Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, is an intensely itchy skin disease caused by a Sarcoptes scabei, a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. Although dogs, cats, and humans all have a similar condition known as scabies, the mites are different for each host. Scabies in dogs is not the same as scabies in people.

Red, crusty lesions are most commonly seen on the ears, elbows and trunk of infected dogs. The lesions are extremely itchy, helping to distinguish sarcoptic mange from other skin conditions like ringworm and demodectic mange. The skin irritation is caused by the burrowing mites, which also release allergens and toxins into the skin. Constant scratching makes the skin susceptible to secondary infections with bacteria.

Although the areas of hair loss may lead the veterinarian to suspect sarcoptic mange, the final diagnosis is made by performing a skin scraping test. The skin is scraped in several areas to loosen cells and mites which are then examined microscopically. Because the mites are difficult to find, repeated scrapings are often indicated. Other tests may be performed to make sure the hair loss is not due to a cause other than mites.

Treatments may include dips or medications given by mouth or by injection. Treatments are usually given every two weeks until the symptoms have resolved and the pet tests negative for mites.

Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious among dogs. Infected dogs should be separated from other dogs until treatment is complete. Most other mammals, including humans, can be infected with a type of Sarcoptes, but the mite is different for each host. Mites from animals may get on people and cause itchiness for a few days, but will not actually cause an infection. However, until the pet is treated, mites may continue causing problems for their owners. People with skin irritations caused by canine scabies should consult their doctor for treatment to reduce the temporary itching sensation.

Cats do not get Sarcoptes, but have a similar disease caused by a different mite, Notoedres cati. It spreads easily among cats. Infected cats should receive prompt treatment and should be separated from other cats until treatment is complete. Like Sarcoptes, Notoedres does not cause scabies in people but may occasionally cause temporary, itchy skin lesions.

True scabies in people is always contracted from close contact with other people. Children, the elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals are at higher risk. Infection is usually the result of prolonged, direct contact between sexual partners or members of the same household. The organism can live for about 72 hours in the environment, so it is possible to spread scabies via sharing of unwashed clothing or bedding.

The video below show a case of severe sarcoptic mange in a stray dog.

Furminator: The Terminator Of Pet Hair

Terminate pet hair and dander floating around your home by grooming your pet with the Furminator! Long haired or short haired, cats or dogs, you will be amazed at the amount of hair the Furminator removes from your pets. This truly amazing tool was developed by a professional groomer and now it is available for us “at-home groomers.” Removing more than 90% of your pet’s loose hair, the Furminator will help the pet lover’s with allergies by reducing the number of allergens released.

I first saw the Furminator used by a local groomer and could not believe the amount of hair that he had removed from one small dog! This unique tool efficiently removes the loose undercoat without harming the top coat of hair. When using the Furminator, circulation and hair growth are stimulated giving your pet a genuinely healthy hair coat.  A remarkable tool, the Furminator is guaranteed to work better than any rake, comb, or brush. Use the Furminator on your cat to help eliminate the amount of hairballs she leaves for you to find. Use it on your dog and greatly reduce the amount of hair on your furniture.

The Furminator is available in small, medium and large sizes, and now there is even one available to use on your horse. How small or large your pet may be, there is a Furminator waiting for you.

If you are ready to terminate the pet hair and dander that is drifting through your home, try the Furminator; you won’t be disappointed.

Does My Cat Have Allergies?

How can I tell if my cat has allergies? Is the amount of hair she is shedding normal? What could she be allergic to? All of these may be questions you might ask if you suspect something is wrong with your cat. The best advice I could give you would be to first make an appointment with your veterinarian; he or she would be able to help you decide if your cat had allergies.

Keeping your cat and home free of fleas is very important, as some cats have allergies to flea saliva.  They may have a reaction when bitten. Interestingly enough, ear infections are sometimes indicative of an allergy.

If your cat has developed an allergy to food, you can ask your veterinarian’s recommendations as to how you should introduce new foods to find out which one your cat may be allergic to. Pollen and dusts can cause allergies in your cat just like they cause allergies in people. Your veterinarian may recommend antihistamines if the offending allergen cannot be found or taken away from your cat’s environment. In severe cases of allergies, your veterinarian can take skin or blood tests to determine the allergen and a combination of the allergens can be injected to help build up your cat’s immunity to them.

