Dogs Dog Mange

Published on August 29th, 2014 | by Debbie Martin


What is Mange and How Does a Dog Get Infected?

Mange is a nasty skin ailment in dogs and if it is left untreated it can turn into Sarcoptic mange, which is a life threatening issue sadly. What exactly is mange and how can it infect a dog? Let’s take a look at this disease and how it works.

How Mange Works

First of all, the disease starts with mites. These little creatures burrow down into the skin of the dog then they live off the nutrients that the dog provides. They live on the skin and they can reproduce, lay eggs and eventually multiply. These parasites multiply very quickly and by living on the skin this will cause irritation and will mean the dog will be itching and scratching a lot. The dog will suffer from infection, bald spots, redness, hair loss and lots of pain.

Mange is very contagious and it can be passed along from dog to dog, especially if it is one of the more contagious types of mange such as cheyletiella or sarcoptic. These types of mange can be spread from one animal to the other very easily. It is impossible to see the mites with the naked eye, as they are microscopic. The dogs don’t even have to touch to transfer the mites – they can be present in the environment such as in an item of bedding or in a carpet. If you discover that your dog has mange you should keep them away from any other animal until they can be seen and treated by a vet. These problems can even affect humans as well as other animals.

Sarcoptic Mange

This disease is also known as canine scabies, which is caused by burrowing mites. The canine sarcoptic mite is a dangerous parasite that can infect horses, cats, pigs, sheep and various other species. They are related to the mite that causes scabies in humans.

All of these burrowing mites are species from the same family, which is known as Sarcoptidae. They will dig their way deep into the skin, which causes intense itching from an allergic reaction to the mite. These wounds will become infected and the animal will experience hair loss and crusting over the skin. The dog won’t be able to stop scratching and biting itself too, which will cause significant damage to the skin. Often, this damage will result in a secondary skin infection.

This is the most dangerous form of mange and it can be deadly for your dog, so it is very important to ensure that it is treated right away.


This type of mange is also known as the “red mange” and it is caused by an overpopulation of the Demodex canis in the animal’s immune system. The two types of demodectic mange are generalized and localized.

This type of mange caused by demodectic mites is not as serious as sarcoptic mange, which is life threatening because it can spread to other parts of the dog’s body. Demodectic mites are passed along from a mother dog to its puppies. The mites thrive on the hair follicles in the puppy and they are “part” of the dog itself.

Most healthy dogs are immune to these parasites. These types of mites can live on the dog without causing them any symptoms, but sometimes they can cause problems. If the dog has a compromised immune system the mites will cause a lot of stress, scratching and hair loss.

This type of mange is not necessarily contagious, but proper hygiene for the dog is needed to prevent the mange from occurring. Every dog owner should always be providing their pet with clean bedding and making sure that their vaccinations are up to date. It is also important to initiate worming and flea prevention regularly. If you have a female dog she should be spayed, so that the process of giving birth doesn’t cause unnecessary stress to the dog.

Get Treatment for Your Dog

If your dog is suffering from any of these symptoms and you think they might have mange, you should visit your veterinarian right away so that they can come up with a treatment plan.

If your dog has sarcoptic mange, it is very important that you isolate them from other dogs and their bedding immediately. Any place that they have occupied should be sanitized and other dogs that have had contact with them should be checked at the vet as well. Your vet might suggest other parasitical treatments for treating canine scabies, such as lime sulfur remedies.

Keep a close eye on your pet so that you can keep them safe from the pain, suffering and potential death of mange!

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About the Author

Debbie has worked for Beeston Animal Health for a number of years and although generally involved with the marketing these days she has a great deal of knowledge on many things to do with small animals.

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