Mange in Dogs and What to do About It

Mange in Dogs and What to do About It

Author WDF Staff


Mange in dogs is a skin disease that looks pretty terrible. If you have ever seen any news about a rescue dog that was neglected or mistreated whose skin looks like it turned to stone, you probably witnessed a pretty bad case of mange. These dogs look hopeless and like they are standing on their last legs. Luckily, there is good news when it comes to treating this horrible skin disease. Here is what you should know about mange in dogs.

What is mange in dogs?

You would be surprised how many dog owners asked the same question - What is mange in dogs? Most owners are interested in preventing their own dogs from getting infected and what they can do if they notice their dog is starting to develop this disease.

When it comes to mange in dogs, we need to understand that the term “mange” is not an actual disease. It is a term vets and owners use to describe a series of skin issues animals can face. These diseases are caused by mites.

Mites that cause mange

Several types of mites can infect dogs, and the most common ones are Sarcoptes scabiei and Demodex canis. These are nasty parasites that can cause all sorts of discomfort for our dogs. They can even infect humans if we are not careful while treating or socializing with an already infected dog.

There is another common parasite in dogs. Check out this article - Giardia In Dogs.

Sarcoptes scabei

The Sarcoptes scabei are common in dogs and other animals. This mite is highly infectious and is easily transmitted between dogs. Interspecies infection is possible as well, and dogs can easily transfer it to cats and even humans.

Demodex canis

Demodex canis is the most common type of mite that is found in all healthy dogs. The puppies get infected when they start nursing. The infection happens in the first few days of their life, and they carry these parasites with them for the rest of their life. These parasites cannot infect humans.

Other mites

These parasites are not the only ones that can cause skin issues, but they are responsible for more than 85% of mange cases in dogs. Some other mites that can cause mange in dogs are Otodectes cynotis and Cheyletiella yasguri. You can read more about these parasites here - Mites in Dogs and How to Get Rid of Them.

A common parasite that infects dogs is called coccidia. Check out this article for more information - Coccidia in Dogs.

Most common types of mange in dogs

The two most common mites in dogs are responsible for the two most common mange infections in dogs. The Demodex canis parasite is responsible for Demodex mange in dogs, and Sarcoptes scabei causes sarcoptic mange.

Sarcoptic mange

This type of mange is very contagious. The first symptoms can be noticed as early as 10 days after contact with an infected dog. Even the owners need to be careful when they are handling infected dogs.

This type of disease develops because female mites burry into the dog’s skin where they lay eggs. After the eggs hatch, they will start feeding on their host’s skin. This infection needs to be treated right away, and if left untreated, it can spread rapidly.

There is a parasite that can infect the dog’s heart. Check out this nasty parasite - Heartworm in Dogs.

How to spot sarcoptic mange in dogs?

Sarcoptic mange, or canine scabies, as it is often called, will start to develop anywhere from 10 days to 8 weeks after contact with a dog already carrying this parasite. The first symptoms will most likely be mild, and they will be located in the ears, chest, hocks, elbows, and belly. If the owner of the infected dog doesn’t react right away, the parasites will likely spread and cause a pretty bad infection. Some of the symptoms of sarcoptic mange in dogs are:

  • Incredible itchiness
  • Thick yellow crusting of the skin
  • Rash and inflammation of the skin
  • Loss of hair and deteriorating coat
  • Subsequent infections (bacterial and yeast)

In the most extreme cases;

  • Skin gets thickened and hard
  • Lymph nodes will get seriously inflamed as the body fights the infection
  • Emaciation

How to treat sarcoptic mange in dogs?

Sarcoptic mange treatment in dogs is pretty similar in both cases. The most important thing is that you don’t try to solve the infection by yourself; keep in mind that these parasites can spread rather quickly. A mild case can become a severe case in a matter of days. The treatments will include three steps;

1. Cutting the dog’s coat

2. Baths to heal and soften the skin

3. The vet will prescribe steroids for controlling the inflammation and antibiotics for bacterial infections that open wounds might have caused. Steroids will help with the itching control, and if you follow the vet’s steps, your dog will get rid of these parasites in a matter of weeks.

One of the most common parasites that carry different diseases is the tick. Check out this article for more info - Ticks on dogs and how to remove them.

Demodex mange in dogs

Demodex mange is also known as demodectic mange or red mange. It is caused by Demodex canis mite that is a normal part of skin flora. These mites are pretty harmless usually, and they will not cause any problems most of the time.

Demodex mites will bury themselves in hair follicles where they will remain peaceful, and the dog’s healthy immune system won’t allow them to reproduce. The immune system keeps them in check and their numbers below infection levels. This type of mange in dogs can develop for several reasons;

  • Puppies that are born with an immune deficiency can be prone to developing Demodex mange.
  • Younger dogs might have issues and develop isolated areas where their hair will start to fall off. It usually goes away on its own or after applying some form of medication.
  • Senior dogs that were severely neglected or malnourished can have a weakened immune system and develop Demodex mange.
  • Serious health issues like cancer or diabetes can cause dogs to have a decrease in health and immune systems, which can end up with them developing Demodex mange.

Symptoms of Demodex mange

The symptoms of Demodex mange in dogs are similar to the symptoms of sarcoptic mange. Luckily, Demodex is usually less aggressive and is easier to treat. The most common symptoms are;

  • Partial hair loss (bald patches)
  • Red, scaled skin
  • Skin infections
  • Severe hair loss (dogs can lose all of their hair)
  • Whole skin redness

Diagnosis of mange in dogs

The most important thing you can do if you suspect your dog is infected with mites and is developing some sort of mange infection is to take them to see the vet. Call ahead and let them know you are on your way and you are suspecting your dog is infected with mites. The vet will make room, so your dog doesn’t infect other patients.

The vet will take a sample of your dog’s skin and check it under the microscope for mites. They will determine what type of mite infected your dog and let you know the next steps.

Here are some of the most popular ways to get rid of different parasites in dogs - Best Dewormers For Your Dog.

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