As spring arrives, you might find your dog sniffling, scratching, or even losing fur from pesky critters like ticks, mites, dust, pollen – or mange. But what is mange in dogs, anyway? Why does it happen – and how can you deal with it?

Now if your buddy is literally tearing holes in their skin to stop the insane itching, it can be heartbreaking to watch – but luckily mange is treatable and 100% preventable. So here’s what it is and how to treat it. (Plus how tracking where your dog’s off exploring can help prevent it in the first place!)

What is mange?

Mange is a highly contagious skin disease caused by several microscopic species of mites found in other animals.

Importantly, mange is a treatable medical condition, but both you and your other pets are likely to get infected by it as well. (Though in humans, it’s more likely to be a short-term infection.)

  • These mites will burrow through the skin causing intense itching and irritation.
  • The more a dog scratches, the more hair falls out in spots.

Now, some mange mites are normal residents of your dog’s skin and hair, while others are not. However, all mites can cause mild to severe skin infections as the amount of mites and parasites increases.

A Beagle in a garden

Mange is a serious skin disease caused by tiny, microscopic mites that burrow into the skin of mammals.

Cornell Wildlife Health Lab

The two types of mange affecting dogs are sarcoptic (canine scabies) and demodectic.

  • Sarcoptic mange is the most common of the two.
  • Demodectic mange is relatively rare.

Let’s learn a bit more about them below.

Sarcoptic mange in dogs

Sarcoptic mange or canine scabies is a condition in which parasitic mites known as Sarcoptes scabiei burrow into surface of the skin.

  • There, the scabies mites lay eggs which hatch into larvae in about three to 10 days.
  • These then develop into adult mites and reproduce – the lifespan of an adult scabies mite is three to four weeks.

Is sarcoptic mange contagious?

Yes, sarcoptic mange is highly contagious and can be easily be passed from one animal to another. Here are a couple of ways your dog might pick up a bad case of scabies:

  • Direct (skin to skin) contact with an infected animal
  • Sharing items (like bedding) with an infected animal
  • Coming in contact with an infected animal (including wild animals, like foxes) – though this is rarer

💡So if you’ve got a dog that enjoys their outdoor time, it makes sense to stay on top of where they’re off wandering.

Why? Because if you can track your dog anywhere they are, you’re more likely to pick up on them venturing into areas they might come into contact with other infected animals. (Including forests, dog parks, or the neighborhood a few blocks over.)

Two dogs walking through a forest

It’s why dog parents around the world – just like you – are strapping a GPS tracker to their buddies’ collars.

Because with one like the Tractive GPS, you can easily figure out:

(Perfect for your next, stress-free vacation.)

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Can I get scabies from my dog?

Yes. Canine scabies is also a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed from dog to human.

What causes mange in dogs?

The most common cause of sarcoptic mange in dogs is the exposure to an infected animal, as the mites quickly move from animal to animal.

So your buddy might be at higher risk if they’re often visiting:

  • Kennels
  • Dog parks
  • Groomers
  • …or even some vet clinics

All these environments may have a high exposure rate of mange. (Since pets often get close to each other in these areas.) Because sadly, if one dog in a kennel or at the groomers’ is infected, others may get infected too.

Puppies at a kennel looking outward from their cage

Symptoms of sarcoptic mange in dogs

Dogs suffering from scabies or sarcoptic mange may experience the following symptoms:

  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Chewing of the skin
  • Hair loss, especially around the legs and belly
  • Patches of thick, dark skin
  • Redness or rash
  • Scabs or crusty skin
  • Bacterial or yeast infection

In extreme cases, dogs suffering from a severe mange infestation may also have swollen lymph nodes due to inflammation. Or they may become very weak and thin, losing weight and showing signs of lethargy.

How is sarcoptic mange in dogs diagnosed?

To diagnose sarcoptic mange, your vet will take a scraping of the skin and examine it under a microscope to check for mites or their eggs.

Even if no mites are found in the sample, your dog’s symptoms can still be a good indicator that scabies is present.

