SARCOPTIC: What You Need to Know


sarcoptic-overlay.pngSarcoptic Mange – Itchy. Contagious. Miserable.

The burrowing carnivorous mite Sarcoptes scabiei is responsible for causing Sarcoptic mange. It is sometimes known as the scabies mite or the itch mite. The microscopic parasites tunnel through the skin, causes what is considered to be the itchiest type of mange.

Sarcoptic mites are transmitted by simple contact. Your dog was just in the wrong 

place at the wrong time and a opportunistic parasite hopped aboard. They locate available food sources by sensing heat and odor.

Sarcoptic mange are transmitted by direct contact with an infested pet, person, or many species of wildlife or by environmental exposure. A dislodged mite can survive up to 5 days on their own. A dog that visits an infested area (where an infested host has deposited a few mites) can be infected without direct physical contact.

All it takes is one fertile female to start the cycle. She will begin laying eggs within 2 hours of infesting the dog; which hatch in 2-4 days. She will lay up to 90 eggs in her lifetime.

Key Facts:

  • Zoonotic - highly contagious to people & other pets
  • Will infest homes, cars, yards, other pets & people
  • Invisible flesh-eaters

Symptoms for all types of mange overlap and vary from none to severe from dog to dog, However, Sarcoptic almost always brings severe itching as the mite carve a maze of tunnels throughout the dogs epidermis. Some degree of hair loss is almost always a given as well.


Other possible symptoms include red and inflamed skin, crusty ear tips, and red pustules with yellow crusts. More subtle signs may include lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Intense discomfort can lead to nervous, restless or agitated behavior and possibly a habitual scratching habit. If the infestation goes untreated or is mistakenly treated, the skin may darken due to the constant irritation, and the surrounding lymph nodes may become enlarged.

Commonly affected areas include elbows, ears, armpits, hocks, chest, and belly, as these mites usually prefer areas that have less hair. As the infection worsens it can spread over the entire body.

If you are wondering about the difference between Demodectic and Sarcoptic mange, you might find our Mange Symptom Checker helpful. 

Key facts:

  • Sleep deprivation not uncommon due to nocturnal scratching
  • Symptoms begin to appear about 10 days after exposure
  • Bite marks may be visible on the surface of the skin
  • Itching may intensify in warm conditions
  • Unlike allergies, itching is non-seasonal
  • Self-injury or infection nay result from heavy scratching and biting

Sarcoptic mange is clinically diagnosed by examining a skin scrapings under a microscope. Obtaining a definitive diagnosis is difficult with this method. The problem is they are fast and difficult is to catch. Only 20% of cases have a positive scrape. Biopsies may also be used in certain circumstances with a similar degree of accuracy.

When the result is negative, the vet must diagnosis something recommend a treatment. If the dog does not respond, that particular diagnosis is ruled out and the vet prescribes another treatment for the next likely disorder. This technique is medically known as diagnosing by response to treatment. The lay term is trial and error. The downside of this method is the dog continues to suffer, the mange worsens and there is a risk of side effects from the unnecessary medications. 

In addition to the symptoms above, a telltale sign that may help with self-diagnosis is that other people and/or pets in your house start itching. Symptoms begin to appear about 10 days after exposure.

A simple home test known as the pinna-pedal reflex test is reportedly about 85% accurate in detecting Sarcoptes mites Vigorously rub one earflap, moving from the tip down to the base of the ear for at least five seconds. A positive result is indicated by the hind leg moving as if to scratch the ear. Ears usually have the mites and their sensitivity triggers a scratching reflex. Here is a video of one being performed. 

Key facts:

  • A negative skin scraping does not rule out Sarcoptic mange
  • Symptoms tend to come on fast & hard
  • Other 2- & 4-legged occupants itching indicates either Sarcoptic or Cheyletiella mite

Many different medical treatments are used for treatment. Some may not work because the mites have developed resistance. Neurotoxic chemicals such as ivermectin, amitraz and doramectin are often used. Depending on the dog’s condition, treatment may be required for as long as six weeks. Veterinarians also recommend topical pesticides like Revolution, Advantage Multi, Advocate, Frontline, etc. Topicals have a very low rate of success. Complete eradication may take up to 90 days with this method. The dog needs to be isolated during the entire treatment duration.

These chemicals do not kill on contact; the kill is delayed as the mites’ nervous system is slowly destroyed. The drugs systemically spread throughout the entire body even though only the upper layers of skin are affected. The same properties that kill mites can also cause neurological and physiological reactions. The rate of side effects is high while their failure rate is roughly 30%.

However, some dogs do just fine. Regardless, these chemicals should always be used with extreme caution. As more and more information about chemical treatments is revealed, a greater number of responsible pet guardians are embracing Hippocrates’ oath, “First, do no harm”.

Most discussions on treating mange focus solely on chemical options. Motivated researchers can discover options ranging from home remedies to commercial products. Some are benign but useless, others dangerous. Aside from motor oil, reliable data on the safety of alternative treatments is scarce. Efficacy rates are anecdotal and untrackable. At Happy Dog Naturals we only concern ourselves with the safety and effectiveness of our products which is unparalleled. If you read what our customers have to say, Mite Avenge is ruthless on Sarcoptic mites.

Treating mites naturally is absolutely the safest way to go and in our opinion, the kindest. Nature provides us with powerful substances to treat mange without further insulting an animal’s health. Mite Avenge’s natural miticides are gentle, have nearly no chance of reactions or side effects, are non-chemical, non-toxic, and mites cannot become immune to them. Mite Avenge is the most effective natural mange cure you’ll find. It’s safe, highly effective and in the long run, generally more cost-effective all while being merciless on mites.

Eliminating Sarcoptic mange with Mite Avenge gets your dog out of misery quickly. Most dogs feel remarkably better within a day or two and the entire process is complete in 2 weeks. Average cases require 3 treatments of Mite Avenge, once every 7 days. This breaks the mites’ life cycle far faster than chemicals. Our 3-bottle multi-pack is appropriate for most single dog situations. On rare occasions extreme situations require more treatments. Additional Sarcoptic supplies can be found here, if needed. Severe infestations and certain sizes of dogs may take slightly longer.

With both chemical and natural treatments, all household pets must be treated whether they are symptomatic or not. With Mite Avenge, household decontamination is necessary for success and a key part of such a short treatment cycle. The lengthy treatment cycle of chemicals largely avoids household reinfestation because the mite population gradually self-exterminates in that amount of time. Decontamination is not helpful as the mites can re-invade minutes after the household has been decontaminated. When using natural treatments with no residual effects, removing rogue mites from the pet’s environment is an essential step to avoid reinfestation. With Mite Avenge’s short treatment period it is essential. Decontamination is basically some elbow grease and maybe some Diatomaceous Earth. Here’s a complete rundown of everything you need to do. 

Key facts:

  • Fast, mobile & invasive. Penetrates skin in 25–30 minutes
  • Every person & pet is potentially both a carrier and victim
  • Reinfestation common without household decontamination
  • Herding breeds such as Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, English Shepherds, Collies do not tolerate chemical treatments well. Fatalities have occurred.
  • No preventative measures for Sarcoptic mange.
  • Avoid returning to areas where you suspect transmission occurred

Well, what are you waiting for? Go get started!