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Demodectic and Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs

Demodectic and Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs

What Is Mange?

Mange is a common skin disease in dogs that is caused by mites. Mange in dogs can be caused by different types of mites, which results in different forms of mange. There are two main types of mange in dogs—sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, and demodectic mange, also known as red mange or demodex.

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies, is a highly contagious form of mange caused by a circular-shaped, parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. This parasite is transmitted from dog to dog, or in some cases, it can be transmitted from foxes or coyotes to dogs.

The entire life cycle of the mite takes place on the dog. Female mites will burrow into the dog’s skin and lay eggs, which hatch in about three weeks. Then the young mites feed on the dog’s skin.

Sarcoptic mange is zoonotic, meaning it can pass from dogs to humans. These mites don’t thrive on non-canine hosts. They can’t complete their life cycle on humans, but they will cause intense itching until they die.

Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange

Symptoms of sarcoptic mange in dogs typically appear between 10 days to 8 weeks after contact with infected dogs or animals. Lesions are typically first noticed on the chest, abdomen, ears, elbows, and hocks. If left untreated, the infection can spread quickly and become generalized.

Common symptoms of sarcoptic mange include:

  • Chewing and scratching of the skin
  • Skin lesions
  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Intense itchiness
  • Open sores
  • Scabs
  • Hair loss
  • Thick yellow crusts
  • Secondary bacterial and yeast infections

In severe cases, symptoms may include:

  • Seborrhea
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Enlarged, inflamed lymph nodes
  • Emaciation (abnormally thin or weak)
  • Death

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange in dogs, also known as demodex, is caused by a cigar-shaped mite called Demodex canis. According to the American Kennel Club, Demodex mites are a normal part of the skin flora. Unlike the mites that cause sarcoptic mange, these mites are always present and typically harmless. In fact, mother dogs pass them to their puppies during nursing in the first few days after birth.

These mites live deep within the hair follicles and sebaceous glands, usually causing no issues, and spend their entire life cycle on the dog. A healthy and normal immune system helps keep these mites and their numbers in check.

However, a weakened or immature immune system can make a dog susceptible to demodectic mange. When the immune system is weakened, these mites can increase rapidly, grow out of control, and cause issues. Some dogs that are more prone to demodectic mange include sick, neglected, stray, or older dogs.

There are three forms of demodectic mange in dogs:

  • Localized demodectic mange: This form of mange usually affects dogs younger than one year old, and most cases go away on their own. Localized demodectic mange typically causes lesions on the face and forelimbs. Symptoms include small areas of hair loss, scaling, and redness. A small number of these cases will progress to a more severe form of mange. 
  • Juvenile-onset mange: This form of mange is caused by an inherited defect in the immune system. It often affects puppies and causes generalized lesions, redness, hair loss, oily seborrhea, edema, and crusts.
  • Adult-onset mange: This form of mange is typically triggered by diseases that cause a weakened immune system, including cancer, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Cushing’s disease.

Symptoms of Demodectic Mange

Symptoms of demodectic mange include:

  • Patches of hair loss (dogs may lose all their hair in generalized cases)
  • Redness
  • Infections
  • Scaling
  • Swelling
  • Crusts

Diagnosis of Mange

Mange in dogs is diagnosed through skin scrapings. Your veterinarian will look at the skin scrapings under a microscope to check for mites or eggs. Merck Veterinary Manual points out that diagnosing sarcoptic mange can be difficult due to negative skin scrapings and the inability to find mites or eggs.

Treating Mange in Dogs

If you think that your dog has mange, you should consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. In most cases, both forms of mange will need to be treated in order to control the mites and heal the skin. Treatment often includes:

  • Clipping the hair
  • Bathing in medicated shampoos on a weekly basis to help remove dirt and crusts as well as promote healing of the skin
  • Applying whole-body dips (common dips includes include amitraz and lime-sulfur dip)
  • Controlling and getting rid of the mites, which may include topical applications or oral medication (selamectin and imidacloprid-moxidectin formulations are often effective topicals)
  • Treating any secondary skin infections with antibiotics

Preventing Mange in Dogs

Because there are different types of mange, there are also different ways to try and prevent your dog from developing mange. For sarcoptic mange, the only thing you can do is to try and prevent your dog from coming into contact with an infected dog or animal. You should also keep your dog up to date on flea, worm, and heartworm prevention.

The key to preventing demodectic mange is maintaining good overall health in your dog. Promoting a healthy immune system, a good diet, and a clean environment can help reduce your dog’s chance of developing a mite infestation. Giving your dog a multivitamin, like Advanced Daily Vitamin, can help maintain the health of the immune system and provide the necessary nutrients to supplement your dog’s daily diet and fill any nutritional gaps.

Thomas Pet MicoChlor Plus

Skin issues can be frustrating for pets and their owners. They often cause discomfort for our pets, which is hard for us to watch. That’s why Thomas Pet developed MicoChlor Plus Shampoo.

It was formulated to help ease the symptoms of skin conditions in dogs. This antibacterial shampoo contains aloe to provide a cooling effect and oatmeal to help soothe irritated, itchy skin on dogs. Ask your vet if MicoChlor Plus can help your dog!


The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.

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