Understanding Mange

By Kaytie Grant

What is Mange?

Mange is a skin disease caused by mites. There are two types which can be contracted by dogs – sarcoptic and demodectic.

Sarcoptic Mange

This is the more common of the two types and is more contagious. It is caused by tiny, spider-like mites burrowing their way under the surface of the skin and laying eggs. The eggs develop into larvae before also becoming adult mites, reproducing and continuing the cycle. 

Mange causes severe itching and when infected dogs scratch incessantly it can lead to hair loss, the development of wounds, sores and secondary infection. 

A course of treatment to kill the mites will cure a dog’s mange. They may also require antibiotics to treat secondary infection from open sores or wounds. 

Sarcoptic mange is contagious and can be transmitted to humans (although mites are unable to survive on human skin so any infection is short lived) and other dogs. It is therefore important not to allow an infected dog to share a bed with another whilst it is suffering from disease. Bedding should be washed regularly and dogs should be refrained from using the furniture. Owners are advised not to get too close or to cuddle dogs until the infection has been treated. 

Demodectic Mange

This is the rarer of the two types seen in dogs. It is passed on from a mother to her puppies. In healthy dogs, the disease may not develop. However, if a puppy’s immunity is compromised, the mange may take hold. Localised demodectic mange occurs around the face in younger puppies. Generalised demodectic mange affects the whole body of older dogs.

Treatment in affected dogs include topical creams or medicated baths. 


Keeping your dog in optimum health with a strong immune system will help prevent mange from developing. This is why it is important a new or young dog should be given a course of vitamins and receive the recommended vaccinations. Stress and hormones can compromise a dog’s immunity so spay or neutering is also recommended. 

At IWCT, nearly all the dogs we rescue are suffering from varying degrees of mange. This isn’t surprising as most have been surviving on scraps of food, thus having little nutrition and would have suffered a lot of stress through not having somewhere safe to sleep.

a dog receiving treatment for mange

You can help by making a donation to help the animals we treat. A warm, medicated bath to soothe itching and soreness costs very little but goes a long way.


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