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Dog Mange

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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