Dog Friendly Tips:
May is a good month to visit Craig y Nos Country Park, when the Rhododendrons are all out. Lots of mauve Rhododendrons and some red and white ones in the Country Park. So both dogs and humans can enjoy the scenery. The weather is often better in Aprila nd May than it is later in the year, though Wales is generally wetter than England.
Dog Friendly Article: Sarcoptic Mange - Just How Does It Affect Your Dog Or Puppy?
Canine scabies is caused by a parasite - the Sarcoptes scabiei, and is also known as sarcoptic mange. These parasites are microscopic and get into the skin of healthy dogs or puppies creating many different skin problems. The most common problem experienced is hair loss and severe itching. Sarcoptic mites can infect humans and other animals, however they prefer to live on dogs. There are a variety of good treatments for sarcoptic mange and the infestation can be easily controlled.
Who Gets Canine Scabies?
Canine scabies can infect any age, breed or sex of dog. The sarcoptic mite likes to live on dogs, but it will also live on other mammals such as cats, ferrets, humans and foxes. There are a number of mites in the Sarcoptes family, and each species of mite prefers its own host. Even though each type of mite prefers its own particular animal host, it will still infect other animals in order to survive.
What Is The Life Cycle Of Sarcoptes Scabiei?
The mite has a relatively short life cycle, and will spend all of it on its host.
The female mite burrows into the hosts' skin and begin to lay eggs, continuing to lay eggs as she goes deeper into the skin. These tunnels have been known to reach several centimeters into the dog's skin. After laying and depositing her eggs along her burrow the female mite will die. The eggs will hatch into six legged larvae after 3-8 days. The larvae will mature into 8-legged nymphs. Without having left the burrow, the nymph will then molt into an adult. The now adult mites will leave the burrow to mate, and the cycle continues. The life cycle of the mite is two to three weeks - which is relatively short.
These mites prefer to live on a dog or other host, but can live for several days off of the host in the environment. In the right conditions, moist and cool, the mites can live for up to three weeks without a host. At normal room temperature such as in a home the mites will live from 2 to 6 days. Because the mite is able to survive off its host dogs can become infected without having contact with another dog which has the infection.
What Are The Symptoms Of Canine Scabies?
The symptoms will vary between dogs, but generally they will include hair loss and severe itching.
The mites like areas of skin which have less hair, but as the infection gets worse, the entire body of the animal can be affected. Often small red pustules and yellow crusts develop on the skin as the infection progresses. Because of the severe itching and resultant scratching, the skin develops open wounds and sores. The itching and skin irritation appear to be worse in warm conditions. When the infection is not treated or is incorrectly treated (often mistaken for an allergy) the dog's skin may darken.
This is a common infection, and is commonly misdiagnosed as an allergy. If your dog has no history of allergies but develops continual severe itching and scratching you should consider that he may have canine scabies and discuss it with your vet.
It is thought that the itching caused by an infestation of the sarcoptic mite is actually an allergic reaction to the mite burrowing into the skin. The itching does not occur until several weeks after the dog has been infected by the mite. Because a dog who has been previously infected and treated will start to itch almost immediately upon re-infestation, it is believed that the itching is an allergic response. Standard allergy treatments will not decrease scabies symptoms or cure the infestation if your dog becomes reinfected.
How Is Canine Scabies Diagnosed?
Trying to make a diagnosis of canine scabies can be very frustrating. Generally, your veterinarian will take a skin scraping from your dog and try to identify the mite using a microscope. Unfortunately, on average, only twenty percent of the infected dogs will return a positive test for the mites when their skin scraping is performed. A negative skin scraping therefore does not rule out sarcoptic mange. Often a diagnosis of canine scabies is made on the dog's health history and their response to the medication for an infection of the sarcoptic mite - essentially the dog is diagnosed after being treated.
How Is Scabies Treated?
Sarcoptic mange can be treated in a variety of ways. In the past, the most effective treatment was to bath the dog with a benzoyl peroxide shampoo and then apply an organophosphate dip. Alternatively, other dips which have proved to work are amitraz and lime sulfur dips. The infected dogs must be dipped fortnightly for a period of 4-6 weeks. Highly effective, these dips are not pleasant for either the dog or the owner. To be effective, the dip must come into contact with the mites and many mites live on the face and other sensitive areas - great care must be taken when applying the dips. The dips can also be toxic to humans, and cannot be used on very young or very old dogs. There is increasing evidence which suggests that the sarcoptic mite has developed resistance to some dips.
Fortunately, today we no longer have to rely on dips to treat sarcoptic mange. There is a topical solution that is applied once a month, selamectin, which also works to prevent heartworm and control fleas in addition to providing protection against Sarcoptic mange. There are a number of products which provide this protection, some incorporate additional controls including ticks - you should seek the product which works best for your pet. There are many varieties which can be purchased from pet stores and veterinarians.
Depending on the needs of your dog, the monthly treatment you choose could include heart worm treatment or not.
All products should be used in conjunction with veterinary supervision and applied in a careful and timely manner. In addition to treating the dog, the bedding and environment should also be treated as canine scabies is highly transferable.
Because canine scabies is highly contagious, if one dog is discovered to be infected all other dogs in the pack should also be treated. The mites are able to live in good conditions off the dog for up to three weeks, and so the treatment must continue in excess of the known life cycle of the mite - at least four weeks.
Sarcoptic mange leads to skin damage, and infected dogs may have infections and irritations which will also need treating. It is important to treat these skin lesions to prevent further skin infections developing.
How Is Canine Scabies Prevented?
It is difficult to prevent canine scabies, as a dog does not have to come into direct contact with an infected canine. When you visit areas commonly frequented by other dogs your dog is more likely to be exposed to sarcoptic mites. Areas such as parks and off lead dog areas will almost certainly have had infected dogs visit them. The mite will also frequently be found in foxes, so it is advisable to keep your dog away from areas frequented by these animals.
Can I Get Sarcoptes From My Pet?
Although humans can contract the sarcoptic mite from their pet, it is generally only a temporary itch and is self limiting. Humans have their own version of the sarcoptes mite which is transmitted from human to human. The human version of the mite will cause an itchy rash generally found on the elbows, wrists and between the fingers. When infants contract the mite, they can get get the rash on their face, neck or body.
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