The term “mangy mutt” is a common colloquialism, but is often used incorrectly. People often use the phrase to describe a dog that is dirty, unkempt, or smelly, but mange is actually a well-defined medical condition that causes coat and skin problems for dogs.
Mange isn’t terribly common, but some types are very contagious, and they can turn life upside down for both you and your dog – at least temporarily.
Fortunately, mange is relatively easy to treat with your vet’s help, and there are a number of good shampoos designed to help restore and soothe your dog’s skin while he heals.
We’ll recommend five of the best options below, but we’ll begin by explaining mange and the symptoms it causes.
Quick Picks: Best Dog Shampoos for Mange
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Two Different Types of Mange
Dogs typically have a few different types of tiny mites living on their skin. Most go about their lives without causing your dog any problems; you won’t even know they exist. However, there are a few types of mites that can cause problems – specifically mange.
Mange comes in two basic forms, which are caused by two different mite species.
Sarcoptic mange in dogs is caused by a species of microscopic mite called Sarcoptes scabei. These mites, which are also called sarcoptic mites or scabies mites, are quite contagious, and they readily spread from one dog to another. These mites typically colonize a dog’s head or legs first before spreading all over the body.
The primary symptom of sarcoptic mange is intense, overwhelming itchiness. Dogs may scratch constantly and appear quite frantic while doing so. The skin may become reddened, welts may appear, and hair loss may also occur in some cases.
Humans can contract sarcoptic mites from dogs, although the condition is generally called scabies in humans.
Unlike sarcoptic mites, which typically cause problems when present, demodectic mites (Demodex canis) don’t usually irritate your dog. They already live on the skin of most dogs and form part of the normal microfauna living on your pup’s body.
However, demodectic mites can agitate dogs with compromised immune systems, such as those who are ill, stressed, very young or very old. In such cases, the mites can proliferate and overwhelm your dog’s defenses. These types of infestations can occur in a single location or they can affect the entire body.
Demodectic mange typically causes hair loss, and the affected skin takes on a scaly appearance. Bacterial infections can also occur in response to the mites, which further complicate treatment. In some cases, demodectic mange can recur repeatedly, necessitating lengthy treatment regimens.
Demodectic mange is technically contagious, but it doesn’t typically spread in the same way that sarcoptic mange does. Most dogs already have demodectic mites on their skin – it is only those that have a weakened immune system or some type of underlying medical condition that display symptoms. Humans do not get demodectic mange.
Basic Treatment Plan for Mange
The first thing you should do if you suspect your dog is battling mange is visit your vet and follow his or her advice.
Your vet can help you diagnose the problem, as many other skin and coat ailments can mimic mange. He or she will also help distinguish between the two types of mange and prescribe an appropriate antiparasitic medication to eradicate the bugs. Your dog may also need antibiotics to eliminate any secondary bacterial infections brought on by the mites.
While going through the treatment process, you’ll want to use a mange shampoo. Note that most over-the-counter mange shampoos are unlikely to eradicate the mite population; they’re designed to help soothe and restore the health of your pet’s skin. However, there are a few over-the-counter shampoos that contain sulfur, which is an outdated, yet effective, method for killing mites.
If your dog is suffering from sarcoptic mange, you’ll also need to eradicate any mites or eggs on your pet’s bedding. Of course, you’ll also have to treat any other dogs (or people) who’ve contracted the mites. Otherwise, the infestation will persist.
The Five Best Dog Shampoos for Mange
The following five shampoos are among the best options for dogs with mange.
1. SynergyLabs Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo
About: SynergyLabs Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo is an over-the-counter pet shampoo designed to treat a range of skin conditions, including bacterial and fungal infections in addition to mange
- GENTLE SOOTHING – Helps promote a healthy skin and coat free of flaky, dry, or overly oily skin...
- FAST ACTING – Works fast with powerful ingredients that help shed dry skin and hydrate your pet's...
- VET-RECOMMENDED – This paraben, dye, and soap-free pet shampoo has gentle cleansers and is made...
- FORMULATED FOR DOGS – Specifically formulated for dogs, this pH-balanced shampoo is unlike human...
Features: Although SynergyLabs’ Medicated Shampoo is available without a prescription, it contains sulfur, which will help kill sarcoptic mites. Coal tar and salicylic acid are also incorporated into the shampoo, which help to soften the skin and loosen dead skin cells, respectively.
SynergyLabs Medicated Shampoo is also helpful for treating scaly skin and degreasing your dog’s hair, and it also contains oatmeal to moisturize your dog’s skin.
It is made without any parabens, dyes or soaps, which may irritate the skin of some dogs.
