Can Dogs Get Scabies from Cats?

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Scabies, also known as mange, isn't often found in cats, but it is certainly possible. The mites that cause mange are found on cats and people as well as on dogs. If you have rescued a dog or a cat or you have experienced scabies on your skin, it can be a miserable experience. It is also highly contagious. We have learned, however, that the mites who feast on the skin of humans and the mites who live on our pets vary from species to species. So, if the mites which may cause mange on dogs make it onto your skin or your cat's skin, they typically don't cause the same problems for us as they do for our dogs. However, if you have a cat that is suffering from mites that cause mange or scabies, is there a chance that your dog could contract it as well?

Can Dogs Get Scabies from Cats?

YES!

Though there are mites that are species-specific, there are types mange or scabies caused by mites which can cross from your cat to your dog, known as sarcoptic mange. These mites burrow into the upper layers of the skin where they lay their eggs. Direct contact with an animal or person with mange mites can cause the parasites to be passed from one to another including from your cat to your dog.

Does My Dog Have Scabies from Cats?

It's unlikely your typical household cat has scabies. However, cats who were allowed to roam outdoors or cats who hang out with other street cats or alley cats or in areas that are not sanitary could indeed be exposed to mites which cause scabies or mange. If you notice your cat has the symptoms of sarcoptic mange, there is always a chance your dog can develop it as well. You may see skin infections on your cat, typically on their face and ears before spreading to the rest of their body. If your dog has similar dry, itchy patches on their skin, he might have mange as well. If your dog has sarcoptic mange, their skin will be extremely itchy, red, and irritated. They may form crusty areas on the affected skin and lose fur in those areas as well. If you think your dog has scabies or sarcoptic mange, you can see your vet for treatment. This may include a sulfur dip or shampoo to rid your dog of the mites as well as heal their skin. Read more about scabies in dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Scabies?

If you have more than one pet in your household and you suspect mange, or scabies, in any of your pets, you may want to treat all your pets at the same time. Sulfur dips and shampoos will help rid your dog of the mites which cause mange and scabies. Your veterinarian can prescribe skin creams for the areas of skin that have become scabbed over and crusty. You will want to wash all of your dog's bedding and toys to ensure those surfaces aren't housing mites. If your dog's scabies has become so severe that there is a bacterial infection on their skin, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or, at the very least, an antibiotic cream for the sores and rashes caused by scabies.

If the cat you suspect infected your dog is your cat, you will, of course, want to treat your cat as well. You can learn more and ask questions of our in-house veterinarians here.

How is Scabies Similar in Dogs, Cats and Humans?

Scabies in all animals manifests itself in similar ways. You will notice the dry, itchy spots. All animals could experience a rash just as people do. Your dog and your cat could have areas where their fur is missing where scabies is the worst. All animals could develop skin infections from the chewing and scratching of their skin. Though mites can be species-specific, the sarcoptic mite can cross from person to cats and from cats to dogs or from animal to animal. So, if you suspect anyone within your family has been exposed to sarcoptic mange or scabies, you may want to talk to your doctors and your veterinarians for treatment or, at the very least, preventive shampoos and dips to keep your pets healthy.

How is Scabies Different in Dogs, Cats and Humans?

Because mites like particular temperatures, most mites are species specific. This means mites which find your dog's skin a comfortable home will not find your cat's skin a comfortable home. These mites will also not like to live on your skin. Body temperatures vary from species to species, so mites tend to stick with one species and not to cross from one to another. Although, it is possible mites may migrate somehow from your dog's skin to your own or vice versa. However, they will not thrive and reproduce on another species’ skin as they do on the skin of the species which they are most comfortable. The exception, of course, are the sarcoptic mites which cause scabies and mange in cats, dogs, humans, as well as other mammals.

With these mites and sarcoptic mange, the signs and symptoms and manifestation are going to be very similar from species to species.

Case Study

A family moves to a new home. Down the street is a construction site filled with dumpsters where workers often placed their leftover lunches along with building materials. This construction site is known for having stray cats as well as a few stray dogs. These cats, being very familiar with their environment and very comfortable with people as well as dogs living around them, come to the family's new house and make friends with the people and the family dog. Some of these cats have mange so bad the scabs and black spots around their eyes and ears can be seen as they walk up the driveway. The family dog, however, does not care that the cats have mange. He just wants to play. It takes a couple of weeks before this family dog starts to develop itchy spots and sores on his skin, leaving the owners to suspect he also has mange. Because scabies and mange, if caught early enough, can be treated by your veterinarian, this family decided to do sulfur dips for their dog and shampoos to help heal their skin and rid the skin of mange. After a couple of weeks, their dog was fine and the scabies did not turn into an infection. However, this community had a problem with stray dogs and stray cats that were passing scabies from one to another. This community, with the help of volunteer veterinarians, came in and not only dipped all the animals and gave them all antibiotics, but also spayed and neutered all the stray animals they could capture to keep the population from growing. It is a case like this where a family dog is affected by the stray, homeless animals living around them which brings a community together to care for the animals who are surviving but also possibly passing disease and illness to the domesticated pets in their community.