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Uncovering the Causes of Mange in Dogs



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Mange is a skin condition that affects dogs of all ages and breeds. It is caused by various factors, including parasitic mites, bacteria, and fungi.

This article will discuss the primary causes of mange in dogs and provide insights into why it occurs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mange is a skin condition that affects dogs and is caused by several factors.
  • Mange in dogs is caused by different types of microscopic mites—Demodex canis for Demodectic mange, Sarcoptes scabiei for Sarcoptic mange, and Otodectes cynotis for Otodectic mange—that infest the skin or hair follicles, often facilitated by factors like direct contact with an infected animal, a weakened immune system, poor hygiene, and certain genetic predispositions.
  • Early detection and treatment are crucial in managing mange in dogs.

Causes of Mange in Dogs

Dog Mange Causes and Prevention
  • Infestation by tiny mites: Demodex mites cause Demodectic mange, and Sarcoptes scabiei mites cause Sarcoptic mange.
  • Direct contact with an infected animal: Dogs can contract Sarcoptic mange through direct contact with an infected animal.
  • Weak immune system: Demodectic mange is more common in dogs with a weakened immune system, as they are less able to control the mite population.
  • Poor nutrition: A poor diet can weaken a dog’s immune system, making them more susceptible to mange.
  • Lack of hygiene: Dirty living conditions can increase the risk of mange.
  • Genetic predisposition: Some breeds may be more susceptible to certain types of mange.
  • Age: Puppies are more prone to Demodectic mange because their immune systems are not fully developed.

Understanding Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange, also known as demodicosis, is a type of mange that occurs when there is an overpopulation of Demodex mites in a dog’s hair follicles.

These mites are normally present in small numbers on a dog’s skin and are harmless, but in some cases, a dog’s immune system can become compromised and the population of the mites can grow out of control, leading to demodectic mange.

The exact causes of demodectic mange are not fully understood, but it’s believed that genetics may play a role, as there are certain breeds of dogs that are more susceptible to the condition. In addition, stress and a weakened immune system may also contribute to the development of demodectic mange.

Demodectic mange can affect dogs of any age, but it is most commonly seen in puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems. The condition is not contagious to other animals or humans.

Dog Breeds Prone to Demodectic Mange:American Staffordshire TerrierBoxerBulldog
 ChihuahuaChinese Shar-PeiPit Bull

How Demodectic Mites Contribute to Mange in Dogs

Demodectic mange is caused by an overpopulation of Demodex mites in a dog’s hair follicles. These mites are normally found on a dog’s skin and are harmless in small numbers, but when their population grows out of control, they can cause mange.

The mites burrow into the hair follicles and sebaceous glands, leading to inflammation and irritation. This leads to hair loss, scaly skin, and redness. In severe cases, the inflammation and irritation can become infected, leading to pustules and crusty lesions on the skin.

Unraveling Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is a contagious skin disease caused by tiny mites. These mites burrow under the skin, causing intense itching and irritation for dogs. The condition is highly contagious and can easily spread between canines.

The main trigger for sarcoptic mange is direct contact with an infected animal. The mites can thrive on an infected dog for weeks, multiplying rapidly and spreading to other dogs that come into contact with the infested dog. Sarcoptic mange can also be acquired indirectly, through contact with contaminated objects such as bedding or grooming tools.

Once a dog is exposed to sarcoptic mange, the mites can take up to six weeks to start causing symptoms. The most common signs of sarcoptic mange include intense itching, hair loss, and scabbing. Dogs may also develop secondary skin infections due to the constant scratching and licking.

It is important to identify and treat sarcoptic mange as early as possible, as the condition can quickly worsen and spread to other animals and humans. Veterinarians can diagnose sarcoptic mange through skin scrapings and microscopic examination, and treatment usually involves prescription medication to kill the mites and soothe the skin.

To prevent sarcoptic mange, dog owners should avoid contact with infected animals and keep their pets away from contaminated areas. Regular grooming and cleaning of bedding and grooming tools can also help to minimize the risk of infection. Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial to managing sarcoptic mange and preventing further spread of the condition.

Recognizing Symptoms of Mange in Dogs

Mange is a skin condition caused by mites that can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. It can be difficult to diagnose mange in its early stages since its symptoms can mimic those of other skin conditions. However, there are specific signs that dog owners can look out for that may indicate the presence of mange.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of mange in canines:

  • Hair loss, often in patches or localized areas, which can worsen over time
  • Intense itching, scratching, or gnawing at affected areas
  • Redness, inflammation, or irritation of the skin
  • Scaly or crusty patches on the skin, often with a rough or bumpy texture
  • Unpleasant odor, especially in severe cases of mange

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is essential to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Mange can spread quickly to other areas of the body or to other animals, so early detection and prompt treatment are critical for effective management.

Diagnosing Mange in Dogs

Diagnosing mange in dogs typically involves a thorough examination of the dog’s skin and coat. A veterinarian will often perform skin scrapings to collect samples for microscopic examination.

These scrapings can reveal the presence of mites or other organisms that may be contributing to the dog’s symptoms. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis.

It is important to note that the symptoms of mange can resemble those of other skin conditions, such as allergies or bacterial infections. Therefore, accurate diagnosis by a veterinarian is crucial to ensuring proper treatment and management of the condition.

If you suspect your dog may have mange, it is important to schedule a veterinary appointment as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can help prevent the condition from worsening and causing further discomfort for your pet.

