The potential value of the pinnal-pedal scratch reflex as an aid to diagnosing canine scabies was assessed in 588 dogs with skin disease. The reflex was assessed by vigorously rubbing the tip of one earflap on to the base of the ear for five seconds, and it was considered positive if the ipsilateral hind leg made a scratching movement. A diagnosis of scabies was based on the dog's history, a physical examination and either positive skin scrapings or the complete resolution of pruritus and dermatitis after treatment with ivermectin or milbemycin, with no relapse for at least 12 months. Scabies was diagnosed in 55 of the dogs, allergic skin disease in 463, and 70 had other miscellaneous skin diseases. There was a positive pinnal-pedal scratch reflex in 45 (82 per cent) of the 55 dogs with scabies. Forty (73 per cent) of the dogs with scabies had pinnal dermatitis, and 36 (90 per cent) of these had a positive pinnal-pedal scratch reflex. There was a positive pinnal-pedal scratch reflex in 33 (6.2 per cent) of the other 533 dogs. On the basis of these results, the specificity of testing for scabies by the pinnal-pedal scratch reflex was 93.8 per cent, and the sensitivity was 81.8 per cent. The test's positive predictive value was 057 and its negative predictive value was 0.98.
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↵Dr Mueller's present address is Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
↵Dr Bettenay's present address is Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
↵Dr Shipstone's present address is Dermatology for Animals, 263 Appleby Road, Stafford Heights, Queensland 4053, Australia