Mange (sarcoptes mite) in dogs

isolated dog

Overview

Mange is a skin condition caused by a mite called ‘Sarcoptes’. Mange is highly contagious, often caught by contact with an infected dog or fox.

Sarcoptes mites burrow under the skin, causing an intense itch, crusty skin and hair loss. These patches tend to form around the ear edges, elbows, hocks (ankles) and belly. A more serious case of mange is likely to spread over a dog’s whole body and make them very poorly.

Mange is treated with insecticides provided by your vet; your dog may also need treatment for any skin infections or inflammation. Book an appointment with your vet if you are concerned your dog has mange.

Dog mange can spread to humans but isn’t often a serious problem. Contact your doctor if you believe you have caught mange from your dog.

Mange explained

Mange is a skin condition caused by a tiny mite called Sarcoptes. Sarcoptes mites burrow under the skin, causing an intense itch, crusty skin and hair loss. Patches start to form around the edges of the ears, on the elbows, hocks (ankles) and belly. A more serious case of mange is likely to spread over a dog’s whole body and make them very poorly.

Mange mites live on dogs and foxes and are very contagious. Dog mange can spread to humans but doesn’t often cause a serious problem. Contact your doctor if you believe you have caught mange from your dog.

Symptoms

  • An intense itch
  • Crusty, red, thickened skin
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Ears, chest, elbows and hocks most severely affected
  • Can spread over whole body
  • Low energy (lethargy).

Treatment

Once diagnosed treatment is relatively straightforward and includes:

Insecticides

  • For insecticides to kill mange mites, 2-3 treatments are often necessary.
  • All dogs in regular, close contact need to be treated.
  • Dog bedding, brushes, coats and the household should be treated.

Other skin treatments

  • Depending on severity, it may be necessary to treat skin inflammation or infections.
  • Your vet will advise you whether this is necessary.

Limit socialisation

  • Until your dog has recovered, avoid other dogs and areas you know foxes roam.

Outlook

Outlook is excellent if mange is spotted and treated early.

The sooner the problem is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Leaving mange without treatment could lead to your dog becoming seriously unwell in himself/herself.

Prevention

Regularly de-flea your dog, many flea treatments are also effective against mange mites.

Avoid areas that have a large population of foxes – if they happen to have mange they could pass the mite onto your dog.

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for an appointment if you think you dog has mange or has been close to a dog 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.

Published: February 2019

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Written by vets and vet nurses

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst