Sarcoptic Mange in Canines – All you need to Know

Sarcoptic mange also known as canine scabies is a very communicable skin disease usually found in dogs which is caused by the Sarcoptes scabei mite parasite. These microscopic mites burrow through the skin of healthy puppies or dogs causing intense irritation and itching. Variety of skin problems and intense hair loss is also caused by these mites. Fortunately, this is a treatable medical problem but can be contagious for other animals and even humans. It is highly recommended to keep your dog quarantined while the problem is being is treated.

sarcoptic mange in canines

Life Cycle of Canine Scabies

Sarcoptes scabei mites usually spend their whole life on a dog. This parasite usually infects dogs but they can also infect ferrets, cats and even humans. The female mite takes refuge in the skin of dogs and lays eggs many times. These tunnels made by the mites can reach the length of many centimetres into the skin.

After laying the eggs the female mites die and it takes around three to eight days for the eggs to hatch into larvae. The larva matures into nymphs and then molts into an adult while it’s still in the tunnel. The adults mate and the entire process is continuous and the whole life-cycle requires approximately 2 to 3 weeks.

Symptoms and Causes:

Sarcoptic mange is a very common infection and there have been cases where this condition has been misdiagnosed as severe inhalant allergy.

The common symptoms of Sarcoptic mange are-

  • Severe hair loss and intense itching especially on the ears, elbows, ventral abdomen, chest, armpits and hocks.
  • These mites prefer to live on areas of the skin that have less amount of hair. As this condition worsens it can spread all over the body of the animal.
  • Yellow crusts often develop on the skin along with small red pustules. As a result of the severe itching and resultant scratching the skin becomes traumatised and a number of infections and sores can develop as an outcome.7
  • In warm conditions the itching seems to be much worse and the skin gets darkened due to the constant irritation.

The standard treatments for allergies do not decrease the symptoms of Sarcoptic mange and is ineffective, thus if it is diagnosed as sarcoptic mange the treatment should be focused on treating this exclusively.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Diagnosis of Sarcoptic mange can be time consuming. The common method is to do a skin scraping and identify the scabei mites under the microscope. But only a very low percentage of dogs show the mites on any scraping.


There are many ways to treat Sarcoptic mange. The most effective way is to clip the dog hair and bathe him with scabicidal shampoo to kill all the mites. Ongoing treatment is a must to kill all the mites as the eggs take time to hatch, unfortunately most treatments do not kill the eggs. Thus scabicidal shampoo should be repeated in intervals until the eggs are killed as well. This treatment should always be done under the supervision of a veteran.  Different treatments can be used for eliminating the mites entirely. Oral medications can also be very effective for curing Sarcoptic mange. This is a long process and the response to the treatment may take between 4 to 6 weeks.