How to Identify Mange in Dogs? A Guide for Dog Parents

Dogs are vulnerable to numerous diseases, but mange is probably one of the most dangerous.

As the pet’s skin and hair get seriously infected, the rest of its internal system might also be put on the wrath path.

Do not be surprised if it takes you and your pet months or even years to handle the consequence.

No worries; my guide has compiled useful tips on how to identify mange in dogs. Keep scrolling to prepare yourself ahead.

What Is Mange in Dogs?

how to identify mange in dogs

Mange is one of the most common skin conditions among household pets, especially dogs.

The issue often stems from mites (also known as microscopic parasites), which infiltrate the canine’s hair follicles and skin.

Note that mange types are not exactly identical; by the time of this writing, two basic types of mange have been proven and acknowledged: demodectic mange (occurring in the follicles) and sarcoptic mange or scabies (found under the skin’s surface).

Sarcoptic Mange

As indicated by its name, Sarcoptic mange results from eight-legged, circular-shaped mites named “Sarcoptes scabiei.” 

Strong caution is needed since Sarcoptic mange is very contagious.

It can pass from canine to canine or even dogs to owners (though, thankfully, this sarcoptic mite does not thrive that much on human hosts).

Once infiltrating the dog’s skin, female sarcoptic mange mites will burrow there to lay eggs.

It only takes the eggs three weeks to hatch, and these newborns will then keep feeding on the skin surface.

Demodectic Mange

Also known as Demotex, Demodectic goes hand in hand with Demodex mite, a type of cigar-shaped parasite.

What sets it apart from Sarcoptic is the infection’s position and severity: Demodectic is considered a regular skin flora part, harmless and always present.

The mites pass from puppies to mothers during the first after-birth days and are non-contagious to owners.

Throughout their stay within the hair follicles, the mange causes no trouble and will likely disappear if the dog has its immune system in check.

However, dogs with weakened systems are a different story; failure to tend to them in time will make the mange grow beyond control.

How to Identify Mange in Dogs? 

Look out for the transparent signals on the dog’s skin.

Rub its ear gently with your forefinger and thumb to see whether the dog tries to scratch it; if yes, mange symptoms are almost 100% positive.

Bring your canine to a vet to confirm these observations.

The full guidelines on how to know if dog has mange are as follows: 

1. Look Out For The Outside Symptoms

Dogs going down with mange (especially Sarcoptic mange) would have these symptoms manifested; keep a close eye on them.

Intense Itching

Frantic itching is common for almost any case of sarcoptic mange; more specifically, your dog will chew or scratch their skin fervently to cool down the itch.

In serious scenarios, this excessive chewing paves the way for secondary infection and, worse, distracts your canine friend from sleeping, drinking, and eating.

  • Bacteria infection caused by mange often leads to crusty, white surfaces forming on the pet’s irritated skin.
  • Large lymph nodes, fever runs, or weight loss are also to be expected from these bacterial infections.
  • Ear itching is usually the very first symptom in early stages of mange in dogs: they will spend most of the day just scratching their ears.

Hair Loss

Though much less serious, localized demodectic issues also trigger several visible symptoms – particularly missing hair and bald patches.

Most of the time, small skin patches due to demodectic mange will not become irritated/inflamed and do not cause any serious itch.

The hairs just fall out gradually on their own.

On the contrary, sarcoptic mange is a disaster: excessive itches and all-over hair are inevitable.

Your dogs would scratch their skins so hard the fur literally gets pulled out in huge clumps.

The Bald Spots Spread Out

Localized demodectic not going away or treated on time will eventually spread the bald spots to other body parts, developing into generalized demodectic.

The same applies to sarcoptic mange, though in a much worse manner: 

  • All the surrounding skin (around the bald spot) grows crusty, scaly, and red.
  • The dogs cannot stop scratching, worsening the bacterial infection – all the more reason to identify and treat the mange as soon as possible before more problems are added.

Swollen Feet

Another tip on how to tell if a dog has mange is to double-check its feet and confirm whether they are irritated or swollen.

Certain demodectic cases cause a follow-up condition called “Pododermatitis,” in which the mites are deeply embedded to the point of being unable to remove.

The disease presents itself through sore, swollen feet.

  • The swellings get extra worse near the nail bed, usually accompanied by secondary infections
  • Excessive sarcoptic-mange scratching might develop into swollen paws as well.

Poor Self-Care and Grooming

As the itching sensations refuse to go away, they only get more painful and annoying over time.

They worsen to the point that the dog will neglect all types of regular activities (licking itself clean, enjoying bath time, etc.) to focus solely on relieving the itchiness.

Even signals of hunger or thirst will disappear; these dogs no longer care about their own feedings.

Other Symptoms

Although most of the symptoms above are easy to recognize – even for beginners – you might want to err on the safe side by tracking other indicators as well: 

  • Dark, thick skin patches
  • More hair loss around the belly and legs
  • Scratching the private parts due to itching
  • Yeast infection
  • Rash/ extreme redness
  • Scabs on the skin/ scaly skin

2. Give The Dog A Pinnal-Pedal Scratching Test

Pinnal-pedal tests are classic reflex checkups to confirm the beginning of mange in dogs.

Step 1. Grab its ear

Is it OK to touch a dog with mange? Yes.

Some mild irritations might happen on your skin, but no worries; as mentioned, the mite infestation does not thrive in humans and will not last long.

Wear gloves. Then grab one of the pet’s ears; hold the floppy, loose part between your index finger and thumb.

Step 2. Rub the ear

Use your index finger and thumb to rub the ear on both sides gently. 

Remember to keep your movements steady and slow – and most importantly, do not squeeze too tight.

Always watch out for the pet’s hind legs to see whether they give any body reaction.

