Parasitic diseases

Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: September 20, 2017
Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs

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Sarcoptic mange, also called common mange, is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite and is the most common type of mange in dogs. It causes intense itching and dramatically affects the quality of life of the dog. It can lead to bacterial infections and serious health problems if left untreated. It is a curable condition, but it is also very contagious and can even be transmitted to humans.

In this article, we at AnimalWised will cover the ins and outs of sarcoptic mange in dogs, the symptoms experienced by the animal and the treatment to be applied. Keep reading:

You may also be interested in: Mange in Guinea Pigs - Symptoms & Treatment


  1. What is sarcoptic mange?
  2. Causes and risk factors
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Treatment of sarcoptic mange in dogs
  5. How to prevent sarcoptic mange in dogs

What is sarcoptic mange?

The parasite causing this disease is the microscopic Sarcoptes scabiei mite that lives within the skin of infected dogs, causing pruritus (itching). Female S. scabiei mites are the main cause of pruritus, as they dig microscopic tunnels in the dog's skin to lay eggs.

Risk factors for sarcoptic mange

This disease is highly contagious and any dog that comes into contact with an infected dog will almost certainly contract it. Infection also occurs indirectly through inanimate objects that have been in contact with the infected dog, e.g. beds, kennels, dog grooming equipment, collars, food bowls and even dog feces.

Sarcoptic mange can also be transmitted to humans (although the mite cannot live long in the human) and back again to a dog. Symptoms appear between two to six weeks after infection. Dogs with the greatest risk are those found at kennels in pet homes and those that have frequent contact with stray dogs.

Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs - What is sarcoptic mange?

Causes and risk factors

The most obvious symptoms of sarcoptic mange include:

  • Such intense itching (pruritus) that the dog cannot stop scratching and biting the affected areas. It can be anywhere on the body, but usually begins in the ears, face, arms and belly.
  • Irritated and/or skin wounds and scabs.
  • Blackened skin (hyperpigmentation) and skin thickening (hyperkeratosis), usually on and around the ears.
  • As the disease progresses, weakness and general decay occurs due to the inability of the dog to rest.
  • In advanced stages, bacterial infections are also present in the skin.
  • If sarcoptic mange is not treated, the dog can die.
Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs - Causes and risk factors


The diagnosis of sarcoptic mange should be made by the vet. In some cases, the vet may take a sample (e.g. of feces) and observe it under a microscope. However, most of the time the diagnosis is made through the dog's history and symptoms.

Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs - Diagnosis

Treatment of sarcoptic mange in dogs

Sarcoptic mange can be cured and generally has a good prognosis. Treatment usually includes acaricide shampoo or a combination of shampoo and medication. Some common acaricides in treating this and other scabs are ivermectin and amitraz (always check with the vet).

It is important to note that some breeds of sheepdogs such as the Collie, the English Shepherd and Australian Shepherd have problems with these drugs, so the vet should prescribe other alternative treatment.

When secondary bacterial infections occur, it is also necessary to administer antibiotics to treat them. The veterinarian is the only one who can prescribe medications and indicate their frequency and dosage.

Other dogs that live with the affected dog should also be examined and treated by a veterinarian, even if they display no symptoms. Furthermore, it is important to apply an acaricide in the dog's sleeping area and on the items with which it has contact. Be careful, though, as these products may be poisonous. Avoid applying them on items that the dog will place in its mouth, e.g. balls and toys. This should also be indicated by the vet.

Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs - Treatment of sarcoptic mange in dogs

How to prevent sarcoptic mange in dogs

To prevent mange, you should stop your dog from coming into contact with infected dogs and their environment. It is important to take the dog to the vet at the first suspicion of mange - the sooner it is detected, the sooner it will be treated, and the better the prognosis for your dog.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Parasitic diseases category.

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Sarcoptic Mange in Dogs