Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 21:45 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 16:16 [IST]

Canine scabies: a zoonotic skin disease


Canine scabies also known as Sarcoptic mange, in dogs caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei, is a highly contagious skin parasite. The mites burrow into the skin and cause severe itching due an allergic reaction to the mite, which can result in the formation of scabs, crusting and drastic fur loss. It is a nonseasonal parasite that can be found in all types of domestic animals including dog and cat as well.

How will sarcoptic mange/scabies affect my dog?

Scabies causes severe itching, so dogs that experience show intense scratching, licking and hair/fur loss are suspects. Symptoms are most often seen on the ear flaps, elbows, hocks, abdomen, and chest of infested dogs. Red swollen crusty skin and abnormal shedding are also some common signs.

Scabies is difficult to diagnose so clinical signs and elimination of other risk factors are important as skin scrapings are often unreliable. It is important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect an infestation. A veterinarian can recommend effective therapies for this disease.

Can owners get scabies from their pets?

Yes, scabies is zoonotic (can be passed from animals to humans),so pet owners that have close contact with their dogs may develop an itchy rash. After the dog has been treated, however, symptoms usually disappear. It is also most common among people who live in overcrowded areas, and those who do not practice good hygiene.

Zoonotic importance

Canine scabies is of great public health importance as 50% of human cases may result from handling of infected dogs. Human patients usually recover spontaneously after the infected dogs are cured. Scabies can be passed between people by close skin contact or by sharing bedding and clothing.

The most common locations for burrows in humans include the sides of the fingers, between the fingers, the top of the wrists, around the elbows and armpits, around the nipples of the breasts in women, in the genitalia of men around the waist (beltline)etc.

The itching from scabies becomes worse after a hot shower and at night. Scratching, however, seems to serve some purpose in scabies, as the mites are apparently often inadvertently removed. Most infestations with scabies are caused by no more than 15 mites altogether.

How do I prevent my dog from getting scabies?

Maintaining the good health of your dog is important to preventing scabies. Dogs that roam with other dogs, reside at a shelter or boarding facility, or have frequent contact with other dogs are susceptible as scabies is easily transferred between dogs.

Practising good hygiene of your dog, avoiding frequent contact with other dogs who might have scabies and talking with your vet about any scabies outbreaks in your area and avoiding them is the best way of keeping your dog safe.


Treatment may include topical medications, injections to kill the mites and soothing shampoos to treat itching as prescribed by your vet.

Generally, home remedies for scabies in dogs aren't recommended since it would take a long time for elimination of the mite.


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi