Mange in Dogs: Demodectic and Sarcoptic (Scabies)

The most common forms of mange seen in dogs are known as demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange. The cause of these skin infestations are two different types of skin mites, demodex and sarcoptic.

Demodex is by far the more common form seen in clinical veterinary practice. Every healthy pet and mammal has a low level of demodex that lives on the skin. When the immune system is compromised or suppressed, some genetically prone animals will have an overgrowth of demodex mites on the skin which can often lead to hair loss, crusting and scabbing. While this can occur in pets of any age, overgrowth of demodex mites most commonly occurs in pets under the age of one. In many circumstances only a few areas are involved around the head and legs, and the pet may heal on its own. In other cases a more generalized form develops that can lead to wide spread areas of hair loss and secondary infection. It is important to know that the demodectic form of mange is not contagious to other dogs or people.  However, it is the more severe generalized form that often needs to be treated systemically with medications such as topical mitaban dips applied to the body every 1-2 weeks.

For pets with demodectic mange, your should first bathe your pet with a benzoal peroxide shampoo such as Oxydex shampoo before a dip (such as Mitaban Dip) is applied.  Other dogs are treated with more aggressive medications such as oral Ivermectin (Heartgard Plus or Iverheart Plus) given daily for weeks to months until the demodex is brought under control.  Diagnosis and response to treatment is usually determined by skin scrapes performed at your veterinarian’s office. Revolution flea and heartworm control can help treat sarcoptic mange in dogs and is available at PetMeds

As for the second most common form of mange, unlike demodex, sarcoptic mange (scabies) is an infectious and contagious type of mange mite often gotten from other dogs or unclean environments. Symptoms of sarcoptic mange may include intense itching, scabbing and hair loss of most commonly thinly haired areas of the coat such as the ears, elbows, back hocks and abdomen. While diagnosis is also made by skin scrape, these mites are often difficult to find, so if veterinarians suspect these mites as a cause of intense itching, they will often treat a pet for mange mites before doing a lot of other more expensive diagnostic testing. Treating a pet with scabies may include weekly shampoos and lime-sulfur dips, as well as topical pesticides such as Revolution. All dogs in an affected home will need to be treated due to the contagious nature of sarcoptic mange.

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35 Comments

  1. Alexandra, dog mites can do some minor biting to humans but are species specific. That means they cannot live and reproduce on other species, which includes humans. You won’t pass it in circles. Once it’s host is protected they cannot survive in the environment. Relax

  2. HI Jeanean. Excellent points. Other than transient irritation on people, once the pet is treated appropriately for scabies, then lesions should resolve in people.

  3. How long does it take for Bravecto to work on mange mites? I gave it to my dog about 2 weeks ago and I am not sure if her bald spots are getting better or worse. I have an appointment at the vet for next week, but I would love a little reassurance until then.

  4. Usually the Bravecto should “begin” working over a week or two, but it will take several weeks or a month or two for lesions often to completely go away. Vets and clients also need to keep in mind that it is important to treat the secondary bacterial staph infections that accompany demodex mange, or the skin lesions will also not go away. See your vet for possible script for antibiotics, etc if needed

  5. Hi I have a question for you. My 11 year old cocker/beagle has a large bald spot forming on the middle of his back. I can pull out clumps of hair and can see that it’s a bit scabby/crusty at the skin end of the hair but once the hair comes off the skin looks smooth and not infected at all. He is on nextguard monthly. Is it possible for it to still be mange? Does nextguard work as a preventative for mange or no? Thank you for your time.

  6. Hi SW. I highly doubt its mange given location of lesion and age of dog. Still could be infected hair follicle known as folliculitis which is common to appear this way. You could try topical malaseb shampoo from 1800petmeds locally to area daily, and/or topical coconut oil applied following that. If no help, then best to see vet for proper exam and likely antibiotics, etc

  7. I have a 9 week old puppy with sarcoptic mange (been to the vet and confirmed). Anyone know how long I should wait before reuniting her with her puppy brother after treating them both with Revolution.

  8. HI Christie. I would wait until AFTER the third treatment with revolution to reunite the puppies. Typical treatment course is once every 2 week application of revolution for 3 treatments over 6 weeks to make sure all stages of sarcoptic mange mites are treated.

  9. Can the once monthly trifexis is treat mites?

  10. I have a 9 week old rescue puppy with sarcoptic mange. He’s on Bravecto now for 5 days, still itchy but much better. I’ll be treating my other dog Frontline plus but waiting since she’s already on a topical monthly flea and tick treatment. How long before my kids and my dog can play with it? Thank you!

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