Sarcoptes scabei
Sarcoptes scabei – a parasitic arthropod that burrows into skin and causes scabies. Image by Kalumet. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Have you ever had an atopic dog that’s really well managed but suddenly flares, becomes very pruritic and seems to stop responding to therapy? I had one such case just a couple of months ago.

Skin scrapes did not reveal the presence of any ectoparasites and cytology was pretty unexciting (a bit of bacterial colonisation but otherwise unremarkable).

However, noticing the pruritus to be primarily around the head, ears and ventral abdomen tipped me off to think about Sarcoptes scabei – particularly as we have a very prolific and confident urban fox population in our practice area.

A serum sample was duly sent off and – lo and behold – proved positive for Sarcoptes antibodies.

The client then confessed to missing “a dose” of Advocate but, upon reapplication, management was readily restored.

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