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Mitaban for Demodectic Mange: Friend or Foe?

A dog with mange. Source: Flickr

On paper, Mitaban seems like the best weapon any dog owner can have against mange, especially the demodectic variety; you pour a liquid all over an affected dog’s body and it promptly kills all the mites responsible for the skin problem. Do this a couple of times and the bugs will be gone and your dog will recover. How easy!

However, things are never that simple in the real world. Mitaban, while still endorsed by some vets and owners also has its fair share of critics, and they are very adamant about preventing the use of the product as an option for demodectic mange treatment.

And the most astounding thing about the debate? The critics may be right after all.

The Basics

Mitaban is actually the name of a medicinal product, with Amitraz as the active ingredient. However, Mitaban, as with all other super brands in the commercial world today, is synonymous with the drug itself.

Source: Wiki Commons

The product is marketed as a treatment option for mange in dogs, and is intended for use as a sort of insecticide – any demodex mite that comes into contact with the solution will be poisoned and die in a short amount of time.

The drug itself is produced as a liquid-based solution contained in small bottles, and normally used only after giving the dog a bath. The solution is very concentrated, however, so the instructions for its use strongly emphasize diluting the solution with water before administering to the dog. Once that is done, the diluted Mitaban is poured over the dog, making every effort to ensure that the skin is completely covered.

The instructions also recommend applying the solution directly on the skin surface, even going so far as to suggest that the fur on long-haired dogs be shaved away to enable better access to the skin. This is because of the way Mitaban works: once applied, the demodex mites living on the dog’s skin are exposed to the drug, which will begin the process of culling their numbers. This is done by disrupting the nervous systems of the mites, which will paralyse and eventually kill them.

An Efficient Pesticide

The nice thing about Mitaban/Amitraz is that for the most part, it lives up to its expectations. It’s a merciless killer that will eradicate the mite population in just a couple of doses, and its repelling properties are also able to ward off any new mites hoping to get on board. This is why the instructions suggest giving a dose after a bath; the solution will be washed away and rendered ineffective as a result.

In addition, the cost for this treatment is relatively affordable as well, compared to other methods such as Ivermectin or Interceptor. A standard bottle of Mitaban usually costs less than 50 USD, and contains enough for several doses before running out.

Because of the perceived effectiveness of the product, as well as the low costs involved, it’s no wonder that many vets all over the world use it as one of the remedies for

Source: Flickr

demodectic mange. For the frustrated dog owner looking for a quick fix to their mange problem, Mitaban seems to be the perfect solution.

But if Mitaban was that good a product, why then are there still detractors claiming that it actually worsens your dog’s condition instead of curing it practically overnight, as everyone else seems to say? Is it really a bad idea to use the Mitaban/Amitraz dip for your dog?

A Double-edged Sword

In order to understand where the naysayers are coming from, it is necessary to go back and understand how Mitaban supposedly gets rid of the mange mites in the first place. As previously discussed in the earlier chapters, Mitaban works by interfering with the nervous systems of the mites, which will paralyse and kill them. Sounds quick and clean, right?

As it turns out, apparently not.

The thing with Mitaban is that it does not discriminate in whom it affects. It is still not clear how Amitraz really manipulates the nervous system, but what is known is that any living thing that touches the substance will experience the negative effects commonly used to get rid of the mites.

So, what does this mean? To put it simply, the Mitaban affects your dog just as much as the mites it is supposed to kill.

Do recall that the drug is poured over your dog’s body in order to get to the mites. However, one major point many people don’t realise is that in the process of penetrating the mites, the Mitaban also gets absorbed by the dog’s skin at the same time, with the same negative effects.

As a result, the Mitaban will unavoidably poison your dog, along with the mites. The only way to ensure that the treatment remains safe is to ensure that the dosage is enough to just kill off the mites, without inflicting too much damage on the dog; an excessively strong dose can most assuredly cause fatal damage to both the dog and the mites, which is honestly the very worst outcome imaginable!

Negative Side

Even a perfectly measured dosage cannot guarantee the prospect of having no side effects whatsoever. Many dog owners who have tried Mitaban as an option for getting rid of demodectic mange have reported some negative reactions experienced by their dogs. Their symptoms can range from increased aggressiveness to severe lethargy, and can cause vomiting and weakness, among other things. In the long term, the drug can also damage the liver systems and cause diabetic-type diseases.

This dog doesn't have mange, but he sure looks pretty tired. Source: Flickr

The only thing worse about hearing all these side effects is that they are only experienced by normal dogs with no genetic allergies whatsoever. For those with a natural allergy to drugs like Mitaban, such as Border Collies or other herding breeds and even more besides, the reaction experienced by them is severely amplified. Even the tiniest dose may see them lying motionless on the floor for the entire day, incapacitated by the effects of the Mitaban solution. A normal dose would most definitely be fatal for them.

Final Thoughts

It would be wrong to say that Mitaban is completely ineffective against demodectic mange – it definitely is. It is able to eradicate the mite infestation relatively quickly, which will stop the progress of the skin problem.

However, it is because of this perceived ‘easy fix’, as well as its myriad of side effects that lead to misuse and consequent worsening of the dog’s health. Mitaban, as has been stressed many times over, is a very potent drug, which affects more than just the mites it is meant to treat. In fact, every instruction or guide for the product advises the user to put on a pair of protective gloves before administering it, and further stresses the need for safety when doing so. If it was truly that toxic for even the owner to handle, what does that say for its effect on the dog itself?

The drug is only available through a vet’s prescription, with evidently good reason; its usage is and should be dictated firmly by the professionals who know best. For their part, a vet is able to determine if the breed is capable of withstanding the side effects, as well as the suitable dosage before suggesting its use. Some of the better ones will even offer to demonstrate by performing the first couple of dips themselves before entrusting the owners with the task.

Once left alone, however, the problem resurfaces. Are the measurements correct? Will it cause severe side effects? What if there is a mistake made somewhere?

Yes, Mitaban can be used as an effective weapon against demodectic mange, but with the negative aspect of harming the dog attached to it, is it worth using? Only the owner himself, I’m afraid, can answer that question.

Related posts:

  1. Demodectic Mange Treatments: A Basic Overview
  2. Demodectic Mange Treatments Overview: Vet Approved Medicines
  3. Using Ivermectin for Demodectic Mange, Explained
  4. Demodectic Mange: 4 Questions You Need To Ask
  5. Does Your Dog Have Demodectic Mange? 5 Ways To Identify The Symptoms

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