Mange mites are one category of parasitic skin disease. The 2 forms of mange affecting dogs and cats that veterinarians deal with are sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange. Sarcoptic mange is also called scabies. Sarcoptic mange is caused by a microscopic tick-like mite that infects the skin. Scabies is very contagious from pet to pet and from pets to humans. Sarcoptic mange can affect any dog or cat; any age, sex or breed can be infected. Dogs are affected much more commonly than cats. The signs include a severely itchy pet with raised or raw red sores and crusty skin in more advanced cases. The areas of the body most commonly affect are the ear, elbows, chest and abdomen, but any area of skin can be affected. Unfortunately, scabies is hard to diagnose but it is easily treated. Because of the difficulty of an exact diagnosis, veterinarians often recommend treatment, and if the pet responds and gets better, the assumption is made that the pet was infected with the sarcoptic mange mite
There are several proven methods to treat a dog with sarcoptic mange. One is to treat with in hospital dipping with a chemical called amitraz. Only two dips are usually required. Another option is to use the topical monthly heartworm/flea product Revolution for killing scabies mange mites. The product may be used more frequently than monthly during the treatment of sarcoptic mange. Cats CANNOT be dipped and Revolution is not labeled to kill sarcoptic mange, but may be used off-label. Ivermectin is also extremely successful in treating sarcoptic mange and the best option for felines. However, injectable cattle ivermectin is not approved for this use in dogs and cats so you need to discuss the pros and cons of all treatment options with your veterinarian.
No matter which method of treatment you and your veterinarian choose, the pet’s environment should be cleaned and treated to kill the mange mites that can live off of the dog. Any other animal pet that has contact with the affected pet should also be treated in conjunction with a consultation with your veterinarian. If any humans in contact with the pet have red itchy lesions see your human medical doctor right away. Medications to stop the pet’s itching and eliminate any secondary bacterial infection may be necessary in certain cases.
If you have an uncomfortable itchy pet(s) and suspect sarcoptic mange mite infection, consult your veterinarian. If humans have been affected by a pet with scabies, the lesions should clear up by three weeks after the environment and the pet have been treated appropriately. The environment needs to be treated weekly for 4 weeks because the life cycle of the mite is 28 days and the chemicals may not kill the eggs that have been laid by the adult mites. Following the proper recommendations for treating the pets and the environment will help to ensure a favorable prognosis for the elimination of a sarcoptic mange infection.