Mange is a dog skin disease caused by various species of mites. We explain how to identify the symptoms of canine scabies, its care and treatment, and how to prevent contagion in your dog.

scabies in dogs

Types of canine mange

Depending on the mite species that causes the disease, we find different types of canine mange. The most affected dogs are usually those in poor hygienic conditions and overcrowded. Still, they can also contract it if they suffer from other debilitating diseases or alter their immune systems, such as hypothyroidism, stress, or immunosuppressive treatments. 

The symptoms and treatment are very similar in all, with some particularities.

Demodectic mange: caused by mites of the genus Demodex, which are found naturally on dogs’ skin and hair follicles. It only causes the disease when the number of mites multiplies in excess due to a lowering of defenses, other underlying conditions (stress, hypothyroidism, cancer ), or immunosuppressive treatments. There are also genetically predisposed animals, such as purebred and short-haired (Shar Pei, Doberman). 

It is not contagious to humans. Instead, there is a localized form, which usually resolves on its own in a few months, and a more severe, generalized form that spreads throughout the body.

Sarcoptic mange: also called ‘ canine scabies,’ it is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis, a mite capable of digging millimeter galleries in the skin. This type of scabies can affect other species, such as cats or foxes, transmissible to humans.

Cheyletiellosis: this scabies is also known as ‘ walking dandruff ‘due to its symptoms. Its etiological agent is Cheyletiella, and it can affect dogs, cats, rabbits, and humans.

Ear mites belong to the Otodectes cynotis species and are located in the ear canal. It is much more common in cats, although dogs, especially puppies, can also suffer from it. The human being is not affected.

scabies in dogs

Symptoms of mange in dogs

Depending on the type of scabies, the symptoms in the dog and the location and extent of the skin lesions are different. However, the characteristic common to almost all of them is pruritus or itching, a very annoying symptom that causes discomfort and restlessness in our dogs. They tend to scratch with their paws, rub against objects, and lick themselves constantly to alleviate it.

Alopecia, or hair loss of greater or lesser degree, is also a common symptom in all types of mange. Its extension varies depending on the type of scabies and their severity, ranging from lesions of a few centimeters to complete areas of the head, back, or extremities. Other lesions include erythema or redness of the skin, flaking or “dandruff,” bumps, scabs, and blemishes.

In demodectic scabies, itching is rarely expected, except if bacteria secondarily infect the skin. 

The localized form is common in young dogs and affects the periorbital area (around the eye) and the corners of the lips, causing alopecia and skin pigmentation. The majority of cases remit spontaneously, but in a small percentage, this scabies can be generalized, encompassing larger areas of skin, all over the head, trunk, and extremities, with alopecia, erythema, scaling, thickening of the skin, and even ulcers. . These cases are more severe and require intensive treatment, as the general health of the dog can seriously deteriorate.

Canine scabies or manage symptoms are common alopecia, erythema, papules, and crusts, especially on the ears, elbows, belly, and shanks. It causes severe itching and, if left untreated, the disease can progress for years.

scabies in dogs

Although highly contagious, cheyletielosis is a milder type of scabies, where the mite lives free on skin keratin on the back. It causes symptoms such as itching to varying degrees and significant peeling of the skin, which can be seen as small, mobile white flakes on the hair.

In the case of ear mites, they cause a very itchy external otitis, and it is easy to see blackish wax in the ear canal.