Skip to main content
White and dog laying on the grass

Is my puppy’s mange contagious?

Q: We took Jake, our 10-week-old pit bull, to the veterinarian because he has very little hair and scratches almost constantly, even though we see no fleas. The vet said Jake has Demodex mites and prescribed a monthly chewable pill that kills them as well as fleas and ticks. Where could Jake have caught the mites? Can he pass them to us or our other dog?

A: Demodex mites are normally present in small numbers on dogs' skin, so you don't need to worry about Jake passing them to other dogs. And since these mites are species-specific, they won't spread to humans, cats or other pets.

In some puppies, an inherited immune system abnormality causes the mites to proliferate. Fortunately, treatment is effective, and the condition rarely returns. The disease also can develop in an adult dog whose immune system is suppressed.

Demodex mites are microscopic, cigar-shaped creatures that live in hair follicles. If they proliferate, they cause demodectic mange, also called demodicosis (pronounced "de mo di CO sis"), that can be localized or generalized. Clinical signs include hair loss, crusting, redness, scabs and thickened skin. Scratching occurs in dogs with secondary skin infections.

The diagnosis is confirmed by seeing Demodex mites with the microscope. Affected dogs should be sterilized so they don't pass on the genetic predisposition to demodicosis and because recurrences are common during a female's heat cycles.

Treatment options include medication to kill the mites, a shampoo or gel that flushes the mites from the hair follicles, and an antibiotic if the skin is infected.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at vet@askthevet.pet

dog out for walk in nature

After a long winter indoors, most of us...

dog outside chasing ball

Depending on where you live, it may not...

cute dog and cat

Folliculitis is a common infection that...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

small dog playing with toy

Your dog won’t come up to you and say, “I’m...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...

Woman with two dogs checking her phone

Technology has changed almost every aspect...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

Cat scratching on a cat post

You may have heard the phrase, “Cats can’t...