Treating And Eliminating Sarcoptic Mange

James Glover
by James Glover
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QuestionI just found a little puppy in the woods behind where I work and decided to take it home and adopt it. Three days later I discovered he has sarcoptic mange, which is very contagious to my other dog and humans. Will we keep spreading it back and forth to each other? I am washing my bedding and the dogs' bedding every day. I can only dip them once a week for 3 weeks. How can I get rid of this? (Jane Hester - Louisiana)

Answer

Sarcoptic mange is caused by a microscopic mite. The life cycle of the mite is about 3 weeks from adult to egg and back to adult. The mite burrows under the skin to lay its eggs, the eggs hatch within a few days but often stay within the skin until they reach maturity in 7-14 days. As you are going to treat yourselves and the dogs twice during this time you should kill all of the juvenile mites before they can lay any eggs and reinfect you or your dogs. During this time however the hatching juveniles and the dip itself will cause continued itching. A prescription of steroids may help ease the itching.

Although the mites can live on humans for a few days they can't actually lay eggs and reproduce. Lime sulfur dips along with organophosphate dips are commonly use and do work (although particular care has to be taken to insure that the ears are properly treated as the dip is only effective if it comes into contact with the mite).

Veterinarians also use internal medicines like ivermectin and selamectin to kill the mites although these are not suitable for all breeds and should never be given other than under veterinary supervision. Washing the bedding is definitely a good idea but you will also need to treat it alongside any carpets and cloth furnishings with an anti mite powder as the mites can live away from the host for one to two weeks and re-infect everyone. I would recommend going back to the vet after your initial treatment is complete to ensure that the mite has been eradicated.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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