Canine scabies is a contagious skin disease that affects dogs of various breeds. Also known as sarcoptic mange, scabies in dogs is caused by small mites burrowing in the animal’s skin. While many dogs are unaffected by skin parasites, some can develop serious infections. Mange can range from mild to severe, depending on how much the mites reproduce.
Sarcoptic mange is caused by microscopic, oval mites that are light in color. The mites transfer easily and quickly from host to host, so any dog exposed to an infected animal is at risk. If you bring your dog to a kennel, dog park, clinic or groomer, you increase the chance of infection. Symptoms may not occur until several weeks after your pet has been exposed.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptoms of canine scabies are intense irritation and itching. If your pup is affected, he or she may persistently scratch the area. This can cause your dog’s hair to fall out. Other symptoms include reddened skin, sores, rashes and scabs in the affected areas. The most common places for scabies mites to burrow on a dog are the face, elbows and legs, however, mites can travel rapidly to other areas.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect your dog has canine scabies, take him or her to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Sarcoptic mange is treatable, but it’s highly contagious. To verify the presence of scabies mites, your vet will perform a physical exam and take skin scrapings. Once a diagnosis is made, the vet may prescribe an oral or topical medication to kill the mites. Ivermectin and selamectin are commonly used antiparasitic medications.
Your vet may also suggest that you use a scabicidal shampoo to clean your dog’s hair and skin. Medication to lessen the itching and decrease inflammation may also be prescribed. In some cases, dogs with sarcoptic mange develop secondary skin infections. If necessary, you can ask your veterinarian about medications to treat those as well.
Most medications only attack living mites and don’t kill the eggs. Because it can take time for the eggs to hatch, ongoing treatment will be necessary. In severe cases, the dog may need to be quarantined during treatment. Significant results generally are seen within one month. Young dogs often have more successful and rapid recoveries than older dogs.
While canine scabies is easily transferred between animals, there are measures you can take to protect your pet. Don’t expose your dog to any animals that have been diagnosed with the condition. Visit the veterinarian frequently, so your pup can be examined properly for mites. Having your dog’s skin scraped periodically is the best way to prevent serious infestations.
If your dog is diagnosed with this condition, you should completely clean any bedding he or she comes into contact with. Treat all other animals in the home as well. Once medication is prescribed, have your vet perform skin scrapes on each animal every couple weeks until the treatment ends.