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Demodectic Mange Treatments: A Basic Overview

First Aid Bag

Source: Wiki Commons

This article contains a brief introduction of the various treatment options available for curing demodectic mange in dogs. If you you’re looking to learn more about demodectic mange in general, or the symptoms usually associated with the skin disease, then I highly suggest reading the articles concerning those first before diving into the topic of treatment; getting to know the problem is an important step in treating any skin problem, after all.

If you’re still reading this, I’m going to assume that you already know the basics of demodectic mange, and that you’re ready to know more about curing the problem. In that case, let us begin!

Overview

As you have no doubt learned already, demodectic mange is primarily a skin condition caused by an overpopulation of the demodex mite, which is due to a weakened immune system in the affected dog. It’s important to understand that if this immune system remains weak, the skin problem will persist and may even worsen over time, no matter what we use to solve the problem.

This is why demodectic mange treatments require a dog owner to tackle up to three areas related to the problem: the excessive number of demodex mites, the immune system and the diet; only by paying attention to all three components can demodectic mange be truly cured.

To help you in learning more about curing demodectic mange, the following few sections of this article contain short overviews of every method that have been used with tangible results. These methods can be grouped into five different categories, based on their benefits and how they can help with the skin problem.

Let’s start with the most common treatment available for dogs: Vet-prescribed medicines.

Veterinary Medicine

The vet is often the go-to person when a dog has a problem. This is no different for those affected with demodectic mange; in fact, most vets frequently receive dogs with mange problems as patients.

Pills

Don't worry, he won't be eating that many pills. Source: Flickr

In the case of demodectic mange, most, if not all vets will give the dog owner some medicine. These include (but aren’t limited to):

1.)    Goodwinol ointment – This ointment’s purpose is to repel and kill parasites when applied. The vet may prescribe this if your dog only has mild symptoms of demodectic mange.

2.)    Ivermectin – This comes in several different forms, like chewing tablets, topical injections or liquids administered orally. This is only available as a prescription drug; vets usually use Ivermectin on standard demodectic mange cases.

3.)    Mitaban (Amitraz) – Mitaban is a medicated dip usually recommended by vets as an alternative to Ivermectin. The affected dog is first given a good bath to make sure the body is as clean as possible before dousing him in Mitaban. It acts like a pesticide, where it helps to kill the fleas.

 

Natural Medicine

There are several natural alternatives to the chemical-based medicine given by vets. Because they’re entirely made out of herbs and plant extracts, they’re very safe to use in dogs and are effective in their own ways as well.

1.)    Garlic – The humble garlic is an excellent repellent for all kinds of parasites, including the demodex mite. It also helps to repair the skin.

2.)    Wormwood – Used for centuries as an insect repellent and pesticide, this is another weapon in the natural arsenal.

Neem Plant

A neem plant, the main ingredient for neem oil. Source: Flickr

3.)    Neem oil – Most people who have used Neem oil swear by its powerful healing properties and its potency in getting rid of parasites.

 

Herbs, Vitamins and other Health Supplements

It’s very important to understand that a dog’s immune system is the key to defeating demodectic mange; if it’s strong enough, it can keep the mite population in check without any external help. On the flip side, the demodex mites are always lying in wait for the dog’s immune system to be weakened before seizing the opportunity to overcome the defences and multiply again.

This is why it’s very important to rebuild a dog’s immune system as part of an ongoing treatment for demodectic mange – the strengthened defences will start to help out by decreasing the mite population on the body. That’s half the battle won!

I’ve found that the best way to do this is through the use of health supplements, vitamins and a few particular herbs. For example, fish oil capsules can greatly increase a dog’s resistance to demodex mites. Vitamin C is also another option, as is Selenium and Vitamin E. Of course, measuring out the correct amounts is very important: too much of a good thing is usually a bad thing, after all. Caution must be exercised when administering the supplements.

 

Diet

“You are what you eat.” An old cliche, but incredibly true in this case – if your dog has an unhealthy diet of, say, fried chicken fed from the table, it’s pretty obvious that he’ll eventually get fat and unhealthy, too.

As you may already have guessed, this is a major point in the case of demodectic mange. A lousy diet translates to a body stuffed full of fats and grease. More importantly, there is a severe lack of nutrients in the diet, which is incidentally the very thing required in

I don't blame you if you feel hungry looking at this, though.

As appetising as it is, you really shouldn't feed this to your dog. Source: Flickr

maintaining a dog’s immune system.

So what happens when the dog doesn’t get any nutrients? Exactly – the immune system gets weak, while the demodex mites get ready to have a party!

The good news is that fixing this is as simple as changing the dog’s diet. Giving him healthy food, like more vegetables and fish, will go a long way towards reversing this process by building up the immune system, which in turn will start doing its job in fighting the demodex mites.

 

Reducing Stress

Stress can play a very large role in causing demodectic mange.

The dog’s immune system is, once again, the centre of this topic. When stressed, the dog’s immune system will suffer and weaken. This will of course allow the demodex mites room to reproduce, eventually subduing the defences entirely. Obviously, the lack of stress would mean the exact opposite; the immune system stays strong and the mites don’t get a chance to increase their numbers.

A few stress-related events can trigger the onset of demodectic mange in dogs, such as:

1.)    Sexual Cycles and Maturity

This could possibly be one of the biggest catalysts for mange in dogs. When a dog reaches sexual maturity, the hormones in the body will start causing stress.

If a dog is shown to be visibly affected by demodectic mange due to sexual maturity, it’s in its best interests to have it sprayed or neutered. Sterilization will remove the source of the problematic hormones that cause the stress, reducing the pressure on the immune system as a result.

2.)    Vaccines

Vaccines work by injecting weak forms of microorganisms that cause diseases into the dog, training the immune system to recognise and destroy them. This makes him more capable in repelling similar microorganisms from infecting him in future.

 

Target

Target by Jasper Johns. Source: Flickr

In other words, vaccines are like target practice for a dog’s immune system!

However, giving a dog a vaccine means subjecting the immune system under stress, because it’s trying to learn how to fight a new disease. Meanwhile, the never-ending wave of demodex mites can seize the lack of attention given to them to launch a new attack against the dog’s immune defences. If weakened enough by the vaccine introduction, the demodex mites can break through and overcome it, starting yet another case of demodectic mange.

Remedying this source of stress is simple – simply reduce the vaccines the dog gets! The already-weak immune system is already losing the fight against demodex mites, so stopping any unnecessary vaccines will help it to focus on what’s important: helping to recover from demodectic mange.

 

Conclusion

We can clearly see that there are many ways of treating demodectic mange. However, most of these treatment options focus only on one piece of the puzzle; it’s very important to note that treating demodectic mange requires a dog owner to pay attention to several different factors at the same time to ensure that progress is made.

The information contained within this article is a brief overview of the different methods possible, but there is a lot more to learn but each method in other articles that focus exclusively on it. If you want to know more about the different types of demodectic mange treatment, I suggest going back to the main Demodectic Mange page for those articles with the information you need.

If you’ve read enough and are willing to start taking action, or are just plain confused about the right way to treat demodectic mange, I highly urge you to sign up for my e-course by using the form located to the top-right of this page. It will give you step-by-step instructions on how to cure your dog’s skin problem, and is delivered straight to you by email, free of charge.

Related posts:

  1. Demodectic Mange: 4 Questions You Need To Ask
  2. Dog Mange: Why Bugs Are Mean
  3. Does Your Dog Have Demodectic Mange? 5 Ways To Identify The Symptoms

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