transmission: Direct contact with an infected dog, bedding, grooming tools, or other fomites.
  • Diagnosis: Skin scrapings examined under a microscope, although mites can be challenging to detect.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange, also known as demodicosis or red mange, is caused by the Demodex canis mite. Unlike sarcoptic mange, demodectic mange is not contagious and is usually associated with an underlying immune system issue.

  • Symptoms: Hair loss, red and inflamed skin, pustules, and scaling. It often starts around the face, especially near the eyes and mouth.
  • Transmission: Typically occurs when a dog's immune system is compromised, allowing the naturally occurring Demodex mites to proliferate uncontrollably.
  • Diagnosis: Skin scrapings, hair pluckings, or biopsy to identify the mites.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

A wide range of symptoms can indicate mange in dogs, and early detection is crucial for effective treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • Severe itching and scratching
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Red, inflamed, or scaly skin
  • Pustules and crusts on the skin
  • Thickened skin
  • Secondary bacterial or fungal infections

Diagnosing mange involves a combination of clinical signs and diagnostic tests. Veterinarians may perform skin scrapings, hair pluckings, and biopsies to identify the presence and type of mites. In some cases, a response to treatment may also aid in diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Treatment for mange varies depending on the type and severity of the infestation. It often involves a combination of medication, topical treatments, and supportive care.


  • Acaricides: Medications such as ivermectin, selamectin, and moxidectin are commonly used to kill mites. These can be administered orally, topically, or via injection.
  • Antibiotics: Secondary bacterial infections are common in mange cases and may require antibiotics to treat.
  • Anti-inflammatories: Corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce itching and inflammation.

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments, including medicated shampoos, dips, and spot-on treatments, can help eliminate mites and soothe irritated skin. These treatments often contain ingredients such as sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, and lime sulfur.

Supportive Care

Supportive care is essential to promote healing and prevent secondary infections. This may include:

  • Regular bathing with medicated shampoos
  • Maintaining a clean and comfortable living environment
  • Ensuring proper nutrition to support immune function
  • Monitoring and managing any underlying health conditions

Prevention Strategies

Preventing mange involves several strategies to reduce the risk of mite infestations and maintain overall health.

  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Routine veterinary visits can help detect and manage mange early.
  • Good Hygiene: Regular grooming and bathing can help keep your dog’s skin healthy and free from mites.
  • Environmental Control: Cleaning and disinfecting your dog's living area, bedding, and grooming tools can prevent the spread of mites.
  • Healthy Diet: Providing a balanced and nutritious diet supports your dog’s immune system, helping prevent mange.

Complications and Prognosis

If left untreated, mange can lead to severe complications. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections can develop, causing further discomfort and potentially systemic illness. Chronic mange can result in extensive skin damage and scarring.

However, with timely and appropriate treatment, most dogs recover fully from mange. The prognosis depends largely on the type of mange, the severity of the infestation, and the presence of any underlying health conditions.

Understanding Rare and Niche Details

While mange is a relatively well-known condition, there are several niche aspects worth noting:

  • Localized vs. Generalized Demodectic Mange: Localized demodectic mange typically affects puppies and is confined to a few small areas, often resolving on its own. Generalized demodectic mange is more severe and widespread, requiring intensive treatment.
  • Breed Predispositions: Certain breeds, such as the Shar-Pei and English Bulldog, are more susceptible to demodectic mange due to genetic factors influencing their immune response.
  • Immune System Role: The immune system's role in controlling demodex populations highlights the importance of overall health in managing mange. Dogs with compromised immune systems are at greater risk for severe infestations.
  • Human Interaction: Sarcoptic mange can be zoonotic, meaning it can spread to humans, causing a condition known as scabies. This underscores the importance of prompt treatment and good hygiene practices.

Emerging Research and Developments

Ongoing research continues to enhance our understanding of mange and its treatment. Advances in veterinary medicine, including the development of new acaricides and improved diagnostic techniques, promise better outcomes for affected dogs. Studies exploring the genetic basis of demodectic mange may lead to targeted therapies and preventive strategies in the future.

In conclusion, mange in dogs is a multifaceted condition requiring a comprehensive approach to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. By understanding the different types of mange, recognizing the symptoms, and implementing effective treatment and preventive measures, dog owners can ensure the well-being of their pets.

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