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 and other canines, but it can occur in other domestic and wild animals.

Similar skin infestations in humans are not usually called mange but Demodicosis which may have a rosacea-like appearance.

The mites embed themselves in the hair follicles or skin, depending on the type. Both detection and treatment can be difficult and generally require consultation with a veterinarian.

Two types of mites produce canine mange, and each type has characteristic symptoms.

Demodectic (demodex) mange

Demodectic Mange is commonly referred to as red mange, demo mange or demodex 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 called demodicosis mange, it is caused by a sensitivity to and overpopulation of demodex canis (pictured below) as the animal's immune system is unable to keep the mites in check.


This is a mite that occurs naturally in low numbers in the hair follicles, around the face and other areas of the body of most dogs. In many, these mites never cause problems. However, 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. Small patches of demodicosis often correct themselves over time as the dog's immune system matures, although treatment is usually recommended.

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. It most commonly appears first on the face, around the eyes, or at the corners of the mouth, and on the forelimbs and paws. Approximately 10% of localized demodicosis cases will progress to generalized demodicosis. Enlarged lymph nodes are a bad sign -- often foretelling generalized mange.


A dog with skin irritation and hair loss on its front leg caused by mange

In the more severe form, hair loss can occur in patches all over the body and might be accompanied by crusting, pain, enlarged lymph nodes, and deep skin infections.

Demodectic mange is not generally contagious to people, other animals, or even other dogs (except from mother to pup); these mites thrive only on very specific hosts (dogs) and transmission usually occurs only from the mother to nursing puppies during the first few days after birth.

The transmission of these mites from mother to pup is normal (which is why the mites are normal inhabitants of the dog's skin), but some individuals are sensitive to the mites, which can lead to the development of demodectic mange.

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.

There is strong evidence that a predilection for juvenile demodectic mange is inherited, and those suffering from this form should not be bred.

Demodectic mange also occurs in other domestic and wild animals. The mites are specific to their hosts, and each mammal species is host to one or two unique species of Demodex mites.

There are two types of Demodectic mange in cats. Demodex cati causes follicular mange, similar to that seen in dogs, though it is much less common. Demodex gatoi is a more superficial form of mange, causes an itchy skin condition, and is contagious amongst cats.


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.

Demodectic mange in dogs can also be managed with ivermectins, although there are few countries which license these drugs, which are given by mouth, daily, for this use.

Ivermectin is used most frequently; collie-like herding breeds often do not tolerate this drug due to a defect in the blood-brain barrier, though not all of them have this defect. Other avermectin drugs that can be used include doramectin and milbemycin. Ivermectin Usage

Cats with Demodex gatoi must be treated with weekly or bi-weekly sulfurated lime rinses. Demodex cati is treated similarly to canine demodicosis.

Sarcoptic mange

Sarcoptic Mange is the less serious, yet highly Contagious, type of mange. Sarcoptic mange, aka "Scabies," has zoonotic potential, which means you can get it from your pet. Mange in humans is easier to get rid of.

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.


However, the mites do cause extreme itching, followed by flaky or scabby dandruff and loss of hair. It doesn't occur often in cats and is generally short-lived if present. Steps to treat the itching and irritation due to red fox mange/Sarcoptic mange are however recommended. 

Also known as 'canine scabies', sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious infestation of Sarcoptes scabiei canis, a burrowing mite. The canine sarcoptic mite can also infest humans and cats, pigs, horses, sheep and various other species.


Puppy with Sarcoptic mange

These mites dig into and through the skin, causing intense itching and crusting that can quickly become infected. Hair loss and crusting frequently appear first on elbows and ears. Skin damage can occur from the dog's intense scratching and biting and secondary skin infection is common. Dogs with chronic sarcoptic mange are often in poor condition.

