Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Mange in dogs

The essentials

  • Know the difference between the two mange types — Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious to animals and humans, while demodectic mange isn’t.
  • Prevention is key — You can prevent mange by making sure your dog is taking flea or tick-preventative medications, which are effective at killing mange-causing mites.
  • Seek treatment right away — Mange is treatable, but treatment can be painful for your dog, and it can also expose you to the mites that cause it.

There are two types of mange caused by parasitic mites: demodectic mange, which isn’t generally contagious, and sarcoptic mange, which is zoonotic — meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. 

Here’s everything you need to know about mange and how to keep your furry friend safe and healthy.

Sarcoptic vs demodectic mange

There are two major types of mange and the type of mite causing it matters: sarcoptic (also known as canine scabies) and demodectic (also known as red mange). Both types can negatively affect your dog’s quality of life, but only one can present a danger to humans. 

Sarcoptic mange is zoonotic, meaning that it’s a disease that can be passed from animals to humans through sarcoptic mange mites. Demodectic, on the other hand, isn’t contagious to humans and many dogs have these mites as they’re transmitted from mother to puppy in their first days of life. 

Let’s explore the main differences between these types of mange and how you can know which is affecting your dog.

The types of mange in dogs

Sarcoptic Demodectic
Even small numbers of these mites are extremely contagious, with symptoms typically appearing about 10 days to 8 weeks following exposure. These mites are normal inhabitants of a dog and even plenty of humans.
In humans, itchy bumps can occur within a span of 24 hours and could last up to 3 weeks. With healthy immune systems, they won’t affect your dog or any other animal.
If left untreated, this type of mange can and will persist in dogs, but won’t on humans as these mites can’t sustain their entire life cycle or reproduction on humans. While not contagious, these mites can cause other issues if an immunocompromised dog is exposed.

Symptoms of mange in dogs

There are plenty of causes of itchiness in dogs other than mange. It’s important to stay vigilant and aware of your furry friend’s appearance and behavior and familiarize yourself with your dog’s symptoms.


  • For more typical cases of sarcoptic mange, you can expect extreme itchiness, bacterial or yeast infections, thick, yellow crusts or scabs on the skin, and redness or a rash
  • In severe cases, or those who have had prolonged exposure, you may notice notice thickening of the skin, emaciation, and inflammation of the lymph nodes


  • While not contagious, in the early stages, demodectic mange can still be troublesome and present as hair loss, severe itching, skin scaling, pigmentation of the skin, or bumps on the skin
  • In more severe cases, your dog may present with lesions due to intense scratching

👉 Both types of mange most commonly affect the head, ear margins, elbows, and hocks (back “elbow”) — however, patches can be found anywhere on your pet’s body. Keep an eye out if you notice an increased sensitivity in those areas. 

How is mange diagnosed?

Both forms of mange are diagnosed via skin scrapings, which are done by your veterinarian. After the skin is scraped, they’ll examine the specimen under a microscope and conduct a physical examination of your pet to ensure nothing is missed. 

  • Sarcoptic mites burrow deep into the skin, so they may not be present in a traditional skin scrape. Even if your vet doesn’t see any sarcoptic mites, they may make a diagnosis regardless to begin the treatment plan, especially since there don’t have to be large numbers of mites to cause discomfort.
  • Demodectic mites live in the hair follicles of dogs along the skin’s surface, which is easily seen in a skin scrape. Because they’re present on most dogs, vets will typically look for a higher count of microscopic mites than is typical before rigorous treatment is offered.

How is mange treated?

There are several ways to treat mange and your vet will be able to determine the best treatment depending on what type of mange your pup has and how severe it is. 

The treatment of mange is usually done topically through dips, like lime sulfur washes (which aren’t commonly used anymore), topical creams, or oral medications. 

  • Topical medications . Topicals require application to your dog’s skin every 14-30 days or as recommended by your vet. Some examples include moxidectin + imidacloprid (Advantage Multi) or topical fluralaner (Bravecto).
  • Oral medicines. These can be prescribed in liquid, chew, or pill form and given for 30-60 days to ensure that each generation of mites present is killed. Some off-label medicines (like Ivermectin) can also be given. 
  • Dips and washes. A long wash may be necessary to help remove dirt and crusts that form. 
  • Hair clipping. Since demodectic mites live in hair follicles, clipping long-haired dogs might help make other treatment options more effective.