You’ll want to use it like most other pet shampoos, except that you need to let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing it off. As with most medicated dog shampoos, you’ll need to use care to keep it out of your pet’s eyes.
Most owners who tried SynergyLabs Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Shampoo were very pleased with their purchase and found that it helped treat their dog’s skin and coat problems. Many reported that it moisturized their dog’s skin and soothed itchy rashes, and it even appears to have been effective in eliminating sarcoptic mange mites.
There aren’t many downsides to SynergyLabs Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Shampoo, except that it isn’t safe for cats. This means you’ll have to purchase a separate product to help treat your cat’s skin and coat problems.
2. Evolution Pets Medicated Mange Shampoo
About: Evolution Pets Medicated Mange Shampoo is designed to help soothe your pet’s itchy, inflamed, or crusty skin with all-natural ingredients
- BEST DOG MANGE SHAMPOO. The top rated NATURAL remedy. RenuPlex Extra Strength works to help damaged...
- ALL NATURAL AND SAFE. RenuPlex Dog Shampoo is safe and effective. RenuPlex with has been used by...
Features: Despite its name, Evolution Pets Medicated Mange Shampoo is made without any medications. Instead, it is made with all-natural ingredients, most of which are plant-based. The manufacturers of Evolution Pets Medicated Shampoo state that the product kills all life stages of mites. They even back this claim with a 100% unconditional money-back guarantee.
Even if this product doesn’t kill the mites, it certainly contains a number of ingredients – including aloe vera, oatmeal, and eucalyptus oils — which will nourish your dog’s skin and help your pooch feel better.
Evolution Pets Medicated Shampoo is made in the USA and can be used in the same basic manner that most pet shampoos are. Owners are, however, encouraged to comb their dog’s hair after bathing their pooch with the product.
Most owners who tried this shampoo found that it provided quick relief for their pup and put an end to their constant itchiness. Its all-natural formula is a big selling point for some owners, and several people pointed out that the product smells nice.
While this product will help your dog’s skin feel better, you will probably still need an antiparasitic medication to eradicate the mange mites.
3. Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Pet Shampoo
About: Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Pet Shampoo is designed to help treat a number of skin and coat ailments, including problems associated with demodectic mange
- Benzoyl peroxide shampoo helps provide relief from demodectic mange and dermatitis
- Excellent degreaser for problem coats
- Aids in the opening and flushing of hair follicles
- Contains natural moisturizers to promote hydration of the coat and skin
Features: Davis Pet Shampoo contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, a common dermatological medication used in both human and veterinary medicine. This medication not only helps moisturize your dog’s skin, it also helps to flush the hair follicles, which can reduce inflammation and allow the follicles to drain more effectively.
Additionally, Davis Pet Shampoo utilizes a 1- to 3-micron benzoyl peroxide powder, a much finer powder than that used by many other pet shampoos. This allows the medication to penetrate deeper into your dog’s skin and coat, to provide the most effective treatment possible.
Davis Pet Shampoo should be used like most typical pet shampoos, except that you should leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing your pet. It’s also important to avoid getting the product in your pet’s eyes.
Most owners reported that Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Pet Shampoo helped to treat a variety of skin ailments, and a few even explained that it helped their dogs get over demodectic mange. Additionally, while a number of owners reported that it did have a slightly “medicated” odor, it wasn’t as bad as many competing products.
Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Pet Shampoo will not kill sarcoptic mites, although it may help soothe some of the associated itching and inflammation. Additionally, this product reportedly bleached the fur of some dogs.
4. Pet MD Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo
About: Pet MD Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo is intended to help address many common skin and coat conditions, including the skin problems associated with mange.
- Relief of Scaling and Itching from Dermatitis, Skin Infections, and Follicular Plugging to Stop...
- Medicated Shampoo for Relieving Dry Itchy and Irritated Skin.
- Peroxide, Micronized Sulfur and Salicylic Acid for Powerful Cleaning and Degreasing.
Features: Like several other shampoos that help treat some of the symptoms caused by mange, Pet MD Medicated Shampoo contains 3% benzoyl peroxide. However, it also includes 2% salicylic acid to help remove dead skin cells (which can even help eliminate canine acne), and 2% sulfur, which may help kill any mites present.
Pet MD Medicated Shampoo is free of soaps and parabens and can be used like most other pet shampoos. However, the manufacturer recommends that you leave it on your dog for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off, to maximize its skin-soothing potential.
Unlike many other medicated shampoos, which have offensive odors, Pet MD Medicated Shampoo has a pleasant, citrusy scent. Pet MD Medicated Shampoo is made in the USA, at a federally regulated manufacturing facility.
