• Icon depicting demodectic and sarcoptic mites that cause mange in dogs

It Mite Be Mange: Photos, Causes, Symptoms + Treatment

Remember, we always recommend consulting with your vet for any of your dog's health concerns.

Dog in kennel with severe case of mange, fur loss, and scaly skin looks back towards camera

What is Mange?

Mange is a skin disease caused by microscopic parasites called mites. The word comes from the Old French mangeue, meaning "eat" or "chew."

There are two main types of mange that affect dogs, each named after the specific mite that causes it: demodectic (demodex, or red mange) and sarcoptic (scabies). Though they share some similarities, they have different treatments and prognoses.

Photo via International Aid for the Protection & Welfare of Animals (IAPWA)

Drawing of basset hound dressed as Sherlock Holmes with magnifying glass in mouth

Key Identifiers of Mange


  • Patches of spreading hair loss (alopecia), typically beginning on the face
  • Redness, acariasis (rash) scaling skin
  • Swelling, infections, crusts
  • Itching is common, but may not be severe


  • Extreme itching
  • Spreading hair loss
  • Redness, rash, infection
  • Scabs and hyperpigmentation (dark areas)
  • Yellow crusts and skin thickening/hardening
  • Itching, pain, and sensitivity
Demodex canis mange mites taken from a dog's skin seen under a microscope

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange (demodicosis) is the most common form of mange in dogs. The cigar-shaped demodex mites are part of the normal array of microbes that live on dogs' skin, inhabiting hair follicles and sebaceous glands (another part of hair follicles).

A normal immune system keeps the mites in check, and they cause no problem unless they grow out of control due to a weak or suppressed immune system. Demodex occurs most often to puppies less than 18 months old whose immune systems have not fully developed.

Red mange can happen to seniors with weaker immune systems or to adults with underlying health issues, such as malnutrition, cancer, hypothyroidism, or diabetes.

Photo via Dr. Michael W. Dryden, DVM, PhD, DACVM; via the Merck Veterinary Manual

Profile drawing of dog's head wearing lavender goggles, gas mask, and biohazard coat

Is Demodex Mange Contagious?

Demodex mange is not contagious - either between dogs, other animals, or humans. Nearly all dogs carry demodex mites, as they are transferred from their mother shortly after birth.

Because the immune system (abnormalities included) is transferred genetically, it is strongly believed that demodex mange is hereditary. It is recommended that dogs affected by demodectic mange should not be bred, and the parents shouldn't be bred again.

Sarcoptic scabei mange mite as seen under microscope

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange, or scabies, is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, which resembles a tick with stubby legs. Unlike demodex mites, which are associated with hair follicles, scabies mites burrow anywhere into the skin, feed, and breed quickly.

Scabies can affect all ages and breeds of dogs, causing intense itching. They tend to attack the ear margins, elbows, and ankles, then spread. Dogs constantly chew and scratch to stop the itch, leading to hair loss, redness, and darkening (hyperpigmentation) and hardening of the skin.

Symptoms might appear as soon as 10 days or as late as 8 weeks after contact. If scabies is left untreated, it can result in emaciation and eventual death.

Photo via Dr. Michael W. Dryden, DVM, PhD, DACVM; via the Merck Veterinary Manual

Profile drawing of dog's head wearing lavender goggles, gas mask, and biohazard coat

Is Sarcoptic Mange Contagious?

Yes, scabies is highly contagious - another difference between it and red (demodex) mange. They are typically picked up from other animals (such as foxes or coyotes) that are infected, and they can even be acquired from shed fur or bedding.

Scabies are zoonotic, meaning they can affect animals other than dogs - yes, including humans. While the scabies mites cannot complete their life cycle on humans like on dogs, they can make life miserable for several days.

It's important that any bedding, collars, clothing, or fabrics that your dog comes into regular contact with are frequently washed or discarded to prevent re-infection.

Severe case of scabies on belly of dog on veterinary examination table

How Is Canine Mange Treated?

We highly recommend seeking veterinary consultation, as mange can spread quickly.

Your vet will take skin scrapings to determine if, and what type of mange is present. Sometimes, multiple scrapings may be needed, as scabies mites can "hide."

With demodex mange, treatment depends on whether it is localized (a few patches) or generalized (all over). The localized form is often treated with topicals and medicated shampoos. There have been many cases where localized red mange has resolved on its own - that is, the dog's immune system was able to stop it before it could spread further.

Both scabies and the generalized form of demodex mange call for more aggressive treatment to stop the infestation, cleanse the skin, and address secondary issues that may have arisen from the damaged skin - such as bacterial or fungal infections.

Several oral and topical treatments that veterinarians may consider for mange are:

  • Topical: selamectin, moxidectin-imidacloprid, topical fluralaner
  • Injectable: doramectin
  • Oral: milbemycin oxime, afoxolaner, fluralaner, and ivermectin (cannot be used for many herding breeds)

Humans that have been exposed to scabies should consider consulting with their doctor.

Sarcoptic mange; photo by Adam P. Patterson, DVM, DACVD; via Clinician's Brief

Can Lavengel® Help with Canine Mange?

To be honest, we are not currently certain if Lavengel® works against mange mites or not. We have one confirmed testimony of an owner using our gel on a case of sarcoptic mange on her yellow Labrador (photos below). Here's what she had to say:

"The very first time I put your gel on Gunner, IMMEDIATELY, he calmed down, was able to sleep, and not be scratching or biting all of his allergic [scabies] spots. AMAZING! He eased and finally got some good sleep... It is helping, even visibly noticeable for the loss of the terrible redness he originally had.

The original problem turned out (after 3 trips to the vet) from being infested by sarcoptic mange mites that we got here from mange-carrying foxes on our farm. But your cream [gel] helped tremendously along with the prescribed treatment after he was properly diagnosed with those mites." -- Alberta S.

From this we can surmise that Lavengel® relieves the irritation from scabies, but it would likely need to be in conjunction with another prescribed treatment(s) to eradicate the mites.

  • Labrador paw affected by sarcoptic mange mite infestation
  • Inner foreleg of yellow Labrador Retriever with aggravated skin due to scabies mange mites
  • Yellow Lab dog paw with redness due to licking and chewing at scabies mange mites