Pet Care Advice 》 Understanding Mange

Sarcoptes and Demodex mites cause two types of mange. Here are our quick tips for identifying and treating mange.


Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies)

More commonly known as “Scabies”, sarcoptic mange is caused by the Sarcoptes mite and is highly contagious. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with affected dogs (e.g. in kennels) and/or contaminated grooming products. Humans can also contract scabies through direct contact.

How do I know if my dog has scabies?

Sarcoptic mange causes intense itchiness and your dog will scratch their skin around their ears, face, elbows, armpits and hocks until it’s raw.

How do you get rid of scabies?

Your vet will prescribe a treatment, which will normally include a course of topical medication which should be applied to the skin every 2-4 weeks for at least 6 weeks.

As sarcoptic mange is extremely itchy, the vet may also prescribe anti-itch medication.

What should I do if I’ve been in direct contact with an animal that has scabies?

You should check whether you or any of your family members are showing signs of an itchy rash and seek advice from your doctor immediately, if you are concerned that you may have contracted scabies.

How do I get rid of scabies in my home?

All animals that may have been in contact with the infected pet should also be treated. Kennels, dog bedding, pet collars, and grooming brushes should be disinfected. You should also wash clothing, bedding, and towels, as well as any soft furnishings, to ensure that the mites are removed. You should also vacuum-clean your home thoroughly.


Demodectic Mange

This type of mange occurs in localized and generalised forms.

Localised demodectic mange normally affects puppies and is the milder form.

Generalised demodectic mange normally affects adult dogs and is harsher.

How do I know if my dog has demodectic mange?

Localised symptoms include:

  • Mild thinning of the fur, mainly around the face
  • Little or no itchiness
  • Red, scaly skin

Generalised symptoms include:

  • Patches of hair loss on head, legs, and trunk
  • Sores that have pus and crusty skin
  • Thickened and pigmented skin
  • Itchiness

How is demodectic mange treated?

Localised mange in puppies often heals spontaneously, however it is best to treat to reduce the risk of it progressing to the generalised form.

Generalised mange always requires treatment by a vet. This includes:

  • Anti-mite treatment, which may be oral, injectable, spot-on or a medicated bath, depending on the drug chosen.
  • Treatment needs to be continued until the skin consistently tests negative for mites (2 negative skin scrapes, 1 month apart). This often takes 3-4 months.
  • Antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infection.

Dogs need a fully functioning immune system to fight the mites. Dogs that have certain medical conditions (e.g. Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism, cancer), or are taking medication that suppresses the immune system, may find they have recurring mange. Certain breeds such as Shar-Peis are also prone to demodectic mange.

Can cats get demodectic mange?

Yes, cats can get Demodex too. This is usually a sign that their immune system is suppressed by another disease, e.g. Feline Leukaemia Virus, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or diabetes mellitus.


Contact your nearest veterinarian if you have any concerns.