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Mange (from Middle English manjeue, from Old French manjue, from mangier, meaning to eat) is a parasitic infestation of the skin of animals. Common symptoms include hair loss, itching and inflammation, all of which are caused by microscopic mites. Mange is most commonly found in dogs but can occur in other domestic and wild animals.

The term "mange" is used for a variety of skin conditions but in actuality, there are three types of mange:

  • Sarcoptic (also called "scabies")

  •  Demodectic ("red mange")

  •  Cheyletiella ("walking dandruff")

Does My Dog Have Mange?

If he does what is called a "Pedal-Pinna reflex" he may have mange. Try this, gently scratch one of his ears and see if he starts moving one of his hind legs as if he too is scratching the ear. I say gently because if you give it a good scratch, all dogs will move their hind leg and we know all dogs do not have mange. Mites (those nasty little varmints), multiply mainly on the ear and in the folds of it, so in nearly all cases, this method works over 95% of the time. This is helpful in cases where all symptoms of mange are present but no mites are seen with a microscope. In some countries, a serologic test is available that may be useful in diagnosis.

Good raw food based nutrition (with added zinc, 10-30 mg depending on size) is essential  to help your dog heal himself. 

Sarcoptic mange: Caused by the sarcoptes scabiei mite burrowing into the skin. Also known as 'red fox mange' or 'wombat mange,' sarcoptic mange is much easier to cure than Demodectic mange because the sarcoptic mite doesn't burrow as deep into the skin of your pet. Sarcoptic mange is often based on symptoms rather than actual confirmation of the presence of mites. 

Dogs with scabies will tend to have a moth-eaten appearance as clumps of hair begin to fall out.


However, as the condition progresses, the dog will continue to lose hair until it is gone. It can affect canines of all ages and breeds and is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be easily transmitted to people who come into contact with an infected animal.

On a dog, it presents as extreme itchiness, skin rash with reddened, irritated and inflamed skin, scabs and hair loss.  Areas affected on the dog will be the ears, elbows, hocks, abdomen and chest. Skin infections are likely to occur as the dog chews on his body to relieve the intense itching. The moisture combined with bacteria in the environment and the dog's saliva sets him up for bacterial skin infections, commonly known as hot spots.


Yeast can also cause skin infections in dogs with scabies and is fungal in nature and not bacterial. Dogs with skin infections will have a sour or foul smell and will appear to have wet, thickened skin around the infected area. Dogs with chronic sarcoptic mange are often in poor condition.

Treatment options for Sarcoptic mange:

Scabies is another contagious skin disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis. The primary symptom -- an incredibly itchy rash -- results when the female mite burrows into the skin and deposits eggs.

Medicated baths which kill the mite while soothing the skin. During a scabies infection, the dog's immune system will become suppressed, so corticosteroids (Prednisone, Hydrocortisone, Dexamethasone, etc.) for itching relief are NOT ADVISABLE.

Rather, immune boosting nutritional supplements are necessary.  Echinacea used daily for not more than ten days (dosage depends on weight of dog), is advantageous as well as a multi vitamin made for dogs.

For a person who contracts scabies (lice) from an infected animal, intense itching will occur on the inside of the arms, waist and/or chest area and the inside of the wrist. A homemade remedy used to get rid of the mite can be made using common household products purchased locally. 


Although the remedy is used for lice on people, it will not work well on a dog since it would need to stay on for more than an hour to be successful and any dog would lick off the "cure" in no time. 

Demodectic mange: Due to its ability to spread quickly and its susceptibility to secondary bacterial infections, demodex mange is the most serious type of animal mange. Also known as "red mange", it is a skin disease caused by a small mite not visible to the naked eye. This mite lives down in the root of the hair.

All normal dogs have a small population of mites, but only certain animals will get a disease from mite overgrowth. In some cases, the tendency to develop demodectic mange runs in families. Minor cases of demodectic mange usually do not cause much itching but might cause pustules on the dog's skin, redness, scaling, hair loss, or any combination of these.

The disease is seen in two forms in dogs. There is a localized form where only small areas of the skin are affected, and a generalized form where the majority of the body and/or the feet are involved. Symptoms include loss of hair and reddening of the skin. Affected areas may be scabby, crusty and sometimes itchy. Skin infections due to damage by the mite are common and can become so severe that they threaten a dog's life, with ulcers, swelling and fever. Juvenile-onset generalized demodicosis is a familial disease and affected dogs and their parents should not be bred. Diagnosis of demodectic mange is made by examining debris from deep skin scrapings under the microscope. Dogs with generalized disease also require further testing for underlying health problems.

It most commonly appears first on the face, around the eyes, or at the corners of the mouth, and on the forelimbs and paws. About 10% of localized demodicosis cases will progress to the point of becoming generalized demodicosis. Enlarged lymph nodes are a bad sign -- often foretelling generalized mange. In certain situations, such as an under-developed or impaired immune system, intense stress, or malnutrition, the mites can reproduce rapidly, causing symptoms in sensitive dogs that range from mild irritation and hair loss on a small patch of skin to severe and widespread inflammation, secondary infection, and in rare cases, a life-threatening condition.

Some breeds appear to have an increased risk of mild cases as young dogs, including the Afghan Hound, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Chihuahua, Shar Pei, Collie, Dalmatian, Doberman Pinscher, Bulldog, German Shepherd Dog, Great Dane, Old English Sheepdog, American Pit Bull Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Rat Terrier, and Pug.

Treatment options for Demodectic mange: Minor, localized cases are often treated with medicated shampoos and not treated with agents aimed at killing mites as these infestations often resolve within several weeks in young dogs. Demodectic mange with secondary infection is treated with antibiotics and medicated shampoos as well as parasiticidal agents. Amitraz is a parasiticidal rinse that is licensed for use in many countries for treating canine demodicosis. It is applied weekly or biweekly, for several weeks, until no mites can be detected by skin scrapings. 

Cheyletiella mange: "In our practice we actually see more cases of Cheyletiella mites "walking dandruff" than fleas! I am not sure of the reason, except that with the advent of newer, safer, more effective methods of flea control, the majority of these products do not eradicate Cheyletiella as did older pyrethrin-based products. Because this mite seems to have gained a foothold, be sure to check for it in all pruritic patients." Alice Jeromin, DVM, Dipl. ACVD

These mites do not burrow into the skin but live in the keratin level. Their entire 21-day life cycle is on one host. They cannot survive off the host for more than 10 days. Cheyletiellosis is highly contagious mange disease and it is transferred by direct contact with an affected animal. You might become aware of these mites when your dog begins rubbing his face and sneezing quite regularly.

He may also present with hair loss around the eyes and nose, giving that balding appearance. Some dogs might not show any signs while other signs are itching intensely with scales and extensive hair loss. It may also affect the areas of the neck, head and the dog’s back. This is a highly contagious mite often found in kennels. They stay mainly on the back of a dog and seldom burrow. Their life cycle is 21 days with adult females able to live off the host for up to 10 days.

Treatment options for Cheyletiella mange: Weekly bathing in pyrethrin shampoo, lime sulfur dips every five to seven days for three weeks, fipronil spray one spritz/lb body weight repeated again in three weeks, selamectin topically one dose every 15 days for a total of three doses. If using Ivermectin pay strict attention to the following information:

Ivermectin 200 micrograms/kg every week for three weeks (your dog must be heartworm negative, not an older dog or a herding breed, or a mixed breed with dominant white paws), milbemycin 2 mg/kg once weekly for three weeks (one study treated for up to nine weeks). Ivermectin is "toxic to Collies." -Richard F. Burroughs, MC, USA; Dirk M. Elston, MD

 Canine Scabies

The environment must be treated with a house and carpet spray such as those that are used for fleas. Remember to treat any pet exposed to the affected animal and not just the affected animal.