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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Scabies (Sarcoptic Mange)




Condition Overview

Scabies, tiny spider-like mites, are highly contagious and are transmitted primarily by direct contact and through contaminated grooming equipment and kennels. These mites are transferable to humans and other pets.


Scabies attacks the skin of the ears, elbows, hocks, and the underside of the chest and face. The onset is abrupt with scratching, hair loss, and inflamed skin in these areas. Crusty ear tips are characteristic. A classic test for scabies is to wear gloves and rub the ear flap between your fingers and watch the dog scratch on the same side. In later stages, the skin becomes thick, crusted, scaly, and darkly pigmented.

Scabies in people can produce an itchy rash, typically found at the belt line. This rash is caused by the insects that have transferred from the dog. Scabies mites, however, do not live on the human skin for longer than 3 weeks. If the problem does not disappear in 3 weeks, look for a continuing source of infestation.


Scabies is caused by an infestation of Sarcoptes mites. They are transmitted primarily by direct contact and through contaminated grooming equipment and kennels.


The diagnosis is made by examining skin scrapings under a microscope. In some cases, the mites may not be identified. If the dog's symptoms strongly suggest scabies, your vet may decide to begin treatment as a diagnostic test. A positive response to treatment confirms the diagnosis of scabies.


Scabies must be treated under veterinary supervision. Clip the hair away from scabies affected areas on medium and long haired dogs and bathe the entire animal using benzoyl peroxide shampoo (such as OxyDex or Pyoben). The shampoo loosens scales and makes it possible for an insecticide dip to penetrate the hair pores.

Scabies mites have developed resistance to a number of organophosphate dips. Two dips that remain active against them are amitraz (Mitaban) and 2 - 4% lime-sulfer (LymDyp). Only lime-sulfer is licensed by the FDA to treat scabies in dogs. LymDyp has an unpleasant odor, stains white coats, and can irritate the skin.

Dip the dog once a week for 6 weeks or until the symptoms resolve. Continue treatment for two more weeks after the dog appears to be cured. When using any dip, carefully follow the instructions on the label. It is important to treat all dogs who have come into contact with the individual.

Oral ivermectin is effective against scabies and is frequently used as a diagnostic test when skin scrapings have been negative. Ivermectin, in doses used for scabies, has produced central nervous system problems and deaths in Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Old English Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, and other herding breeds and their crosses. The drug is contraindicated in these breeds at the higher dosages. Dogs of these breeds may be tested for the MDR 1 (multi drug resistance) gene by having you vet send a check swab to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Always have the heartworm status of your dog checked before giving ivermectin, because it may cause a reaction in dogs who are positive for the heartworm larvae. Recent reports suggest that Interceptor (milbemycin oxime) may also be effective against scabies mites, and could be used in the place of ivermectin in breeds in which ivermectin is contraindicated. Revolution (selamectin) is also labeled to help in preventing and treating sarcoptic mange in dogs.

Corticosteroids relieve severe itching and may be required for the first 2 - 3 days of treatment. Infected skin sores require oral and topical antibiotics.

Using similar techniques to sanitizing an indoor environment for fleas and ticks is also recommended to prevent recurrence.
NOTE: NEVER pour oil on your pet to attempt to treat a mange type condition. When the pet consumes this oil they will get sickly.


Ensure that your grooming salon and boarding facilities practice high levels of sanitation on daily - in the case of grooming salons, pet by pet - basis. Ask what types of disinfectant cleaners they use to prevent the transmission of disease from one pet to another. If your grooming or boarding facility utilizes best practices in sanitation, you will see far fewer (if any) cases of Scabies.

Recent reports suggest that Interceptor (milbemycin oxime) may also be effective against scabies mites.


Please contact your veterinarian to help exterminate the scabies infestation.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The Howell Book Of Dogs

Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Author: Liz Palika

Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats

Publisher: Bantam Dell Publishing, 1996

Website: http://www.randomhouse.com/bantamdell/

Authors: Matthew Hoffman, Laura Catalano, Maryanne Dell

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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