Mite Infestation Alert! Sarcoptic Mange/Scabies In Dogs
Thu, February 2, 2023

Mite Infestation Alert! Sarcoptic Mange/Scabies In Dogs


Sarcoptic mange or canine scabies is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, a parasitic mite, that buries itself just below the surface of the skin, said Ernest Ward, DVM, of VCA, an operator of over 1,000 animal hospitals in the US and Canada. The mites burrow into the skin of healthy adult canines and puppies, feeding on the material in and on the skin. Scabies is zoonotic, transmitting the disease from pets to humans.

Knowledge and Prevalence of Canine Scabies

Heli S. Raval and colleagues of journal portal Research Gate found that 60.83% of respondents were aware that scabies has lesions on dogs such as papule, vesicle on head, neck, etc. 73.33% said that scabies has lesions on people such as vesicle on the hand, finger, chest, forearm, thigh, leg, navel, penis, and inguinal area. 55.83% were aware that mites (Sarcoptes scabies) on dogs’ bodies can be transmitted via direct contact with or contaminated fomites.

83.33% were ware that scabies cause dogs’ skin to become reddish while 65.83% said scabies may occur if an animal rubs on the wall or if a carpet man gets infected.  120 owners from Ahmedabad, Anand, and Vadodara, Gujarat state, India were randomly selected in the study. In Guangzhou, Southern China, the overall prevalence of S. scabiei in dogs was 1.18%, according to Yi-Zhou Chen and colleagues of Hindawi, a commercial publisher of scientific, technical, and medical literature. S. scabiei was slightly more prevalent in female dogs (1.23%) than male dogs (1.15%).

S. scabiei was more prevalent during the winter (1.42%) followed by summer (1.39%), autumn (1.1%), and spring (0.63%). It was also more prevalent in pet dogs aged less than one year (1.35%) than those of other age groups. For example, dogs aged between one to five years had a prevalence rate of 1.08% and those aged over five years reported a 0.83% prevalence. S. scabiei was the most prevalent in Pekingese (21.88%) and it was the least prevalent in Papillons (5.26%) and Bichon Frise (3.19%). Yi-Zhou Chen and colleagues said that the prevalence of S. scabiei (1.18%) was higher than reported in Nigeria (2%) and Iran (5.56%). However, these differences might be due to varying climate conditions like humidity, temperature, and the susceptibility of various dog breeds. Integrated control strategies and measures are needed to prevent and manage S. scabiei in pet dogs in Guangzhou and across China.



What Is Mange?

Mange is caused by mites, explained Mara Bovsun of the American Kennel Club, a recognized and trusted expert in providing information about dog breed, health, and training. Mange is derived from the French word “mangeue,” which means into “to eat or itch.” In dogs, there are two major forms of mange, namely sarcoptic mange or scabies or demodectic mange. The latter is known as red mange or demodex.  

How Does Scabies Affect My Dog?

Sarcoptic mites cause intense itching, making your dog chew and scratch its skin incessantly. Excess chewing and scratching cause huge amounts of hair to be lost, especially on the belly and legs. The skin gradually darkens and becomes thickened. As a highly contagious disease, scabies can be transmitted between dogs through direct contact and shared bedding, stated Blue Cross, an animal charity in the UK. In rare cases, dogs can get scabies from infected urban foxes.

What Are the Signs of Scabies?

In general, symptoms usually appear 10 days to eight weeks after contact with an infected dog. The first signs of scabies will manifest on the margins of the ears, elbows, hocks, belly, and chest. Symptoms can spread quickly if left untreated. The most common signs include extreme itchiness, hair loss, emaciation (in extreme cases of scabies), bacteria and yeast infections, thick yellow crusts, redness and rashes, thickening of the skin (advanced cases), and lymph node inflammation (advanced cases).



How Is Scabies Diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will scrape your dog’s skin and examine it under the microscope. Mange mites are not usually seen when performing skin scraping as mites bury deep into the skin. Only a few mites inside the skin can lead to significant itching.  While mites are not seen, it does not mean that your pet does not have scabies. Hence, a presumptive diagnosis may be required based on your dog’s clinical signs.

How Is Scabies Treated?

Your veterinarian will discuss the best treatment plan for your pet after taking into account its condition and lifestyle. Treatment plans range from medicated baths and dips to oral medications and injections. Many pets will require to undergo a combination of treatment options to treat scabies. Topical treatments may be divided into dips and topicals. Some examples of dips to treat Sarcoptes are amitraz and lime-sulfur dip. Your veterinarian will teach you how to use these dips. Alternatively, topicals are applied to one or two spots while your pet is dry. Topicals are applied every 14 to 30 days or per the recommendation of your veterinarian. Some examples of topicals are selamectin, imidacloprid and moxidectin, fipronil, and more.

There are also a variety of oral medications available for treating scabies. Oral medications may be prescribed in the form of a pill, a flavored chew, or a liquid, though this depends on the medication prescribed by your veterinarian. Oral medications include milbemycin, afoxolaner, fluralaner, sarolaner. When treating scabies, the aforementioned medications are used “off label,” meaning that the drugs are used for conditions other than what it was initially approved for. In fact, many of them are prescribed for multiple treatments. To prevent the re-infection, discard any bedding or wash it frequently. Dilute your dog’s bedding in bleach solution (one ounce bleach in one gallon of water). Contact your veterinarian quickly if your dog keeps scratching itself four to five days after the treatment.



Can I Get Infected With Scabies?

Unfortunately, yes. If your or anyone in your household develops itching or rashes, contact your family doctor as soon as possible. Inform the professional that you might have been exposed to scabies. In human hosts, the mite cannot complete its life cycle. Still, it may cause significant itching, and treatment may be needed to address it.


Scabies can be transmitted to animals to humans. While mites are unable to complete their life cycle in human hosts, it is recommended to see the doctor to address itching. Dogs should be examined by the veterinarian to curb further infection.