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An itchy dog may have mange

Mange mites can spread from foxes to dogs, causing mange (or scabies) in dogs.

What is fox mange?

Fox mange, or scabies, is caused by a parasitic mite, sarcoptes scabiei. These are (0.2mm in diameter) round scabies that live in the skin.

Symptoms of fox mange

Itching of varying degrees, which may increase at night, is the most common symptom of mange. Hair loss, dandruff formation, crusts and scabs are secondary changes that can occur if the itching is not detected in time. 

In dogs, the itching is usually detected early, which means that these symptoms rarely occur. There are also individuals who hardly get any symptoms at all and can then be so-called symptom-free carriers of fox mange.

How does fox scabies infect dogs?

Scabies is spread by direct contact with an infected animal, but can also be transmitted if a dog rolls around where a scabby fox or infected dog has been. The scabies can survive outside the host animal for a short time. It takes about 3-4 weeks before clear symptoms are seen. Fox mange can infect dogs, wolves, martens, pigs and cats.

If your dog itches a lot and you suspect that your dog has been infected with mange, you should contact a vet. In addition to mange and other vermin, itching can be a sign of allergy in dogs.

Diagnosis via scraping or blood test

A scraping test is where the vet scratches the skin and looks at the material under a microscope - this is the fastest way to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, it is not entirely easy to find scabies on a scratch test.

The other option is to send a blood sample to a specialised laboratory that looks for antibodies against fox-mange. For the blood test to be reliable, your dog must have had symptoms for two to three weeks. Antibodies persist for several months after infection and show whether your dog is or has been infected.

Treatment of dogs with mange

Fox mange is treated with antiparasitic spot-on preparations or tablets, all of which require a prescription. If there are several dogs in the home, all dogs should be treated at the same time to prevent re-infection.

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