Atlas of livestock parasites
digitized collection of microscopical preparations

Atlas of Parasites Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Sarcoptes scabiei.var. canis (Canidae)



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Sarcoptic Mange (Canine Scabies)

Sarcoptes scabiei var canis infestation is a highly contagious disease of dogs found worldwide. The mites are fairly host-specific, but animals (including humans) that come in contact with infested dogs can also be affected. Adult mites are 0.3–0.5 mm long, roughly circular in shape, without a distinctive head, and have 4 pairs of short legs. Females are almost twice as large as males. The entire life cycle (17–21 days) is spent on the dog. Females burrow tunnels in the stratum corneum to lay eggs. Sarcoptic mange is readily transmitted between dogs by direct contact; infestation by indirect contact is less frequent but may occur. The incubation period is variable (10 days to 8 wk) and depends on level of exposure, body site, number of mites transmitted, and individuals. Asymptomatic carriers may exist. Intense pruritus is characteristic and is probably due to hypersensitivity to mite products. Primary lesions consist of a papular eruption that, due to self-trauma, develops thick crusts. Secondary bacterial and yeast infections may occur. Typically, lesions start on the ventral abdomen, chest, ears, elbows, and hocks and, if untreated, become generalized. Dogs with chronic, generalized disease develop seborrhea, severe thickening of the skin with fold formation and crust buildup, peripheral lymphadenopathy, and emaciation; dogs so affected may even die. “Scabies incognito” has been described in well-groomed dogs; these dogs, infested with sarcoptic mites, are pruritic, but demonstrating the mites on skin scrapings is difficult because the crusts and scales have been removed by regular bathing. Atypical, including localized, clinical forms that are probably linked to the extensive use of insecticides or acaricides are increasingly observed.


Diagnosis is based on the history of severe pruritus of sudden onset, possible exposure, and involvement of other animals, including humans. Making a definitive diagno


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