Sarcoptic mange, more commonly known as scabies, is one of the oldest known skin diseases. It is caused by burrowing mites below the surface Sarcoptic mange, more commonly known as scabies, is one of the oldest known skin diseases. It is caused by burrowing mites below the surface of the skin.
Scabies can be easily transferable between pets, but is it possible for pet owners to get scabies from their dog?
What Is Scabies
Mite Sarcoptes scabiei is a disease transmitted through a highly contagious mite.
It is commonly found on domestic and wild dogs, as well as canids (wolves, foxes, and coyotes). An adult Sarcoptes scabiei mite can live three to four weeks in the host's skin.
The adults will move about the surface of the skin where they mate. Female mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin to lay their eggs. The tunnels will appear as white/grey lesions.
The mites spread easily through close contact, usually at doggie daycares, grooming parlors, or dog parks. Scabies is not caused by bad hygiene, but regular checks and grooming will help maintain healthy skin.
Symptoms Of Scabies
The first sign you may notice is a red rash slowly developing over time to dry, flakey skin. Eventually, the skin will become thickened and blackened.
Scabies will cause itching resulting in the formation of scabs and hair loss. Areas, where the hair is thinner, are usually most affected. Ears, elbows, hocks, and chest tend to be more severely affected.
The itching may interfere with your dog's eating and sleeping habits. In some severe cases, dogs will show signs of appetite and weight loss.
Scabies can be challenging to diagnose as skin scrapings are not always definitive. The mites are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye.
How To Treat An Infection
Although hard to diagnose, treatment is straightforward in most cases. There are many different options for treatment, depending on the severity of the infection.
All dogs in a household where scabies is present will need to be treated. It is possible for some dogs to harbor mites but not display any symptoms.
You can purchase products like sprays, washes, and spot-on treatments. Some vets will recommend chewable tablets. Response time can take between two to six weeks to take effect.
Some vets may recommend a dosage of antibiotics if there is a risk of a bacterial infection. This can occur from scratching and breaking the skin where the burrowed tunnels are.
As the response to the mite is an allergic reaction, consult your vet about a cortisone treatment to quell the itching. To help relieve some itching, you can try therapeutic shampoos or rinses.
What Are Some Preventative Measures
Scabies mites do not live long in the environment, so decontamination of the home is not necessary.
Wash any bedding or blankets your dog uses in warm water and detergent. If necessary, throw away any used bedding; however, the risk of reinfection in the home is low. If scabies returns, it is likely due to contact with an infected dog.
Do not allow your dog to be boarded in a kennel or play with other dogs until treatment is completed.
Create a parasite treatment plan all year round to prevent the risk of ticks, fleas, and other mites.
Can Your Dog Give You Scabies
Scabies is Zoonotic, meaning it can be passed from animals to humans. Pet owners that have close contact with an infected dog may experience some itching and a skin rash. This will appear on the wrists, forearms, and ankles.
Although humans can develop their own strain of scabies, humans are a 'dead-end' for animal mites as they cannot live on human skin.
After the dog has been treated, human symptoms will disappear. If symptoms persist, you should consult your healthcare professional for help.
To reduce the risk of infection, keep your dog in good health by checking the skin after staying at a kennel or playing with other dogs. If infected, reduce the spread by keeping your dog clear from others until the treatment is complete.
Any signs of persistent scratching, hair loss or red skin, seek veterinary assistance for diagnosis. Keep your dog's parasite control treatments up to date all year round.