Scabies in dogs is also known as sarcoptic mange and it is caused by the parasite Sarcoptes scabiei. These microscopic mites can invade host’s healthy skin and create a variety of problems such as severe itching and even hair loss. If left untreated, it can lead to secondary diseases and expose the host body to be easily infected by other severe diseases.
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Fortunately, using certain good treatments, you can help your canine get rid of mange. But before knowing about the treatment, let’s find out how canine scabies occur.
What is the life cycle of Sarcoptes scabiei?
The female mites burrow into the skin to lay eggs and these tunnels reach the length of several centimeters as these mites continue to lay and hatch eggs. Within 8 days, the eggs hatch into six-legged larvae that further mature into nymphs which have 8 legs. The nymph turns into the adult's mate and continues its living process. This entire life cycle requires two to three weeks.
These mites need host body to survive, but can also live for several days without host body as well. Usually, they can live up to 22 days in cold, moist environment. At normal room temperature, they can survive for two to six days. As these mites are able to live even without host body, dogs can easily get infected even if they don’t come in contact with an infected animal.
Symptoms of canine scabies
Some of the common symptoms of canine scabies include severe itching on areas like ears, elbows, ventral abdomen, hocks, chest, armpits, etc. Even hair loss can be seen in dogs due to the presence of these itch mites. As the infection increases, it can spread over to the entire body causing small red pustules along with the formation of yellow crusts on the skin.
Due to excessive itching and scratching, the skin may become traumatized. Even a variety of sores and infections may develop due to intense scratching. Because of the severe itching and resultant scratching, the skin soon becomes traumatized and a variety of sores and infections can develop as a result. If the infection is not treated, the skin may darken due to consistent irritation and even lymph nodes may enlarge if the problem continues.
Sarcoptic mange a common infection, but in many cases, it is misdiagnosed as severe atopy. Any dog with no prior history of severe itching or allergies can be suspected to have canine scabies. The intense itching is the result of sarcoptic mite that causes a severe allergic reaction within the skin.
When a pet is infested with Sarcoptes, it’s not likely to develop itching for several weeks. However, a severe itching occurs immediately if any dog had a history of scabies.
How is canine scabies diagnosed?
The common method to diagnose canine scabies is to scrape off skin and identify the mite under microscope. Unfortunately, only twenty percent of the infected dogs show Sarcoptes mites through this method. If a dog has a positive skin scraping, the diagnosis is confirmed. A negative scraping, however, does not necessarily mean no sarcoptic mange. So, most diagnoses are made based on history and response to the scabies treatment.
How is scabies treated?
Your veterinarian may prescribe treatment medicaments like ivermectin, milbemycin oxime, moxidectin or selamectin to get rid of the annoying symptoms. Apart from that, your dog may also need to get special dips to kill mites or may require bathing with special shampoos to fight mites. The course of treatment is followed for the entire three-week to ensure that your dog is complete mite-free. Even after the treatment, you need to prevent your pet from further re-infection.