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Mange in Dogs: Diagnosis and Treatment

Mange in Dogs: Diagnosis and the BEST Treatment

Mange, or mangey in slang, means something foul or disgusting, similar to zombie flesh. (Gross!). Mange is a serious medical condition that can, thankfully, be easily treated. Once a dog contracts this nasty disease, their skin becomes touch, raw, and rigid, similar to rough stone. Fortunately, successful treatments are easily available to treat an ailing pup. We were eager to help as many suffering fur babies as possible so on September 7th 2019, 50 volunteers of our TAP tribe travelled to the ESLR shelter and administered a dose of a professionally praised medication, Bravecto, to all 250+ shelter dogs. Bravecto worked like a charm! This miracle medicine provided much needed relief and dramatic results are typically seen within just a few weeks! 

              Image courtesy of Animal Pad volunteer, Madeline Barr Photography | www.Madelinebarr.com/

What is mange?

Mange is a skin disease caused by gnarly, parasitic mites that can only be seen under a microscope. These buggers can cause significant discomfort and if a dog scratches the infected area severely, the infection can lead to weeping wounds and open sores. 

Mange also causes the poor pups to lose most, if not all, of their fur. Let’s talk about the two types of mange. 

Sarcoptic mange & Demodectic mange, same same but different …

Sarcoptic and Demodectic are two types of mange that wreak havoc on the doggo community.   Distinguishing between the two is important because their causes, treatments, and prognoses differ.

Sarcoptic mange lives just below the skin’s surface whereas demodectic mange resides within the hair follicles. Although both mite types are similar, one very important characteristic is that one type can transfer to you or other animals easily and the other will not.

Demodectic mange

Demodectic mange is the most common form of mange and includes the following:

  • Likes to live in hair follicles
  • Under a microscope, appears cigar-shaped with 8 legs. A cigar with legs…creepy! 
  • Usually occurs in dogs less than 18 months or with our senior fur babies 
  • Commonly found on skin of all healthy humans and dogs though an immature or aging  immune system allows the number of skin mites to multiply quickly and cause damage
  • Is NOT contagious to other animals or humans

Demodectic mange does not cause as severe itching as sarcoptic mange. However this type can cause localized hair loss that appears as patches of missing fur and red, scaly skin or generalized hair loss, that appears as redness, scaly patches, and fur loss over the entire body.

Image courtesy of Animal Pad volunteer, Madeline Barr Photography | www.Madelinebarr.com/

Sarcoptic mange

AKA Scabies! Sarcoptic mange is common and involves the following:

  • Caused by mites that burrow just beneath the surface of the skin and feed off of whatever might be under there. Um, ew!
  • Feed on healthy dogs or humans
  • HIGHLY contagious, or zoonotic, meaning it is transmissible from pets to people.

                         Image courtesy of Animal Pad volunteer, Madeline Barr Photography |  www.Madelinebarr.com/

Sarcoptic mites cause intense itching with their prey. A dog’s skin will become thick and dark and constantly chew, bite, or lick the infected areas. 


A skin scrape or biopsy test is needed to confirm the type of mange and treatment. Sarcoptic mange can be difficult to diagnose, because those pesky mites like to hide under the skin. Demodectic mange is a little easier to identify since they live in hair follicles.

             Image courtesy of Animal Pad volunteer, Madeline Barr Photography | www.Madelinebarr.com/


Localized demodectic mange is most often treated with topical medication. Generalized demodectic mange needs a more aggressive treatment using special shampoos, dips, and oral medication. Benzoyl peroxide shampoos help open and flush out hair follicles prior to the dipping process. There are also some off label medications or injections your vet may prescribe. Talk with your veterinarian about what’s best for your pooch.

               Image courtesy of Animal Pad volunteer, Madeline Barr Photography | www.Madelinebarr.com/

If mange is left untreated it can lead to more serious issues requiring antibiotic therapy. When the skin itches or is irritated, our furless friends can wreak havoc on their own skin. Can you really blame them, though? Repetitive scratching, especially with sun exposure, can leave permanent scarring and impair healing. Poor nutrition and poor hygiene can also halt the healing process.

               Image courtesy of Animal Pad volunteer, Madeline Barr Photography | www.Madelinebarr.com/

Sarcoptic mange, the contagious type, is treated with medicated baths, dips, injections, oral medications and/or a combination of treatments. Dips and topicals are used directly on the skin. Dips include a lime-sulfur dip and amitraz. Topicals are typically applied every 2-4 weeks and types include selamectin, imidacloprid and moxidectin. Oral medicine includes milbemycin, afoxolaner, sarolaner, and TAP’s favorite; BRAVECTO! 

A government lab study was conducted on 16 dogs that were diagnosed with mange and the efficacy of Bravecto treatment. Deep skin scrape testing was done on each dog and mites were individually counted before treatment, at the 4 week mark and finally, at the end of the test study at 12 weeks. The results were astounding. At the 4 week mark, mites were reduced by a remarkable 99.8%. By the last day of test study, mites were eliminated by 100% and a dramatic improvement was seen in the overall appearance of the dog’s skin leaving them with significantly less dry patches, crusts and scales. 15 out of the 16 dogs showed almost full regeneration of their fur as well! 

Don’t forget to properly sanitize and/or bleach all your dog hang outs such as the dog bed, carpets, and your bed sheets to prevent re-infection. If after 5 days the scratching persists, contact your veterinarian.

**Actual photographic testimonial of our classic diva Aretha, now adopted and renamed FREDDIE! Freddie was brought from the Ensenada shelter in rough shape from Sarcoptic mange but that never got this baby girl down. Within just a few weeks, this angel went from gremlin to 100% that b*tch. Thank you Bravecto for being a miracle and thank you Freddie for letting us give you the glow up you always deserved!**


Treatment of mange is generally successful. However, if the immune system is weakened, neither the mites nor the infection may respond to treatment. With generalized demodicosis, successful treatment may take a while and require regular skin scrapings to check treatment progress. 

One of our own TAP superstar pups, Aretha aka Freddie (renamed after adoption), was diagnosed with mange. While she was at our Spring Valley kennel facility, we treated her with Bravecto and medicated baths and she was transformed into a healthy, beautiful furball! 

Follow our journey @theanimalpad on instagram to see our field study. We can’t wait to see their progress and share it all with you!


Images used are from Animal Pad volunteer, Madeline Barr Photography | www.Madelinebarr.com/