Hopefully when you find hair floating around and covering the cushions of your sofa, it is due to normal seasonal shedding and you will never have to ask, “does my cat have allergies?”

Dog Allergies Are Nothing To Sneeze At

Sneezing isn’t the usual sign of dog allergies. When my dog Yoda developed serious allergies, he began shedding more than normal and scratching himself continuously. This is a common sign that your dog may have an allergy.

Allergies to food and substances breathed in are the two most common allergies in dogs. My veterinarian did some blood evaluation tests on Yoda and discovered that he had food and inhalant allergies, nineteen different allergies to be exact! His allergies ranged from cotton to carrots, as well as grass, pollens, and the dust in my home. Sometimes allergies can be helped just be removing the source of the allergy or changing the type of dog food you are feeding to your dog.

Just like in people, sometimes antihistamines can help control allergy symptoms. Steroids helped Yoda but we had to be careful. When used too long, steroids can have adverse effects.  Since Yoda had so many allergies, it was impossible to remove the source of all of them, so my veterinarian recommended a gradual desensitization to the many allergens that were affecting him. A mixture of all the different things that Yoda was allergic to was developed into an injectable form and periodically injected into him. These injections of the allergens he was sensitive to in time reduced his reaction to them. Because of the secondary infections allergies sometimes produce, Yoda also had to be on antibiotics for a short time.

So if your dog is scratching and shedding a lot, you may need to see your veterinarian to determine if you are dealing with dog allergies.

Allergies in Cats

Allergies are a major cause of skin disease, discomfort and distress in cats. Pruritis, or intense itching, is the most characteristic sign of allergies. This itching is caused by the release of histamines from mast cells located throughout the body. Hair loss, redness and skin infections may result secondary to the allergy. Over time, the hair coat may become stained from excessive licking and the skin may become dark and thickened. Ear infections may also result from allergic conditions. The two most common types of allergic conditions exhibited by cats are those of inhalant allergies and food allergies.

Allergies in Cats

The treatment of allergies can be achieved by using three methods; removal of the allergen source, suppression of the itch with antihistamines, or corticosteroid administration and gradual desensitization of the immune system to the specific allergens affecting the pet. The removal of the offending substance is appropriate if the allergen source is a food item, flea saliva or something that is easy to remove from the environment. Elimination of certain diets and food trials are often implemented if food allergies are suspected. If flea bites are the problem, it will be necessary to eliminate fleas on the cat. Your veterinarian will suggest the appropriate flea treatment for your cat. Many allergens, however, are difficult or impossible to remove, such as pollen in the air or dust in the home.

The use of antihistamines or corticosteroids is the second method. Antihistamines act by reducing the release of histamine by the mast cells and are often very effective in controlling allergy symptoms. Corticosteroids act in many ways to suppress the allergic reaction before and after the allergy develops. Steroids are very effective, but must be used with caution. If used excessively, adverse effects can be seen. Because of the often-extensive self-trauma associated with allergic conditions, antibiotics are often administered to control the secondary infections that are frequently present.

The final treatment option is the process of desensitizing the patient over time. This densensitization process begins by identifying the allergens that the cat is sensitive to through specialized intra-dermal tests or blood evaluation. Once the allergens are identified, specialized mixtures of these substances are combined into an injectable form that is given at regular intervals. With time, the cats immune system response to these allergens diminishes and many cat owners note measurable improvement in their pets.

When ingestion or food allergies are suspected, a food trial lasting 6-12 weeks may be done. This involves changing the diet in an effort to eliminate possible allergens that may be present in the current diet. Complete compliance to the trial diet is needed for the trial to be of any value. Your veterinarian will likely be assessing your cats allergy symptoms and will form a therapeutic plan that suits your cats needs. A combination of the different therapies discussed is often needed. The management of highly allergic pets can be a very challenging undertaking, but the results obtained dramatically improve the quality of life for both you and your cat.