Sarcoptes vs Demodex mites

Mange in our pet dogs is caused by several species of microscopic mites that live on or in the skin. They cause intense itching which in turn causes hair loss and scabs from the trauma of scratching. If your pet has a sudden onset of being more itchy than normal it warrants a trip to your veterinarian to see what the cause could be.

Demodex mites are the cause of the most common form of mange. Called demodectic mange, it is characterized by patchy hair loss. Demodex mites are found in small numbers on dog’s skin normally. They only cause issues when their immune system is compromised leading to an overgrowth of mites. For this reason, they usually are found in immune compromised older individuals or young animals that have not yet developed a full immune system. Only dogs can be affected by Demodex mites as they are not able to live on any other hosts. Most of the time this form of mange only occurs in spots and not throughout the entire hair coat. These localized areas will most likely resolve on their own.

Sarcoptes mites cause sarcoptic mange which is also known as Scabies when it occurs in humans. Sarcoptic mange is much more itchy and will cause much more severe symptoms typically than Demodectic mange. These mites can live on other species so your dog can transmit them to you, or your cat, or even your pocket pets. This is the type of mange more commonly thought of when an animal is described as “mangy”. As these mites are highly contagious they can spread rapidly in close contact situations.


Article written by: Heather