How to Treat Canine Scabies

By Venice Kichura

Scabies in a canine is caused by the infestation of an extremely infectious skin parasite called the sacrcoptes scabie mite. It is so contagious that about half of all exposed dogs contract it. Mites which cause the disease can attack a healthy dog resulting in many skin problems. Besides hurting an infected dog, canine scabies can give untold frustration to owners, concerned about their best friend. Sometimes vets misdiagnose the problem for food or allergic dermatitis, so it is important for owners to suggest the problem may be scabies.

Recognize the symptoms. Severe itching is the most common symptom of a possible scabies infestation, with affected areas itching so intensely that a dog bites and scratches at it continually. Other signs may include crusting, itchiness, hair loss, as well as damaged and inflamed skin. Secondary skin infections can result if these symptoms are not addressed.

Take your dog to the vet for treatment. First, a vet usually has to do several surface scrapings on the dog's elbows, ears and hocks to make sure that it is scabies. Mites or eggs can also be found in fecal flotation. Also, ask your vet to perform the Pedal-Pinna Reflex Test, which tests for mites along the ear flap (pinna). Affected dogs, when scratched, will typically show an involuntary scratching motion done with a back leg as the vet scratches the pinna.

Treat your dog to a scabicidal dip in which he will be rinsed with substances as lime sulfur, amatraz or organophosphate. However, before dipping your dog, clip affected hair, removing dirt and crusts. Then soak with a good antiseborrheic shampoo and acaricidal dip. Continue treating with dips, spacing them out about every five days until the problem is gone.

If there is no improvement, treat orally with a vet-approved drug. Drugs for treating scabies include selmectin which is given twice a day for a period of one month. Other drugs, such as ivermectin and moxidectin, have also been shown effective although they aren't registered for treating canine scabies.

Treat any exposed dogs or other pets with a vet-recommended shampoo. Also fumigate your dog's collar, clean carpeting, bedding and any other contaminated items as these areas can host future mites that can again attack your dog.

Keep your dog away from other animals. The period for isolating your dog from other animals varies depending on the severity of the disease and number of parasites. However, it is usually between one and three weeks.