Step 3. Assess whether the dog tries to scratch

Observe the dog’s reaction while you are rubbing its ears. What does it do? 

  • Dogs with sarcoptic mange will move their hind legs repeatedly (in an attempt to shoo away an inch).

Mange mites love gnawing on the ear skin, which explains why the itching sensation is triggered under your fingers.

  • Barely any movement means there is no mange.

Wash your fingers carefully with water and soap once finishing the test.

3. Bring The Pet to A Vet For A More Thorough Diagnosis

While the reflex tests are great in singling out tell-tale signals, they do not give a diagnosis as definitive as medical investigations.

You must still confirm the test results through a formal appointment with professionals and vets.

What Causes Mange in Dogs?

early stages of mange in dogs

Contagious sarcoptic mange often stems from wildlife animals, other dogs, or (rarer) infected beddings.

Meanwhile, generalized demodectic mange is the result of weakened immune systems, commonly seen in senior/puppy dogs or those with previous medical diseases.

Sarcoptic Mange

Most medical experts and professionals put the issue down to wildlife spreading.

For instance, house yards crossed over by animals, foxes, etc., will likely pass the mite to the dog.

And aside from wild animals, you have to be aware of other dogs, as well; the parasites may spread as the dogs play/live together or share the same shelter/ boarding facility.

And although rarer, infected blankets or bedding are another potential source; when the symptoms will show up after the exposure is another matter.

It could either be after 10 days or last for as long as eight weeks.

Demodectic Mange

As explained above, demodectic mites spread widely in the dog’s oil glands or hair follicles and are not considered a common skin disease.

It only grows into one if the dog’s immune system is problematic or weakened, meaning the mange fails to go away on its own.

Hence, older dogs, puppies, or those with medical history (cancer or diabetes, for instance) suffer from the highest demodectic mange risks due to their incomplete immune system.

Wait a few days to see whether the system eventually kicks in and resolves the problem without your intervention.

If its skin condition only worsens, the localized demodectic has officially grown into generalized demodex – and it is time to consider serious treatment plans.

How to Treat And Prevent Mange in Dogs? 

Boosting Immunity

Weak immune systems heighten the risks of both sarcoptic and demodectic mange, allowing the mites and parasites to take over.

Hence, paying attention to the dog’s daily diet is a must.

Always make sure it eats healthy, and remember to include probiotics and prebiotics in the meals to increase enzyme levels – which helps boost beneficial bacteria.

Using Safe Ingredients to Bathe It

Most commercial shampoos and soaps might be too harsh for skin scraping caused by mange.

And “medicated” shampoo is the worst, which actually aggravates the problem instead of curing it.

Remember the following bathing tips to speed up the recovery process – while also preventing the mange from returning in the future:

  • Only use natural shampoo (no toxic ingredients) for every bath. Vinegar bathing is a great idea.
  • Bathe the dog once per week if it has sarcoptic mange, and ensure every type of mite on the dog’s skin does not transfer to the environment.
  • Bathe the dog twice per week in case of demodectic mange; this bathing schedule should last for about 1-2 months.

Using Oil Blends and Anti-Parasite Herb

Some natural canine herbals are great for treating parasitic diseases – and most importantly, they are cheap. Cases in point are:

  • Jatropha cruces (Barbados nut oils): they are simultaneously antifungal, antiparasitic, and insecticidal.
  • Neem oils (with geranium essential and Palmarosa oil blend)
  • Neem oil and turmeric infusion

Using Natural Mite Avenges

Another chemical-free method to treat both mange types is Mite Avenge, whose ingredients only include natural substances:

  • Styrax benzoin
  • Essential oils
  • Sea kelp
  • Vitamin E
  • Disodium tetraborate (can be mixed with other substances for the best results)
  • Dihydrogen dioxide

Remember to read the guidelines carefully before applying the product to your dog.

Feeding The Dog Quercetin Fruits

Quercetin is a common fruit/vegetable element, known for its anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory characteristics.

As such, it can suppress inflammation-associated cellular activity to reduce the dog’s severe itching – without the common side effects found in oral medications.

Feeding Natural Antibiotics

Try out natural antibiotic products to smooth out the skin surface: 

  • Calendula
  • Plantain
  • Oregano oil
  • Olive leaf

Decontaminating Your Home

There’s no better way to treat and prevent mange at the same time than thorough house decontamination. Trace along with my guidelines carefully: 

  • Use borax and hot water (as hot as possible) to wash your clothes, towels, and the pet’s bedding.
  • Vacuum the upholstery, rugs, and floors; steam if necessary, then change the vacuum bags.

In the case of bagless machines, add salt to your collection cups to tear the mites to shred, then empty/wash the cup outside.

  • Wash the bare floors with borax and hot water.
  • Put diatomaceous earth in mattresses, furniture, baseboards, floorboards, rugs, kennels, vehicles, or anywhere you think the tiny parasitic mites may reside.

The earth will dehydrate the parasite/insect’s exoskeletons, killing them in an instant

  • Seal and bag soft items for a few weeks to kill off possible mites

Take The Dog to The Vet

Still feeling unsure despite all the cautionary methods? Go to the vet to seek more advice.

Report all existing symptoms and procedures you have applied thus far, so that the experts can get the most accurate picture of your current situation.


Do dogs fully recover from mange

Learning how to identify mange in dogs is straightforward – since the symptoms clearly manifest themselves in extreme itching, bald skin issues, and rash. They are hard to ignore!

It is possible to treat/prevent skin biopsy using natural, effective treatments as above.

But if you still want to ensure maximum efficiency, do not hesitate to seek professional help from medical experts.

If you still cannot figure out how to know if your dog has mange, write to me for more advice.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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