Treating Dog Mange

There are several treatment options available for managing mange in dogs, and the choice of treatment depends on the type of mange and the severity of the condition. Treatment is usually given to eliminate the mites responsible for causing mange and alleviate the symptoms associated with the condition.

  • Topical treatments: These are the most common treatments for mange. They involve applying creams, ointments, or medicated shampoos directly to the affected areas of the dog’s skin.

These products contain various chemicals, such as benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, and salicylic acid, which help kill the mites and soothe the skin. Topical treatments can be effective for mild cases of mange, but they may not be as effective in severe cases.

  • Medications: If topical treatments do not work, veterinarians may prescribe medications to manage mange. These medications come in various forms, such as oral tablets or injections, and are designed to kill the mites responsible for causing mange. These medications may have side effects, so it is important to follow the veterinarian’s instructions when administering them.
  • Home remedies: There are several home remedies people use to treat mange in dogs. These include soaking the affected areas of the dog’s skin with borax or hydrogen peroxide, applying olive oil or neem oil to the skin, and adding apple cider vinegar to the dog’s food or water.

While some of these remedies may have some benefit, it is important to consult a veterinarian before using them.

  • Holistic approaches: Some people prefer to take a holistic approach to mange treatment. This involves using natural products and supplements to boost the dog’s immune system and improve their overall health.

Holistic treatments may include raw diets, herbal supplements, and essential oils. While these treatments may have some benefits, it is important to consult a veterinarian before using them.

Preventing Mange in Dogs

Mange in dogs can be a distressing condition for both the pet and their owner. However, it can be prevented by taking certain measures. Here are some tips to help dog owners minimize the risk of mange in their pets:

Identify and Address Underlying Health Issues:

One of the primary causes of mange in dogs is an underlying health issue that weakens the immune system. To prevent mange, it is crucial to keep the dog’s immune system healthy by regular visits to the vet and by providing the animal with balanced nutrition.

Owners should also ensure that their dogs receive the necessary vaccinations to prevent infections and other illnesses.

Ensure Regular Grooming:

Grooming is an essential practice that keeps dogs clean and free of parasites that can cause mange. Regular grooming such as brushing and bathing can help owners detect any potential skin problems early and prevent mange mites from multiplying and causing an infestation.

Regular grooming also helps to prevent debris and dirt from accumulating on the dog’s skin, which can cause irritation and promote the development of mange.

Implement Preventive Measures:

Dog owners can also implement preventive measures such as applying flea and tick prevention products, using anti-parasitic shampoos, and keeping the living area clean. This can help prevent the spread of mites that cause mange and keep the dog’s coat healthy.

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups:

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential in preventing mange in dogs. A vet can detect any underlying health issues that may be weakening the immune system and causing the dog to become susceptible to mange. A vet can also provide treatment for any skin infections or other conditions that may contribute to the development of mange.

By following these preventive measures, dog owners can help keep their beloved pets healthy and free from the distressing condition of mange.

Maintaining Canine Health and Hygiene

Mange in dogs is often caused by poor health and hygiene practices. Therefore, maintaining a healthy and clean living environment is essential for preventing mange in dogs. Additionally, regular grooming, proper nutrition, and routine veterinary check-ups can all contribute to preventing mange in dogs.


Regular grooming is an essential aspect of maintaining good canine health and hygiene. Frequent bathing, brushing, and trimming of hair can help prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris, which can lead to skin irritations and infestations.

Paying attention to your dog’s skin and coat can also help identify any potential issues early on, allowing for prompt treatment.


Proper nutrition is also critical for maintaining a healthy immune system, which can help prevent mange in dogs. Feeding your dog a balanced and nutrient-rich diet can help ensure that they receive all the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy skin and coat.

Veterinary Check-Ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for maintaining your dog’s overall health. During these visits, your veterinarian can identify any potential health concerns before they become more significant issues, including mange.

They can also recommend preventive measures and treatment options specifically tailored to your dog’s needs.

By implementing these health and hygiene practices, you can help minimize the risk of mange in your dog. However, it’s essential to remain vigilant and seek prompt veterinary attention if you suspect your dog may have mange.


Q: What is mange?

A: Mange is a skin condition commonly found in dogs that is caused by mites infesting the skin.

Q: What are the main causes of mange?

A: The main causes of mange in dogs are infestation by mites, weakened immune system, poor nutrition, and stress.

Q: How can I tell if my dog has mange?

A: Common signs of mange in dogs include hair loss, itching, redness, scaly skin, and the presence of mites on the skin.

Q: How is mange diagnosed in dogs?

A: Mange is typically diagnosed through skin scrapings, microscopic examination, and a physical examination by a veterinarian.

Q: What are the treatment options for mange?

A: Treatment options for mange in dogs include topical treatments, medications, and home remedies. It is best to consult with a veterinarian for proper treatment.

Q: Can mange in dogs be prevented?

A: While it may not be possible to completely prevent mange, there are measures dog owners can take to minimize the risk, such as maintaining good overall health, hygiene practices, and regular veterinary check-ups.


Mange can be a challenging condition for dogs and their owners to deal with. It is caused by various factors, including the presence of mites, poor hygiene, and compromised immune systems. Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial in managing mange in dogs.

In addition to treatment, preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of mange in dogs. Regular grooming, proper nutrition, and routine veterinary check-ups are essential for maintaining canine health and hygiene.

By understanding the causes of mange and taking proactive steps to prevent it, dog owners can help their pets stay healthy and comfortable.

However, if a dog does develop mange, it is essential to seek veterinary care. With proper treatment, most cases of mange can be effectively managed, allowing dogs to live happy and healthy lives.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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