Is Dog Scabies Contagious to Humans?

Dog scabies, also called sarcoptic mange, is a contagious skin condition that can is zoonotic, which means it can be passed between dogs and people. The disease is caused by sarcoptes mites, which are related to spiders, that burrow into an affected animal or person's skin.

Sarcoptes mites transmit scabies by direct dog-to-dog contact, and the mites can survive for up to 48 hours off an infected dog. Symptoms begin showing up about a week after exposure to the mite.

Canine Symptoms of Scabies

Dogs with scabies will scratch or chew at their bodies constantly because the burrowing mites make them itchy. They will also lose their hair and have rashy, irritated skin. Their skin may have many scabs on it from all the scratching. If left untreated, scabies results in dry, thick, wrinkled skin and additional hair loss.

Scabies seems to affect certain areas of a dog's body more than others. The mites seem to prefer less-furry parts of your dog's body,  and the areas most commonly affected by scabies are the base of the tail, the belly, the chest, the ears and the elbows. The dog's back is rarely affected by scabies. The disease can affect any age, breed or gender of dog, and it can occur at any time during the year.

Human Symptoms of Scabies

Symptoms of scabies in people include intense itching, especially on the hands, finger webs, armpits, wrists and inner thighs, eczema, distinctive burrowing tracks under the affected person's skin, and pustules.

Diagnosing and Treating Scabies in Dogs

If your veterinarian suspects your dog has scabies, he or she may take skin scrapings or a skin biopsy from your pet, or may prescribe treatment to clear up the symptoms, such as ivermectin, milbemycin oxime, moxidectin or selamectin. Your dog may also need to receive special dips to help kill the mites, or he may require baths with special shampoos or other additional grooming as you begin to fight the mites.

The course of treatment should be followed for the entire three-week life cycle of the sarcoptes mite, to ensure that your dog is mite-free. Treat all pets in your home for scabies to ensure re-infestation doesn't occur at the end of the treatment.

After you've gotten rid of scabies on your dog, take precautions to prevent future infestations by disinfecting his collar, leash, bedding and any other accessories that may have come in contact with him while he had scabies. Limit your dog's exposure to other dogs to further ensure he doesn't become reinfected.

Diagnosing and Treating Scabies in People

Diagnosis of scabies in people is based on skin scrapings and observation of the affected areas by your doctor. Treatment of scabies in people involves the use of a cream containing permethrin or a lotion containing lindane for a period of time as prescribed by a doctor. The itchy feeling related to scabies may take up to three weeks to fully leave an affected person's body.