Scabies is a contagious, very itchy skin disease that occurs any time of the year. It is caused by the mange mite Sarcoptes scabei. These mites prefer less hairy parts of the body such as ears, elbows, belly, and hocks (ankles.) Affected areas may have hair loss, redness, bumps, scabs or a secondary bacterial infection.

Scabies can be a difficult disease to confirm. The mites burrow deep under the skin and can be difficult to obtain and identify from a routine skin scraping. Multiple scrapings are frequently needed. Many times, treatment for scabies is started based on the pet’s symptoms and signs alone.

Treatment for scabies usually includes special shampoos, topical medication and oral medications. Dogs that are extremely itchy may benefit from a very short course of anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics if they have a bacterial infection. The prognosis for a pet with scabies is usually good.

The sarcoptes mite can be transmitted to people. Those handling affected pets should wash each time they interact with the animal. The infection in people is transient, but can be very irritating. Please consult your human healthcare provider if you have questions concerning human infections.