There are three main types of mange that affect the skin of dogs. Mange is caused by a mite that burrows into the dog's skin. Each type of mange has its own species of mite. Both sarcoptic mange and Cheyletiella mange are highly contagious and can spread from coyotes to dogs, and even to cats and people. Demodectic mange is not contagious.
Also known as "walking dandruff," this mange mite is visible to the naked eye as small, moving specks. It is very itchy, but does not usually affect dogs with healthy immune systems. These mites can live several days off of the host, so if your dog comes into contact with areas where coyotes have been, it can spread. Cheyletiella mange is easy to control with insecticides that treat fleas but since it is so contagious, all animals that have been exposed must be treated to prevent re-infestation. The mites in the environment can be killed with a household fogger.
Demodectic mange is less bothersome to the dog, but much more difficult to treat. It is only spread from the mother dog to puppies by direct contact, so this is one mange you don't need to worry about spreading from coyotes.
Sarcoptic mange is the type of mange that most people think of when they hear the word mange. It causes extreme itchiness and hair loss, thickening of the skin and crusty sores. The mites can live longer off the host than Cheyletiella mites, up to 22 days. To get rid of this pest, you will need to treat the dog with a product specifically designed to control mange. Ask your veterinarian for treatment options.
To prevent mange from spreading from coyotes to dogs, the best approach is to prevent coyotes from coming near where dogs are kept. Consider a tall fence with a roll bar across the top to prevent coyotes from coming in your yard. Since coyotes also are known to attack pets, do not allow cats or small dogs outside unsupervised.
coyote image by Sue McMurtrie from Fotolia.com