Mites and Mange in dogs

Tags: dogs

Dog Mites

Picture of mites

Microscopic photo of mites:
Photo ©2000 Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology

Resources on Mites

Information on Mites

Mites in dogs is known generally as Mange and cause severe irritation in dogs with symptoms of inflammation, itching and hair loss. Mites cause their damage by tunneling into the skin via the hair follicles and oil glands of the epidermal layer. Once the dog begins scratching the pruritus, soreness and redness begin to develop leading to crusty skin and scabs. Mites normally live freely in dogs and cats, even humans without ever bothering their host; it is only when the immune system of the host suffers because of any number of circumstances do the mite begin their process of infestation – sometimes causing life-threatening conditions.

For more information on mange, follow the link below:


The most frequent types of Mites are as follows:

  • Sarcoptic Mange or Mites
  • Demodectic Mange or Mites
  • Cheyletiella Mange also called “Walking Dandruff” – (literally crawling under your skin)

Sarcoptic Mites & Mange

Sarcoptic Mange also known as Scabies in humans, is an ugly form of mange and is caused by a terrible mite scientifically called Sarcoptes Scabiei var Canis. Their terrible form comes from the hooks and spines they are covered in and they then reproduce wherever they reside. These little monsters come packed very small at approximately 0.2-0.4mm. They transfer easily as they blow around the environment from animal to animal like dust. Believe it or not, they are much like ticks and spiders in that they are part of the Arachnida class of creatures.

Picture of microscopic mange mite

Photo of a microscopic Mange Mite
Photo ©2000 Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology

Demodex Mites & Mange

Demodectic or Demodex Mange is the most common form of canine mange and are similar to that of a Sarcoptic mite in the way they burrow, feed and reproduce. This parasite is actually part of the normal skin fauna and is usually present in small numbers in health animals. The term Mange actually only characterizes the HIGH number of mites that cause more damage and usually signify an underlying immunodeficiency.

Cheyletiella Mange Mites

Known as Cheyletiella yasguri mite, in large numbers moving about the surface of the skin have lead to the term “walking dandruff” as they cause a dandruff

"Man is an animal that makes bargains; no other animal does this - one dog does not change a bone with another." - Adam Smith
dusting over the head, neck and back. They are actually red in color and are larger in nature – visible under a magnifying glass. The itching they cause is more mild than the previous forms and Cheyletiella Mites have a shorter life span as they can’t survive long without a host.

Life Cycle of Mites

Male and Female mite actually mate on the skin surface of their host. The male dies shortly afterward as the female tunnels back under the skin (epidermal layer) wreaking havoc along the way. The female will lay her eggs through out the pathways and tunnels created and she too shortly dies just following. The eggs receive their nutrition from the hosts blood serum and hatch within 4-8 days. The now larvae molt into nymphs and then into adults all within about 14 days surviving on the nutrition the serum provides. As an adult, the mite continues the process as it’s ancestry had.

Can Humans Catch Mange Mites?

Yes they can but it is typically rare. Scabies is a human type of Sarcoptic Mange Mites known in dogs. Transmission to humans occurs the same way it does from animal to animal but certain mites prefer certain animals – i.e. the Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis prefer canines and will realize this once they have had a chance to burrow for a while. It is also believed that demodex mites are common residents of humans but at low numbers as most people don’t have an immune deficiency so low to allow an outbreak. There have been cases where people have developed cases of scabies only to see them go away immediately – even without treatment because of the mal-immune threshold they need is rare in humans.

Symptoms of a Mite Infestation

When eruption of mites occurs on a host, several symptoms will manifest. Severe irritation caused by burrowing and moving beneath the skin will develop and pruritus (the intense scratching that occurs to alleviate the discomfort) can become self-mutilation. Alopecia (generalized hair loss) results from the loosening of the hair follicles the oversized population of mites do. Cracking and scabs will also develop in the worst conditions. Blood serum can sometimes be seen bleeding from the lesions and fissures. If the case has become this serious the animal is looking at secondary infections from bacteria’s from insects and the environment. If mange goes untreated, animals will die or be forced to be euthanized.


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