You may have heard someone refer to a dog as “mangy," but did you know that mange is an actual condition in dogs? You'll usually see the most dramatic cases of sarcoptic mange in stray or homeless dogs with missing patches of fur and itchy, red skin, but mange is something that can happen to beloved and well-cared for family dogs, too.
"Sarcoptic mange" is a term used to describe a skin infection caused by parasitic mites. Sarcoptic mange (also called scabies) occurs when the Sarcoptes scabiei mites burrow into the dog's skin and cause infection. Sarcoptic mange in dogs is highly contagious, both for other dogs and via dog-to-people transmission.
How do dogs get mange?
Dogs generally get sarcoptic mange, or scabies, from another dog with the disease. Places where your dog comes into close contact with other dogs—doggie daycares, dog parks, veterinary clinics, and groomers—are all places where scabies can be transmitted.
What are the symptoms of mange in dogs?
Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the type of mange your dog might have. These symptoms can also indicate other medical issues, so it's important to get your dog checked out.
Symptoms may include:
- frequent or constant scratching
- red, inflamed skin
- missing patches of fur/hair loss (alopecia)
- lesions or scaly/crusty skin, especially around the ears
- extreme discomfort for the dog
How do you treat mange in dogs?
Scabies is diagnosed through a skin scrape, though the mites can be hard to find this way. If a dog is displaying many of the typical symptoms, a vet may begin treatment. Treatment includes topical or oral medication, but it's also very important to clean your house and any bedding that the dog may have come into contact with, because these mites can live in the environment for anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks.
Mange is one of several skin conditions that can affect your pet. Be sure to talk with your vet if you're concerned your dog has any of these symptoms.