When your pup becomes infested with mites, the pests cause an itchy skin condition known as mange. One such treatment is a medicated dip, which you apply directly to his skin.
Types of Mites
The three most common types of mites that infest dogs and cause mange include the Sarcoptes scabiei, Demodex canis and Cheyletiella yasguri, according to PetWave. While Sarcoptes and Cheyletiella mites are contagious and transmitted from contact with other dogs, bedding and grooming equipment, Demodex are not. Demodex mites normally live within your pup's hair follicles and cause no issues unless your pup's immune system becomes compromised, allowing the mites to flourish. In general, mites can cause a variety of symptoms, including itchy skin, hair loss and crusty scabs. Symptoms appear primarily on the face, ears, elbows and legs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
To properly diagnose mites, your vet may take a skin scraping from your pup and examine it under a microscope after performing a thorough physical exam. She will prescribe a medication, like a dip, to treat the mites and any secondary skin infections they have caused. There are several types of insecticidal dips available for dogs to rid Fido of the mites plaguing him. Unfortunately, organophosphate-based dips are ineffective against Sarcoptes scabiei mites, according to WebMD. Therefore, the two main types of topical dips available to rid your pup of scabies and other types of mites are lime-sulfur dips and amitraz dips. Your vet will determine what dip will work best for your pup.
Dips can stain your dog's skin and coat and you need to wear waterproof gloves when applying them to prevent the dip chemicals from getting on your own skin. Prior to applying a dip, wash your dog with a shampoo containing benzoyl peroxide, allowing it to sit on his skin for 10 minutes, recommends the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. This will exfoliate his skin and open his hair follicles so that the dip can penetrate them. Mix the dip with water according to the manufacturer's directions and apply it to your pup's coat and skin with a sponge. Allow it to dry naturally and don't rinse it off. Dipping is repeated every two weeks or as directed by your vet.
While dips can rid your pup of mites, they are not the only treatments available. Ivermectin injections or oral milbemycin oxime tablets may both rid your pup of mites without having to use messy dips. However, ivermectin cannot be used with certain breeds like collies, sheepdogs and other herding breeds, warns the VCA Animal Hospitals websites. For these breeds, dips may be a better alternative. Dips are not without side effects, though, and may heavily sedate your dog, especially if he's a small breed or young pup, warns the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. Speak with your vet before using any dips on puppies younger than 4 months or toy breeds because of these side-effects.