Mange is one of the most common skin diseases in stray dogs who come into the care of IAPWA. This debilitating infection is widespread but can also be easily treated.

What is mange?

Mange is a skin condition caused by tiny mites living in hair follicles or burrowing into a dog’s skin, causing intense itching and inflammation. There are two types of mites that are transmitted in two different ways.

Demodectic mange, caused by the mite Demodex canis living in hair follicles, is relatively rare. The mites are usually passed from mother to puppies, and a few can be found on most dogs. These mites generally only cause problems in dogs with a compromised immune system and aren’t contagious. Sarcoptic mange (also known as canine scabies) is caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei burrowing into a dog’s skin. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious through contact between dogs and is therefore extremely common.

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What are the symptoms of mange?

Sarcoptic mange targets skin with minimal hair and will usually first be apparent in the ears, around the belly, and in the armpits. Mites burrowing into the dogs’ skin cause severe itching and inflammation, provoking the dog to scratch and frequently bite at the infected areas. The skin becomes traumatised and develops scabs and sores, which, untreated, are prone to secondary infections. Without medicine, these infections can be debilitating and easily become life-threatening.

Demodectic mange shows up in various forms. In puppies, it will most commonly show up as patches of scaly skin. In adult dogs, the whole body can be covered in patches, or it will remain localised to the face or paws. The mites themselves aren’t itchy; however, it is common for secondary infections to develop, causing itching, inflammation and foul odours. As many of the dogs who develop symptomatic demodectic mange have compromised immunity, the secondary infections can quickly become life-threatening.

How IAPWA treats dogs with mange

Across our projects, IAPWA aims to provide crucial veterinary medicine and treatment to dogs in need. Through our veterinary clinics and fully equipped mobile clinic, we regularly reach out to strays and treat them for this debilitating disease.

Treatment usually starts with medicated baths, which help kill the mites and clean up any infected areas or wounds. We can then go on to provide these dogs with antibiotics and topical creams to fight the secondary infections and soothe their raw skin. We can also give them a treatment that can prevent recurrence for a time. Successful treatment of mange can take between a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the infection. Many stray dogs who have been suffering from this infection will also have concurrent health problems such as wounds from defending their territory and malnutrition.

With your help, we can nurse these dogs back to full health and then either find them a loving, forever home or vaccinate, neuter and release them back into a far more comfortable life in their local community.


We see a large number of patients with mange come through our doors every single month. Please consider setting up a Monthly Donation to support these brave strays, and help them on their journey to recovery. Alternatively, you can purchase the kind Virtual Gift of Mange Treatment to support one of our patients via the IAPWA Shop.

Written by: Stacey Walters
Veterinary Nurse