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Demodectic Mange Treatments Overview: Vet Approved Medicines



Source: Flickr

One of the most common ways to treat demodectic mange in dogs is to seek the advice of a veterinarian. As an animal doctor, the vet is relied upon and trusted to deliver an effective solution within minutes of consulting his patient.

There are currently three different types of treatment recommended by vets for curing demodectic mange: Ivermectin, Amitraz and Milbemycin. Each of them come in various forms and are administered differently.

This article will give you some general information about these three medicines, in order to help you understand them better.


The first product we will talk about is a medicine called Ivermectin, which is marketed under several brand names such as Ivomec, or Heartgard. Ivermectin is the active ingredient in the medicine itself, and is used for killing and repelling parasites such as the demodex mite, which causes demodectic mange.


A typical syringe used for giving liquid medicine orally. Source: Flickr

Ivermectin comes in a few different forms, including syringes filled with liquid solutions and tablets. The syringes are packaged with the drug already in them; all an owner needs to do is to feed the contents to the dog, which is very convenient. The tablets are of course taken orally as well.

Ivermectin works by taking over the neurological controls of any parasites feeding on the affected dog and disabling them. In short, it paralyses and causes significant damage to them, therefore getting rid of any mite affected by it.

Because it’s so simple to use with a relatively high success rate (provided the exact dosage is given), Ivermectin is the preferred choice for all vets dealing with a case of demodectic mange.


Amitraz is another anti-parasitic drug that can be used to kill demodex mites that are causing the mange outbreak on your dog. This medicine is sold under various product names, but Mitaban seems to be the most popular one in the market today.

Amitraz functions primarily as a pesticide; it treats demodectic mange by destroying mites and repelling any future infections. Like Ivermectin, it does this by damaging the nervous systems of the mites, causing paralysis and killing them. Unlike Ivermectin, however, Amitraz is purely meant to be used externally, as opposed to the former where it only takes effect when introduced into the dog’s bloodstream.

The medicine is usually sold in the form of topical solutions contained in bottles, although it also exists in the form of tick collars, which do nothing for demodectic mange and will not be discussed in this article.

Because the Amitraz solution held in the bottles is very potent, they must be diluted in

Bucket of Water

Source: Flickr

warm water first before administering it to a dog. Owners using this treatment for the first time must be guided by a vet to make sure that the instructions are followed correctly. Generally speaking, however, Amitraz is usually applied first by diluting the solution in water before dousing the affected dog with it. The chemical is meant to cover the dog’s body, so that it can get into direct contact with the mites before poisoning them.

It’s important to note that an Amitraz dip is very toxic; caution must be exercised whenever it is administered to a dog. Too much of it can cause severe side effects such as lethargy and depression for your dog, which is why vets usually recommend a dip just once a fortnight or so.


Milbemycin is another type of medicine that can be used for getting rid of mites. It’s more widely known by the name of a product, called Interceptor.

Interceptor is only administered in the form of chewable tablets; there is no other option unlike the previous two treatment methods. However, dogs don’t seem to mind the taste, so there are no problems in giving them their medicine. This is a good thing, because Interceptor is meant to be given daily.

It should be noted that Interceptor wasn’t created specially to deal with mites – they were originally meant as treatment for parasites living inside the body, such as heartworms, roundworms and hookworms. In addition to that, it has since been discovered that Interceptor also contributes in getting rid of mites as well, resulting in more vets recommending the product as an alternative for demodectic mange treatment. Even so, there is no official statement as yet in regards to its use as an accepted treatment for mites; using Interceptor tablets is still considered an unorthodox method.

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In any case, Interceptor has been proven to be relatively safe. There are no major side effects to speak of, and the success rate is relatively high as well. The only drawback of using Interceptor tablets would be the high costs incurred; the tablets are not exactly cheap, and they have to be given daily.

Should you use them?

There’s no doubt that the three treatment options discussed earlier would be successful in carrying out their objectives. Many people have reported that their dogs have since got better after a few doses of whatever choice they have made.

But does it mean that they’re entirely safe? To be honest, I’m not sure that’s the case.

I have already given some hints about their drawbacks in the earlier descriptions of each drug, but I think it’s very important that a few things be highlighted:

1.)    They are all chemically-based. There is a chance that the body of your dog may choose not to accept the treatment type you have chosen. This can result in unwanted side-effects such as severe lethargy, slow heartbeat rate and general malaise. Like humans, an overdose of any one drug could easily be fatal.

2.)    Some breeds of dogs are especially allergic to Ivermectin or Amitraz, especially herding dogs like Border Collies. They have a unique genetic trait that makes them extra susceptible to any negative effects from the drugs; a normal dose for any other dog could easily cause serious injuries and death for them.

Pesticide Sign

Source: Flickr

3.)    The products mainly function as pesticides. You may have read this before, but it bears repeating again: demodectic mange is an immune-system disorder. No matter how many mites you manage to get rid of, more will come back and continue causing the skin problem if you don’t fix the immune system. Therefore, giving your dog any one of these medicines and hoping for the best is not the best course of action. That, combined with the inherent toxicity of the drugs may even cause more problems in the near future.

4.)    Even if successful, you and your dog may come to rely on them too much. This can degenerate to the point where even a small lapse in the treatment schedule may cause a huge relapse of demodectic mange, and it happened solely because your dog is conditioned to use the drug as a substitute for the immune system, which was the one doing all the work in the first place. Again, over-reliance on the drugs for a long period of time may worsen your dog’s health, not improve it.


Ivermectin, Amitraz and Milbemycin have proven to be successful at what they do: killing mites. They have also helped in curing demodectic mange in dogs, as can be proven by the glowing reviews by some owners. At the same time, however, it doesn’t mean that they are the only acceptable treatments available; in fact, they may prove to be more harmful to your dog if given incorrectly or without understanding them better.

To read more about each treatment method described here in greater detail, the main demodectic mange webpage has the links to the articles you need. Alternatively, links to articles that explain more about other treatment types are available as well to give you detailed and informative information about them.

If you haven’t read it already, I also highly suggest heading over to Demodectic Mange Treatments: A Basic Overview for some background knowledge about the various remedies available for curing demodectic mange in the market today.

Related posts:

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

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