Mange 101

by Nancy Boland

Mange is an inflammatory disease in dogs caused by various types of the Demodex mite. When the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of the dog become exorbitant, it can lead to skin lesions, genetic disorders, problems with the immune system and hair loss

Symptoms and Types

Demodectic mange may either be localised and affect specific areas of the body, or generalised, where it affects the entire body. If localised, symptoms are usually mild, with lesions occurring in patches, especially on the face, body and legs. If generalised, symptoms will spread to the entire body.

mange 1


While an exact cause of mange in dogs is unknown, many experts believe genetic factors, such as problems with the immune system, may predispose a dog to developing mange.

Three species of mites have been identified to cause mange in dogs and only one specie; Demodex canis has become known for inhabiting the skin and hair follicles and may transfer from mother to newborn during the nursing period.


Skin scrapings are used to find and diagnose demodicosis in dogs. Plucking hairs may also help identify the mite responsible for the condition.

If such diagnoses are found to be inconclusive, often a urine test will identify other possible diagnoses, namely those caused by a disorder with the dog’s metabolic system.


If localised, the problem is likely to resolve itself and disappear spontaneously, which happens in approximately 90 percent of cases. For severe generalised cases, long-term medication may be necessary to control the condition. Lime-sulfur dips to the affected areas may help relieve symptoms. For severe, long term cases, a full health analysis should be given to detect any underlying health conditions.


Follow-up care should include skin scrapings, to continually monitor the presence of mites and check the treatment’s progress. With chronic long-term cases, regular medication may be necessary.


General good health may help prevent some cases with consistent ongoing care for long-term cases and weekly home check-ups to ensure flare ups are detected and treated as soon as possible to maintain maximum comfort for your dog.

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