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 

Cheyletiella is a mild skin condition caused by the Cheyletiella species of mites,  also known as walking dandruff. It affects puppies and is caused by a large reddish mite that can be seen under a magnifying glass. This mange is identified by the dandruff dusting that occurs over the dog's head, neck, and back. Walking dandruff is highly contagious but short-lived. It causes mild itching. The mite that causes the mange dies a short time after leaving the host.

Cheyletiella are large mites that live on epidermal layers of dogs, cats, rabbits, humans, and other animals.


Cheyletiella mite

They 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. The disease can be without symptoms or can include intense itching, scaly skin and hair loss. This type of animal mange can be easily treated with our Pets'BestRx™ Mitactin formula.


Affected dogs need to be isolated from other dogs and their bedding, and places they have occupied must be thoroughly cleaned. Other dogs in contact with a diagnosed case should be evaluated and treated.

There are a number of parasiticidal treatments useful in treating canine scabies. Sulfurated lime rinses applied weekly or bi-weekly are effective. Selamectin is licensed for treatment by veterinary prescription in several countries; it is applied as a drip-on directly to the skin. Unlicensed, but frequently used, ivermectin, given by mouth for two to four weekly treatments; this drug is not safe to use on some collie-like herding dogs, however. Other avermectin drugs are also effective, but none is licensed for use on dogs.


Veterinarians usually attempt diagnosis with skin scrapings from multiple areas, which are then examined under a microscope for mites. Since they may be present in relatively low numbers and are often removed by dogs chewing at themselves, they may be difficult to find. As a result, diagnosis in Sarcoptic mange is often based on symptoms rather than actual confirmation of the presence of mites.

A common and simple way of determining if a dog has mange is if it displays what is called a "Pedal-Pinna reflex", which is when the dog moves one of its hind legs in a scratching motion as the ear is being manipulated and scratched gently by the examiner; because the mites proliferate on the ear margins in nearly all cases at some point, this method works over 95% of the time.

It is helpful in cases where all symptoms of mange are present but no mites are observed with a microscope. In some countries, a serologic test is available that may be useful in diagnosis.

For demodectic mange, properly performed deep skin scrapings generally allow the veterinarian to identify the microscopic mites. However because the mite is a normal inhabitant of the dog's skin, the presence of the mites does not conclusively mean the dog suffers from demodex. Rather abnormally high numbers of the mite are more useful. In breeds such as the West Highland White Terrier, relatively minor skin irritation which would otherwise be considered allergy should be carefully scraped because of the predilection of these dogs to demodectic mange. Skin scrapings may be used to follow the progress of treatment in demodectic mange.

The Demodectic mange mite lives deep in the skin and is probably found in many species but is not normally a problem unless the animal in unhealthy and so has poor resistance or immunity.

It is fairly common in young dogs causing pimples and sometimes slight irritation which he will usually grow out of. Sometimes however it can spread and cause irritation and infection by bacteria may follow. If your dog gets severe generalised mange it is best to get the services of your vet.

Good raw food based nutrition is essential with added zinc (10 to 30mg depending on size) (pumpkin seeds are a good source), vitamins C and E to help your dog heal himself.

Echinacea will help boost the immune system in addition give 2 to 3 times daily. The amount depending on the preparation type. We can supply tablets or tincture

The following homeopathic remedies can help:

If your dog is itchy with an oily smelly coat try Sulphur or Psorinum 30 c twice daily for 3 days.

Use Sulphur if he seems to be hot and seeks a cool spot to sit in.

Use Psorinum for a chillier dog.

Silicea is a good start for the less smelly cases.

For Sarcoptic mange or the similar types where the mites are more superficial, use either: a) Yellow dock tea or b) Lavender oil diluted in almond oil 1:10 daily until the condition improves.

However in dogs it can be zoonotic (spread to man) so it may be safer to use a Selamectin ("Stronghold") spot-on treatment for this condition which is only available from your vet.

Two things to remember:

  1. Ensure you have your dog on a well balanced, healthy diet

  2. Disinfect bedding where mites can survive for long periods off the dog.