What Is Mange and How Do You Treat It?

Three Minutes
Dec 07, 2023

Mange is a skin disease that’s caused by two different species of mites. This painful skin condition can cause scabs, sores, and hair loss in dogs. It’s most often seen in a handful of breeds, neglected or abused dogs, or dogs with underlying medical conditions. Treating dog mange can cost from $350 – $1,000, depending on the severity.1

We’ll cover what mange looks like on a dog, what you need to know about the two primary types of mange, what dogs are most at risk, common symptoms, and treatment.

Types of Mange in Dogs

There are two kinds of mange on dogs. While mites cause both types, the two have significant differences. Even the symptoms of mange in dogs look slightly different depending on the type. If the dog is a stray, neglected, or abused, mange can grow out of hand.2 But how do dogs get mange?

Some mites belong, to some extent, as part of a dog’s natural ecosystem on their skin. Whereas other mites jump from infected hosts. However, all mites — regardless of if they’re a part of your dog’s skin biome or were transferred — have the potential to cause mild to severe skin infections. Here’s what you need to know about sarcoptic vs. demodectic mange:

Sarcoptic mange

Sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies, is highly contagious. It’s caused by microscopic mites and is easily transferred between hosts. These mites burrow into a dog’s skin and lay eggs. Once hatched, the young mites eat at the dog’s skin. Scabies is contagious and spreads quickly. Humans can carry and transmit this kind of mange, even though the mites don’t feed on humans.2

Here are some of the symptoms of sarcoptic mange:2

  • Extreme itchiness
  • Hair loss
  • Crusty yellow sores
  • Reddened skin
  • Scabs and sores on the ears, elbows, face, and legs
  • Leathery skin
  • Skin and ear infections
  • Inflamed lymph nodes

Demodectic mange

The most common type of mange, demodectic mange, is caused by a mite that lives on dogs and humans alike. The demodex mite is common, and the majority of healthy pets possess a certain number of demodex without problems. All dogs have some demodectic mange mites, which transfer from mother to pup during cuddling in the first few days of life.2

Most dogs don’t have a problem with demodex mites; however, some may experience severe cases of mange from them. If your pet has a weakened immune system, the mites multiply quickly as your dog’s body isn’t able to maintain the mite population properly.2

Here are some signs that may indicate your dog has demodectic mange:2

  • Hair loss
  • Scabs and sores on the ears, elbows, face, and legs
  • Scaly red skin
  • Skin and ear infections
  • Leathery skin

Mange Can Be Scary. Vet Bills Don’t Have To Be.

Find Out More

Dogs Predisposed to Developing Mange

Puppies under 18 months of age are prone to localized demodectic mange, which often clears on its own. Generalized demodectic mange is more serious and can be hereditary.1 Here are some breeds with a higher risk of developing mange:

Senior dogs or dogs with an underlying medical condition are also at a higher risk of developing mange. Here are some conditions that increase your dog’s risk:1

investigating a skin issue on a dog

Mange Treatment for Dogs

If you suspect your dog has mange, consult a veterinarian. They’ll perform a physical examination and take skin scrapings to look at under a microscope. Depending on the type of mange, they may prescribe a medication like ivermectin.1

Your vet may prescribe mange medication that you can give your dog orally, via shampoo, topically, or by injection. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely, as mange medicines can be toxic to dogs in large amounts.3

How to treat a dog for mange at home

Aside from following your vet’s instructions, there are a few things you can do to help soothe your dog’s itchy skin as they heal. Give your dog a homemade oatmeal bath or rub coconut oil on their skin. Both of these natural remedies work to ease your dog’s itchiness and restore their skin.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Dog Mange Treatment?

Dog insurance comes alongside pet parents to help cover the costs of diagnosing and treating mange. Monty, an Australian shepherd rescue pup, had a severe case of demodectic mange. Testing for and treating his mange cost the family around $850. However, their MetLife Pet Insurance policy covered about $675 of the vet bill.4

You may find that having dog insurance is worth it because it can give you coverage for various skin conditions your dog may face in their lifetime. Get started with a free quote today.

We Can Help You Protect Your Pup


 Dr. Hunter Finn

Dr. Hunter Finn has been paid by MetLife to discuss the importance of choosing pet insurance. He is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. He  owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends. 

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “Mange In Dogs: Symptoms And Treatments,” Forbes Advisor, 2023

2 “Mange in Dogs: What You Need to Know,” American Kennel Club, 2023

3 “Ivermectin Toxicity in Dogs,” petMD, 2022

4 All claims paid amounts are based on MetLife internal claims data from October 2022. Story altered for illustrative purposes.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

L1223036910[exp1225][All States][DC,GU,MP,PR,VI]