Symptoms of Sarcoptic mange (dog scabies) are red bumps or papules, itch, and a scaling or hardening of the skin. If your dog scratches the bumps, it results in hair loss occurs and possibly skin infection.
Treatment options include a lime-sulfur dip that can be purchased over the counter, a spot-on such as Frontline (Fipronil), or a prescription topical that contains Selamectin (Revolution). Other treatments such as Ivermectin based medications have side effects in some dogs such as herding breeds, so they should be avoided.
Scabies mites can spread from dog to dog, and dog to human, however, humans are not a good host for the parasite and quickly die.
Scabies are characterized by papules (red bumps on the skin) and crusty areas that can be seen on the ears, ankles, face and elbows. If a dog is well groomed, it is possible that a dog has scabies, but does not have the red bumps or papules in a condition called scabies incognito. The condition can cause thick and wrinkled skin.
Source: Royal Veterinary College, University of London Veterinary School
Your veterinarian will make a diagnosis based on a review of your dog's symptoms and history. Skin scrapings may be helpful in making a diagnosis, however it is accurate 100% of the time. Other tests are also available, but if your veterinarian suspects scabies, she may recommend proceeding with at least treatment with a lime-sulfur dip.
A time honored test for scabies is to rub the ear flap in your fingers. If your dog scratches on the same side then scabies are probably present. For a definitive diagnosis your veterinarian will scrape the skin and analyze the result.
Sometimes the symptoms of scabies remain even when the mites are gone since mites leave behind a toxin that causes dog's to itch.
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Superficial Mite Infestations
Ralf S. Mueller DipACVD, DipECVD, FACVSc
Medizinische Kleintierklinik Veterinaerstr. 13 80539