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Mange In Dogs: What You Need To Know!

A husky laying down in the grass with two bugs on his nose
Dr. Erica Irish author of Mange in dogs: What You Need To Know

When your dog is itchy or losing hair, there can be a number of possible causes. Your veterinarian may recommend some skin testing to rule out a bacterial infection, a fungal infection, or mange. Certain kinds of mange can be passed on to other pets and to people, so it is important to know about mange in dogs.

What Is Mange In Dogs?

Mange is a skin condition that is caused by microscopic mites that can live on your dog’s skin. Mange can cause hair loss, infection, and sometimes intense itching and scratching. All dogs are susceptible to mange, but puppies and dogs with cancer are more likely to have mange due to their weakened immune systems. There are different kinds of mange, and the two most common types are Sarcoptic mange and Demodectic mange.

Sarcoptic Mange (scabies)

Sarcoptic mange is caused by theSarcoptes scabieimite which can pass from dog to dog and can even pass to people and other animals. Therefore, your dog may be at risk for developing sarcoptic mange if he goes to public areas such as shelters, kennels, dog parks, groomers, and vet clinics. Once a female mite jumps on your dog, she will burrow and lay eggs in your dog’s skin which causes intense itching.

After anywhere from one to eight weeks, you may start to notice that your dog is losing hair on his face and legs. He may also develop red, scaly skin with crusts on the edges of his ears. His skin may appear very red in some areas. You should also be concerned if you start feeling itchy after coming into contact with your itchy dog. If this is the case, then make sure to avoid sharing a bed with your pup and contact your own doctor right away if you develop a skin rash.

There are a few ways to treat sarcoptic mange. One of the oldest methods is by using a type of shampoo known as lime dip. This is a sulfur-based topical rinse that has a bright yellow color and a foul odor, but it is very effective at treating mange. It is recommended to bathe your dog in lime dip at least once a week for four to six treatments. Because it can stain clothing very well, make sure to wear old clothing and use old toweling when using this treatment for your dog. Lime dip is one of the safest methods and can be used on very young puppies.

Certain topical and oral medications can also be prescribed. Topical products containing the ingredient moxidectin are very effective and should be applied every two weeks for at least three treatments. This is considered an off-label use, especially if your dog is younger than what is recommended on the packaging, so be sure to only use this kind of treatment under your veterinarian’s supervision. The same rule applies to oral medications in the class of drugs known as isoxazolines. These medications are labeled for flea and tick prevention, but there are new studies that demonstrate their efficacy against skin mites.

It is rare but possible for dogs to become infested with sarcoptic mites when they come into contact with items like beds, collars, harnesses, etc. Therefore, make sure to wash or dispose of these items. It is also a good idea to keep your dog separated from other pets and children in the household while he is undergoing treatment for sarcoptic mange.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange is caused by theDemodex canis mite that is transmitted from mothers to their puppies within days of birth. Most dogs may have small numbers ofDemodex mites in their hair follicles at any given time and have no issues. However, for reasons that are poorly understood, some dogs have a hereditary predisposition for developing an inflammatory reaction to these mites that results in hair loss, red skin, and sometimes itchiness. This can be localized or can affect the entire body. Puppies are more susceptible to these reactions due to their weakened immune systems, and adult dogs with certain illnesses like diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or cancer are also more susceptible because the presence of other diseases can weaken the immune system.

Demodectic mange is diagnosed with a skin scrape testing or by plucking hairs and examining them under a microscope. SomeDemodex infections are self-limiting, and localized infections may go away on their own. Generalized demodicosis can take several weeks or months to treat, and it can also flare up again a year later. Dogs with generalized demodectic mange require aggressive treatment, usually with oral ivermectin, a medicated shampoo, and antibiotics to help with secondary skin infections. Topical sprays, antihistamines, and CBD oil may be able to help with itchiness. Like with sarcoptic mange, isoxazolines are an effective way to help with generalized demodicosis. In a study performed on dogs with demodectic mange, treatment with oral Bravecto had excellent results1.

How To Prevent Mange In Dogs

There is no definitive way to prevent mange in dogs except to avoid known exposures, although your dog may have some protective effect if he takes an isoxazoline-based flea and tick prevention. If your dog has had demodicosis, then it is best to spay or neuter your dog in order to prevent the chance for them to pass on the genetic predisposition to their offspring. By feeding your dog a healthy, well-balanced diet, you can help boost the strength of your dog’s immune system.  

Coconut oil for dogs is an oil that has many benefits when applied topically or ingested. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that is known to help prevent certain pests from landing on the dog and sometimes can help to even rid them of fleas, ticks, mange mites and other pests.

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Coconut oil is good for dogs and can help aid your pets' digestion, improve their coats, help prevent infection and more. But please note, it is important to follow the proper guidelines. As with most things, too much of even a good thing can end up having negative effects.


The two most common types of mange can present in similar yet different ways. While the clinical signs are alike, sarcoptic mange will cause more intense itching and is transmissible via contact. Demodectic mange may be more difficult to treat, especially if the skin lesions are generalized. If your dog is itchy or losing hair, then make sure to contact your veterinarian right away. Early intervention may prevent clinical signs from becoming severe, and you will be able to get faster relief for your furry friend!



1. Efficacy of orally administered fluralaner (Bravecto) or topically applied imidacloprid/moxidectin (Advocate®) against generalized demodicosis in dogs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pmc/articles/PMC4394402/


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Meet The Author 

 Dr. Erica Irish author of Mange in dogs: What You Need To Know

Dr. Erica Irish

Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine

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