The treatment of sarcoptic mange can be difficult. Even after the initial eradication, you’ll have to keep a clean environment and ensure that your pet doesn’t have direct contact with strays or another infected dog.

👉 Ivermectin can be dangerous if not administered properly. Herding breeds including Australian shepherds, Collies, and Shetland sheepdogs should not be given Ivermectin as they are more sensitive to this drug.

Due to the contagious nature of sarcoptic mange, you’ll want to either vigorously clean any bedding your dog has come into contact with or remove it entirely from the home. Be sure to vacuum and wash the floors well, as this exposure can cause reinfection. 

Treatment for the underlying cause of demodectic mange

The mites that cause demodectic mange live on plenty of dogs and people without ever causing an issue. Most of the time, these mites only become an issue when a dog has immune system malfunction, or hasn’t fully developed its immune system yet.

With this specific type of mange, it’s best to treat the underlying reasons to help prevent recurrence. For example, if your dog has a food allergy that is causing them to have vitamin or mineral imbalances or an autoimmune response to food, they may be more susceptible to mange as a result.

What is the prognosis of dogs with mange?

Your canine companion is likely to make a full recovery if they have mange, regardless of the type they have. They might just have lingering patches of hair missing or scars from excessive scratching. 

Sometimes mange can become a chronic issue. However, this is typically more of a risk when a pet has an underlying illness or secondary infection that, when treated, will likely cease mange recurrence.

🚨 Sarcoptic mange can, in some rare cases, be fatal. This can happen if a dog is so weakened by thickened skin, subsequent malnutrition, secondary bacterial infections, or if they receive the wrong treatment. It’s best to get your dog checked early to avoid any long-term issues.

Helping a dog heal from mange can feel overwhelming, especially since no dog owner wants to see their furry friend in pain. With proper treatment and further prevention, you can ensure your dog recovers from this parasitic skin disease and gets back to their best self in no time.

Frequently asked questions

How do you get rid of mange on a dog?

Different kinds of mites cause the two types of mange, but they are treated in similar ways using topical or oral medicines to clear the skin infection and remove the parasites. You’ll want to confirm with your vet which treatment option is best suited for your dog.

Is dog mange contagious to humans?

Sarcoptic mange is a type of skin disease that can be transmitted to humans and other family members. Your cat is also susceptible to canine scabies, so be sure to keep any infected dog away from them until their skin condition is fully resolved.

Is it OK to touch a dog with mange?

Touching the surface of the skin of a dog with sarcoptic mange isn’t a good idea. There are different types of mites and those that cause sarcoptic mange can infect humans. 

While the most common form of mange, demodectic, likely won’t cause you any issues if you have a normal immune system, it’s best to steer clear of skin-to-skin contact until the mange clears.

Can dogs survive mange?

Yes, especially with swift intervention and treatment. Dogs that have a genetic defect predisposing them to mange, a suppressed immune system, or bacterial infections can be more susceptible to demodectic mange (which is fatal in rare cases), but can often recover well with treatment.

What are some signs of canine mange?

Clinical signs of mange sometimes present as a red skin surface, skin lesions, or an itchy dog. While this can sometimes be caused by an allergic reaction, mange usually results in patches of hair loss or inflammation of your dogs’ hair follicles. 

In more severe cases, mange can cause severe thickening of the skin or even weight loss. If you suspect that your dog has canine mange, it’s a good idea to keep them away from close contact with others until you receive a diagnosis from your vet.

Can mange kill a dog?

In rare cases, yes. Sarcoptic mange is the most aggressive form of mange and can result in bacterial infections and secondary skin infections. If left untreated, it can also cause emaciation, depression, or hypothermia. This is why it’s of paramount importance to have your dog checked out by your vet if you suspect they have mange whether you have young dogs or senior pets.