A team of vets examining a dog at a clinic

How your vet might treat sarcoptic mange in dogs

Your vet can help you successfully treat your dog’s mange condition with the right medication and other treatment methods, based on your buddy’s symptoms.

  • They might begin by prescribing you an anti-mite treatment which can take the form of a dip, topical, or oral medication. Your dog may require a combination of these.
  • Be sure to follow the vet’s instructions carefully and give your dog the full course of treatment; otherwise scabies may persist.
  • Your vet will follow up any treatment plan with a few more rounds of skin scrapes to see if your dog is infection-free or in the need of more treatment.

You may also need to treat other pets in your household, as well as wash or remove any bedding or toys that may be infested. 

Your vet may also recommend that you isolate your dog to prevent the spread of mange from pet to pet or human to human.

Demodectic mange in dogs

Another, less common type of mange in dogs is demodectic mange. It’s caused by the cylindrical, cigar-shaped mite with eight legs known as Demodex canis.

  • Unlike scabies, these mites are always present (even on healthy dogs).
  • They reside in hair follicles rather than burrow into the skin. Normally, they cause no harm.
  • It’s only when a dog’s immune system is compromised that demodectic mites are able to grow out of control (i.e. reproduce rapidly) which causes the problem.
A sick dog sitting with a blue ice pack on their head

Which dogs are susceptible to demodectic mange?

Demodectic mange occurs most often in dogs with a weak or immature immune system. That’s why it’s most common in:

Is demodectic mange contagious?

The good news is that demodectic mange is not contagious to other pets or humans.

  • It can only be passed from mother dogs to their puppies in the first few days of life.
  • Since the mite is found on all dogs, they’re not a threat to dogs with a healthy immune system.
A mother dog nursing a litter of puppies

Symptoms of demodectic mange in dogs

Demodectic mange can take on a variety of forms – which can affect the kinds of symptoms your buddy experiences. In general, watch out for signs like lethargy or weakness, i.e. if your dog seems less active than before or seems less enthusiastic around walks or playtime.

Otherwise, you might be dealing with:

  • Localized demodectic mange, which includes patches of hair loss and scaly skin show up mainly on your dog’s face.
  • Generalized demodectic mange, which includes infections in parts of your dog’s body besides their face. Secondary infections may cause your dog to become smelly and more itchy.
  • Demodectic pododermatitis, or when demodectic mites affect only your dog’s paws. Dogs that are prone to this condition include Old English Sheepdogs and Shar Peis.

💡Tracking your dog’s everyday activity can actually help you pick up on a sickness early. It’s even recommended by vets, since a drop in your dog’s daily exercise can signal something is wrong.

sick dog laying in bed under sheets

Keep track of your dog’s energy levels, especially how long they are able to walk.

If you notice significant declines, it could be a sign of pain, heart disease, or other illness.”

VCA Animal Hospitals

Which is where your trusty Tractive device comes in handy again – picking up on your buddy’s movements throughout the day with its built-in motion detector.

Dog running with tennis ball in mouth in the grass, Tractive GPS app in foreground

Which can help you figure out:

  • What’s a normal level of activity for your dog
  • How active your dog is compared to other, similar dogs around the world
  • Whether there’s an abnormal spike or dip in your dog’s activity. (Which could indicate a sickness, injury, or even infection.)
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How is demodectic mange diagnosed & treated?

Much like sarcoptic mange in dogs, your vet might take a skin scraping from your dog and examine it under a microscope to diagnose demodectic mange.

If a large number of mites are found, the diagnosis is confirmed. Your vet might also use a skin biopsy to diagnose the condition.

Depending on your dog’s condition, your vet will advise you on the best course of treatment. They might prescribe you medication, topical ointments, and medicated baths.

brown dog in the bath getting his head washed with shampoo

⚠️ Make sure to follow your vet’s instructions to the T and only use products built for dogs’ skin. Shampoos that are designed for humans might be harmful to dogs and contain ingredients toxic to them.

