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Mites: All About Sarcoptic Mange (Canine Scabies)

While you are grooming your dog, you notice that his coat seems to be shedding abnormally.  You also notice that he is scratching and licking himself frantically.  You then checked his coat to see if you can find any signs of fleas, ticks, or even lice, but what you found instead are big pimples and scaly skin. Everyday that goes by the symptoms seem to be getting worse.  What is going on with your dog?

It appears that your dog is suffering from sarcoptic mange, or more commonly known as canine scabies.   Mange occurs when mites burrow under the skin.  Sarcoptic mange is a parasitic condition that is caused by a specific type of mite called sarcoptes scabei; a type of mite that looks very similar to tiny spiders. 

This type of rapidly burrowing mite is highly contagious and can easily spread from dog to dog, from dog to cat, and from dog to human.  Mite eggs generally take between three to ten days to hatch, once they are laid just a few millimeters under the skin.

The following are symptoms of sarcoptic mange or canine scabies:  Intense and excessive scratching, licking, and/or biting; loss of hair, and reddened and encrusted skin.  Areas that are most affected by this mite problem are the edges of the ears, the face, the lower chest, the elbows, and the legs.  In addition, you may also notice small, red raised bumps on the skin of humans who come in contact with the dog infected with this mite problem.

If you think your dog is suffering from sarcoptic mange, you need to pay a visit to your vet.  Your vet will do a series of skin tests to determine if your dog is infested with this type of mite disease.  He will then give you instructions on how to use certain topical medications that will kill the sarcoptic mites.  Your vet may also give you an anti-inflammatory drug to relieve the symptoms of swelling and itching in the affected areas.  It may be necessary for your vet to prescribe an antibiotic if the scratching turns into an infection. 

To lessen the spread of mite infestation, you need to change all bedding your dog has slept on.  You may need to thoroughly clean your entire house and pay special attention to the areas where your dog usually spends his time at.

Sarcoptic mange is very contagious.  If you think you might have been affected by your dog’s mite problem, ask your doctor for advice on treatment and medication.

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Mites: All About Sarcoptic Mange (Canine Scabies)


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