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Mange in dogs  Sarcoptic - Demodectic - Cheyletiella

mange on puppy
Generalized Demodectic Mange and Staph Infection
Picture Courtesy of Tulsa Boxer Rescue


What is mange?

Mange is a skin irritation caused by parasitic mites which burrow under the skin. Some invade the hair follicles. Mites are tiny eight legged arthropods. There are three varieties of canine mange. Demodectic mange (Red Mange), Sarcoptic mange (Scabies) and Cheyletiella mange (Walking Dandruff). Each are caused by a different mite.

Sarcoptic and cheyletiella mange are highly contagious, demodectic is not.

What are the symptoms of Mange?

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic Mange is also known as Scabies. Symptoms may vary but generally will include hair loss and intense itching. The mites prefer to invade areas of the skin that have less hair such as the belly, chest, ears, armpits and elbows. These mites cause crusting, small red bumps and sores that can become infected. Dogs with scabies chew and bite at themselves and scratch with great ferocity.

Sarcoptic mange is contagious to both dogs and humans.


Demodectic Mange

Demodectic Mange, also known as Red Mange and demodicosis is caused by the demodex canis mite. Demiodicosis is the name of the disease. Demodectic Mange is not contagious to other animals or humans.

The Demodex mite is found on the skin of all dogs. They are passed on from mother to puppy. However, if the dog or puppy becomes run down or immunosuppressed, for example, because of illness, stress or malnutrition then the immune system cannot keep the mites under control and large numbers of them cause the disease demodicosis. This is complicated by the fact that Demodex itself is thought to suppress the normal immune response.

Localized demodectic mange

Localized cases of demodectic mange usually do not cause much itching but may cause sores on the dog's skin, redness, scaly areas, hair loss, or any combination of these. It most commonly appears first on the face, around the eyes, or at the corners of the mouth, the ears and on the front legs and paws. Secondary bacterial infection may cause complications. Localized demodicosis usually affects no more than one or two areas of the skin.

Signs of generalized demodicosis may include patches that appear on the head, legs and trunk and can eventually spread all over the dog's body. These patches generally develop into large areas of hair loss, and the breakdown of skin leads to the formation of crusty oozing sores.

The picture at the top of the page depicts a boxer with a severe case of demodicosis with a secondary bacterial infection.

Juvenile demodicosis which occurs in puppies is sometimes genetically inherited. Some breeds are more susceptible than others. Included are: Afghan Hound, Alaskan Malamute, Airedale Terrier, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, English Bulldog, Great Dane, Old English Sheep Dog, Shar-pei, Scottish Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, Weimaraner and West Highland White Terrier.

Juvenile demodicosis is easier to cure than adult onset demodicosis. As the puppy's immune system matures it copes better with the overload of mites. Healthy puppies with localized demodicosis often improve without treatment but supportive care is recommended such as balanced and healthy nutrition, giving deworming medication and keeping up to date with vaccinations. Sometimes antibiotics are required for secondary infections.

Adult onset generalized demodicosis is not usually associated with genetic predisposition but sometimes as a result of other conditions such as cancer, liver disease, kidney disease or steroid use and therefore may be more difficult to treat successfully. Prognosis often depends on the underlying disease.

Cheyletiella Mange

Cheyletiella Mange is also known as walking dandruff. The mite is non burrowing and lives on the surface of the skin. It affects mainly puppies and is caused by a large reddish mite that can be seen under a magnifying glass. It will  present as a bad case of dandruff over the head, neck and back. It causes itching which may range from mild to moderate. Not the extreme intense itching that is seen with sarcoptic mange.

The mite is highly contagious spreading by direct contact with other animals. It is frequently spread in boarding kennels, dog grooming establishments and shelters.  


Diagnosis and Treatment of Mange in Dogs

It is essential that you consult with your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment

Your vet may perform a skin scraping from an area of hair loss and look at this under the microscope. Often in the case of sarcoptic mange the mites may not be detected. If the skin scraping test is negative that does not necessarily prove that your dog does not have them it's just that they are difficult to detect. Your vet will base diagnosis on presenting symptoms and history.

Treatment for demodectic mange is complicated and often lengthy. Generalized Demodectic mange is usually treated with topical medications such as shampoos and dips. Mitaban (Amitraz) is usually used as a dip for canines.


Ivermectin injections may be given over a period of time. Some dogs (especially herding dogs) have a genetically determined sensitivity to Ivermectin and may react adversely.

Additional diagnostic tests may be required for adult dogs that have severe generalized demodicosis to discover the underlying cause of the weak immune system.

Antibiotics may be prescribed for secondary infections.

Protection against Mange in dogs


Advocate or Advantage Multi for dogs is a spot on treatment which offers broad protection against common internal and external parasites in dogs.

In some countries the product is called Advocate and in others it is called Advantage multi. It is marketed under Advantage Multi in the US, Canada and New Zealand.

Control of sarcoptic mange in dogs
Control of Demodex mites in dogs
For more information please go to the
Bayer Advocate Website

Advocate has been shown to eliminate 100% of sarcoptic mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) after a single dose. Monthly application of Advocate will control any subsequent sarcoptic mite infestation. Advocate, applied at monthly intervals for two to four treatments, is highly effective in treating generalised Demodectic mange.



This is the boxer shown at the top
of the page after treatment

Picture Courtesy of Tulsa Boxer Rescue

Other Articles that may interest you:

Itchy Scratchy Dog - Atopic Dermatitis

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Ringworm in Dogs (has pictures)


This article has not been written by a veterinarian & should not be considered a replacement for a veterinarian visit. The articles are provided for informative purposes only. While great care has been made in the creation of these articles, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or omissions on these pages. If in any doubt whatsoever, seek professional medical advice from your veterinarian.

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