What are the treatments for scabies in dogs?

Updated November 21, 2016

Scabies is a type of mite that burrows into your dogs skin, causing itching and hair loss. Scabies is also known as sarcoptic mange. Scabies is highly contagious and can be passed from dogs to people. When treating your dog for scabies it is important to treat all the animals in your home at the same time. Dogs and other animals such as cats can carry scabies for weeks before symptoms become noticeable.


If you believe your dog has been infested with scabies, the first thing you need to do is get a diagnosis from a veterinarian. Your veterinarian will do a skin scraping to rule out other conditions, such as allergies, and identify the type of mite your dog is carrying. It is important to be sure you are dealing with scabies, because the treatments are different for each type of mange mite that can affect your dog.


Using a dip to treat scabies can be a very unpleasant process for you and your dog. Dips are effective, but they must come into direct contact with the mite. This means if your dog has scabies around the eyes or mouth, you must use extreme caution while applying the dip. Dips can also be harmful to humans and should not be used if your dog is under 12 weeks old, in poor overall health or is very old. Most dips contain an insecticide such as permethrin or organophoshoate. Dips containing a lime sulphur solution are also effective. When using a dip to treat scabies, need to dip your dog every other week for a minimum of 6 weeks.

Spot on Treatments

Topical treatments are highly effective in killing scabies and only require a simple once-a-month treatment. Spot on treatments also have good residual effects and will help prevent infestations in the future. You apply these treatments to a small area, usually on your dog's back, and it is then absorbed into the bloodstream.

Selamectin is a topical solution that is applied once a month. It is applied as a spot on treatment and is absorbed into the skin. As an added benefit, selamectin also provides protection against fleas, ear mites and heart worms.

Fipronil is another spot on treatment and is found in products like Frontline and Frontline Plus. In addition to killing fleas and ticks, fipronil is highly effective in treating scabies.

Off-Label Treatments

There are two treatments for heartworm that have also been effective in treating mange. Ivermectin is a treatment that is commonly used off label. Off label means you are using a product to treat a condition for which it is not approved. Ivermectin is effective in treating scabies, but it is to be used only under close veterinary supervision. Some dogs, especially herding breeds like collies and sheep dogs, are sensitive to ivermectin. A severe reaction to ivermectin can result in death. If your dog is a herding breed or has shown sensitivity to ivermectin ,your veterinarian may use milbemycin as a safer alternitive.


Another method of killing scabies is using a medicated shampoo. Medicated shampoos contain insecticides and must be repeated weekly for a minimum of one month. These shampoos are available over the counter or by prescription. The prescription varieties cost more but contain higher concentrations of insecticide.


To keep your dog from getting reinfested with scabies, it is important to treat your dog's bedding areas with an insecticide spray as well. If your dog lives in the house, you must also treat all carpeted areas. If your dog comes into contact with other dogs, it is impossible to completely prevent all infestations. Using a product with good residual or long-lasting effects can help minimise your dog's risk of getting scabies.

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