Canine Scabies

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Noah is a nine week old male Beagle mix who presented, along with his four littermates, with extreme itchiness and hair loss. The five brothers had been rescued earlier on the day of presentation by Basset and Beagle Rescue of the Heartland.

Noah Beagle1

Canine scabies, also called sarcoptic mange,  is one of several causes of alopecia and pruritus of dogs.

alopecia – hair loss

pruritus – itchiness

scabies – disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei

Scabies is contagious to other dogs and cats and is also zoonotic.

zoonotic – transmissible from animals to people

It can be difficult to diagnose, but is usually straightforward to treat.

Dogs with scabies often have patches of hair loss and skin irritation.  They tend to be very, very itchy.  They will often thump their back leg when their ear is scratched, which is a hallmark of the disease.

After a thorough examination, the next diagnostic step is often a skin scraping.  Skin cells are collected from an affected area using a tiny spatula or dull blade.  The cells and debris are examined under a microscope.  Often, no Sarcoptes scabiei mites are seen, and if so, treatment may be indicated based on the suspicion of scabies.  If Sarcoptes scabiei mites are found, their presence is diagnostic.

Treatment is one or more of several topical and injectable options, plus treatment of the itchiness and any other ancillary care, including treatment of secondary skin infections.  Treated pets have an excellent prognosis.  Care must be taken to isolate affected pets, especially from other dogs, but also from cats.  People involved in the care of affected pets or living in the same household must be careful to avoid skin contact, and wash their hands well if contact occurs.  Infections in dogs usually do not resolve without medical intervention.  Suspected infections in people should be dealt with by a human medical team.

Noah and his brothers are three weeks into treatment and doing very well.  They will be even more super cute than they already are when they have regrown their fuzzy black, brown and white baby coats, and will be available for adoption soon!