What Is Mange in Dogs?

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Mange doesn’t just affect stray animals; it can afflict your dog, too. Learn how to recognize the signs of sarcoptic mange and what you can do to treat and control it.

Brown Labrador on exam table at vet clinic

You may have heard someone refer to a dog as “mangy,” but did you know that mange is an actual condition in dogs? You’ll usually see the most dramatic cases of sarcoptic mange (missing patches of fur and itchy, red skin) in stray or homeless dogs, but mange can happen to beloved family dogs, too.

What Is Mange in Dogs?

“Sarcoptic mange” is a term used to describe a skin infection caused by parasitic mites. Also called scabies, sarcoptic mange occurs when the Sarcoptes scabiei mites burrow into a dog’s skin and cause infection. Sarcoptic mange in dogs is highly contagious, both for other dogs and via dog-to-human transmission.

How Do Dogs Get Mange?

Dogs generally get sarcoptic mange, or scabies, from another dog with the disease. Your dog is more likely to get mange in places where they come into close contact with other dogs — like doggie daycares, dog parks and groomers.

Hair loss showing scaly skin on dog’s neck area

What Are the Symptoms of Mange in Dogs?

Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the type of mange your dog might have. The symptoms below can also indicate other medical issues, so it’s important to get your dog checked out and get an accurate diagnosis.

Symptoms of sarcoptic mange may include:

  • Frequent or constant scratching
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Missing patches of fur or hair loss (alopecia)
  • Lesions or scaly, crusty skin, especially around the ears
  • Extreme discomfort for the dog

How Do You Treat Mange in Dogs?

Scabies is diagnosed through a skin scrape, though the mites can be hard to find with this method. If a dog is already displaying many of the typical symptoms, your vet may begin treatment. Treatment includes an oral or topical medication, but it’s also very important to clean your house and any bedding your dog may have come into contact with because these mites can live in the environment for two to three weeks. Additionally, it is important to clean brushes and any other grooming equipment and make sure all pets in the home are treated.

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