Pet MD Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo is one of the few over-the-counter shampoos that may be effective in killing sarcoptic mites. It may also treat a number of other skin conditions, including rashes, dry skin, and yeast infections.
There aren’t many problems with Pet MD Benzoyl Peroxide Medicated Shampoo. It is, however, a bit more expensive than many competing products.
5. Nootie Medicated Shampoo
About: Nootie Medicated Shampoo is a moisturizing pet shampoo that is made with antibacterial and antifungal medications, which can help keep your dog’s skin and coat as healthy as possible while battling mange.
- HELPS ALLEVIATE SKIN CONDITIONS - Ideal for helping relieve issues like hotspots, dry itchy skin,...
- Our non-irritating shampoo helps prevent topical skin infections. For best results, use with Nootie...
Features: Nootie Medicated Shampoo is made with both chlorhexidine gluconate and miconazole nitrate. Neither of these medications will eradicate mange mites, but they can help to prevent or eliminate bacterial or fungal problems, which often occur in dogs with mange. Nootie Medicated Shampoo also contains essential oils, which may help moisturize your pet’s skin.
Like most other medicated shampoos, you should leave Nootie Medicated Shampoo on your dog’s body for about 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off. This will allow the medications the time they need to work. Just be sure to keep the shampoo out of your dog’s eyes, nose, and ears.
Nootie Medicated Shampoo is also backed by the manufacturer’s satisfaction guarantee, which should ease the mind of any concerned canine owners.
Nootie Medicated Shampoo helped many owners treat their dog’s skin and coat conditions. It doesn’t contain any ingredients that are likely to kill sarcoptic mites, but it will likely help address some of the irritation and itchiness that they cause.
Nootie Medicated Shampoo is the most expensive option of those we recommend, however, it is a very concentrated product, so a little goes a long way.
Our Recommendation: SynergyLabs Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo
SynergyLabs Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo is one of only two mange shampoos we could find that contains ingredients that may help kill sarcoptic mites, and it is also made with several skin- and coat-supporting ingredients. These ingredients will help improve your dog’s skin and coat health, while you wage war on the mites on his skin.
This topic strikes a strong chord with me as I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing sarcoptic mites first hand.
I was a mere 18 years of age and had just moved out on my own. I made a very bad decision for all the right reasons and adopted a cute little chow mix from a very sketchy dude because I felt sorry for her.
Two weeks later, I discover that the poor pooch had mange. In fact, she not only had mange, she spread it to me.
And all three of my roommates.
And both other dogs who already lived in the home.
So, heed my advice: Mange (especially the sarcoptic variety) is a maddening medical condition that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It isn’t super common, and the treatment for it is relatively straightforward, but you’ll want to observe your dog closely for the first signs of the condition and act quickly and decisively.
Have you ever battled these infernal mites? How’d it go? Were they easy to treat?
Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
May 4, 2021
Our new rescue dog Chloe has been diagnosed with sarcoptic mange, and I definitely need a support group! She’s being treated with Revolution Selamectin. We’ve isolated her to the kitchen area, which we are now cleaning with lysol several times a day, and washing her bedding every day too. My husband clearly has his own infestation, and I’m trying to decide if any little itch I have is psychosomatic or parasitic. Other than extensive cleaning, and a lot of patience, is there anything else you can recommend?
May 4, 2021
Oh, no! We’re so sorry to hear that, Nancy!
It sounds like you’re on the right track regarding Chloe’s treatment, and the daily cleaning will certainly prove helpful (read: necessary) too. You may also want to mop the kitchen floor frequently and vacuum your carpets on a daily basis too.
Just hang in there and try your best to stay on top of things.
As for you and your husband, just be sure to see your doctor and get a prescription for killing the little buggers crawling on you guys. It’s probably possible that you’ll avoid contracting the mites yourself, but — personally — I wouldn’t think that’s very likely.
I’m not sure if it’s still the standard of care, but when I had to deal with sarcoptic mites, we had to sleep in a chin-to-toe coating of medicine. Good news? It worked. Bad news? Good luck getting a good night’s sleep while slathered in the stuff.
We wish you, your husband, and Chloe the very best of luck!
February 19, 2021
is there a spray we can use to kill mites on rugs & spots my dog lays?
February 22, 2021
Most pet-safe flea-killing sprays (designed for use around your home) should work, but we’d also recommend vacuuming the area thoroughly (and using a steam cleaner would be even better).
Just be sure that you use the spray in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations — especially if you have cats or other pets, as many are more sensitive to flea-killing products than dogs are.
Best of luck!