Mange (sarcoptes mite) in dogs

isolated dog

Overview

  • Mange is a skin condition caused by the 'sarcoptes' mite.
  • Sarcoptes mites are tiny skin parasites that burrow under the skin, cause an intense itch, crusty skin, and hair loss.
  • Symptoms of mange are often severe and get worse over time.
  • Mange is highly contagious and is most commonly caught from infected dogs and foxes.
  • Book an appointment with your vet if you think your dog might have mange – they will be able to prescribe a treatment to kill the mites and soothe your dog's skin.
  • Contrary to popular belief, people cannot get scabies from dogs with mange.

What is mange?

Mange is a skin condition caused by a tiny mite called ‘Sarcoptes scabiei’. Mange mites burrow under the skin, cause an intense itch, pain, crusty skin and hair loss. Mange mites live on dogs and foxes and are very contagious. Contrary to popular belief, people cannot catch scabies from a dog with mange.

Symptoms

Mange mites often start by affecting the ears, elbows, hocks (ankles), but in severe cases can spread across the whole body. Left untreated, mange can lead to deep skin infections and make a dog very poorly. Symptoms include:

Treatment

Treatment for mange is relatively straightforward and often includes:

A product to kill the mites

  • Your vet will prescribe a treatment to kill the mange mites.
  • Usually available as a ‘spot-on’, tablet or shampoo.
  • Your dog may need two or three treatments (a few weeks apart), to make sure all the mites are killed and don’t come back.
  • All dogs in regular, close contact with your dog also need to be treated.
  • Your vet may also recommend using a mite treatment to wash your dog’s bedding, kennel, brushes, coats and any soft furnishings.

Treatment for any other skin problems

  • Your dog will need additional treatments if their skin is very painful, infected or they have developed any wounds.
  • Antibiotics, anti-itch tablets, and/or anti-inflammatories might be necessary - speak to your vet for more information.

Limit contact with other animals

  • Until your dog has recovered, avoid other dogs and areas with lots of foxes.

Outlook

The outlook for a case of mange is excellent if it’s spotted and treated early. The sooner it’s diagnosed; the easier it is to treat. Leaving mange without treatment can lead to skin infections and sometimes, serious illness.

Prevention

The best way to prevent mange is to regularly treat for fleas, this is because many flea treatments are also effective against mange. It’s also sensible to avoid areas that have a large population of foxes.

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for an appointment if you think your dog has mange, or has encountered a dog or fox with mange.

You know your dog best. If they don’t have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

Can humans get mange?

No. Contrary to popular belief, people cannot catch scabies from dogs.

Scabies in humans is caused by a different mite, which spreads from person to person. Dog mange mites can crawl onto us and irritate our skin, but cannot survive on us for more than a couple of days. If your dog has mange, it’s possible that you may suffer with a mild itch and a rash, but this will clear once your dog has been treated.​

Published: August 2020

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst