Dog Mange caused by the scabies mite (sarcoptes scabei) can sometimes be overlooked. Mange in dogs causes an intense itchiness and can be contagious to other pets and human family members. Dr. Sam discusses common symptoms of dog mange and what you can do to help your veterinarian diagnose this condition.
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Mange in Dogs
Today let’s talk about scabies mange in dogs. Scabies is caused by an ectoparasite called sarcoptes scabei. It is a skin mite. Scabies can cause an intense itchiness and a lot of skin issues. It also is highly contagious. It can be contagious to other pets in the household as well as the human members of the household.
What are the symptoms? Again, itchiness is the main symptom, and a particular pattern of itchiness is often seen. Usually it starts out on the distal extremities - the feet, tail, ear tips - and then works its way up. There will also be hair loss, sores and other lesions where the dog has chewed on itself. We try to diagnose it with a skin scraping. A skin scraping is a procedure where we take a dull scalpel blade and scrape the surface of the skin gently but firmly with a little mineral oil applied as well and see if we can pick up any mites. We then look at the scrapings on a slide under the microscope. If we see any mites, we have a definitive diagnosis. If we don’t see mites on the skin scraping, I don’t rule out scabies. Sometimes the lymph nodes in the area are also enlarged and that can give us a clue as well.
There are many, many cases that are wrongly assumed to not be scabies because mites were not found on a skin scraping. So if I have a recurrent skin condition that is not resolving, I’ll often treat for scabies anyway. And the treatment is really simple. We use a heartworm preventative, Revolution, that is put on topically. You administer two doses, two weeks apart. Again when I have a recurrent skin condition that is not healing, I will go ahead and treat anyway for scabies. So if your dog is intensely itchy, and you’re finding you are not getting anywhere with the diagnosis, then scabies may be something to bring up with your veterinarian.
– Sam Meisler DVM
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