How to prevent mange in dogs

Now unfortunately, there aren’t any known preventative measures against mange. But there are a few simple things you can do to avoid it.

Avoid contact with infected animals or humans

If you suspect a friend or neighbor’s dog has mange, keep your dog away. You won’t be able to tell which type of mange the dog has so your pup could get infected. (Which means rescheduling a few of those dog park or puppy play dates until everyone’s been to the vet.)

Three dogs playing with a ball at a park

💡If you’re worried about your dog sneaking off unsupervised, we’ve got you covered. With your trusty Tractive device, you can check where they’re spending most of their timewith just a glance at your phone.

Your tracker’s Location History logs in your dog’s favorite hiding, hunting, or hangout spots over 24 hours (or 365 days on a Premium subscription!)

Perfect for knowing exactly where to look first in case they go missing.

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Be extra mindful of your dog’s hygiene

It might sound obvious – but don’t skip out on bathtime! (Yes, no matter how much your dog protests.) Give your dog regular baths and wash bedding and collars. This may help prevent your dog from getting mange.

Read more: 5 Easy Dog Grooming Tips You Can Do At Home: The Ultimate Guide For Dog Parents

Stay on top of your dog’s diet & exercise

Some cases of mange in dogs might occur because their immune system isn’t functioning too well. Which is where it makes sense to take steps to improve your dog’s health in general. (Starting with monitoring their meals – and how active they are.)

So make sure to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule, with lots of water and healthy meals, plus plenty of exercise. Include a high dosage of vitamin C and A, zinc, vitamin E in your dog’s diet.

Your vet could also prescribe you medically-approved dog food options to help keep your buddy healthy.

💡Besides, if you’re tracking your dog’s activity – it can actually help you stay motivated to stick to their daily exercise.

Your Tractive tracker’s Activity Monitoring also comes equipped with a global leaderboard – so you can have a little healthy competition with dogs around the world to see who’s been the most active.

Plus, like in the case of this dog parent, actually stay accountable to your dog’s daily walks and exercise.

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Wrapping up: How to deal with mange on dogs like a pro

Mange in dogs is a serious skin condition caused by different types of tiny, parasitic mites. An infestation of mites on dogs – mange – can lead to uncomfortable itching, scratching, hair loss, infection and other unpleasant symptoms. Extreme cases of mange can even be life-threatening.

Where your dog might pick up a bad case of mange

Besides, your dog is most likely to pick it up from dog parks, vet clinics, kennels, and other places they’re most likely to come in contact with other infected animals.

A pair of dogs playing in the grass

When to go to a vet

Safe to say, mange is painful – both for the dog affected and their humans to witness. So make sure to get your dog to a vet in case you notice:

  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Chewing of the skin
  • Hair loss, especially around the legs and belly
  • Patches of thick, dark skin
  • Redness or rash
  • Scabs or crusty skin
  • Bacterial or yeast infection

Preventing mange in dogs

Luckily, mange is treatable and many dogs are able to fully recover from mange with proper care and treatment. Including:

  • Tracking where your dog’s been off wandering. (Especially to any mite- or tick-infested areas.)
  • Monitoring your dog’s everyday activity, especially if they seem more reluctant around playtime. (Which could be one of the first signs they’re not doing so well, health-wise.)

All of which you can get on one device – built with love for dogs and dog parents alike, as well as for your peace of mind.

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Plus with all the rough and tumble adventures your dog might get up to outdoors, the Tractive DOG XL Adventure edition comes with:

  • Bite-proof, fiberglass-reinforced casing
  • A 30-day battery life
  • A 100% waterproof build

So you can hike, swim, run, or just explore the outdoors with your dog – completely stress-free.

Always know where your dog is

Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your dog too.

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Curious how to deal with mange in dogs at home? Here are a couple of tips from Dr. Andrew Jones from Veterinary Secrets:

And if you’ve liked this post, share it with a friend or a loved one – and let’s help build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends together.