The canine version of demodectic mange is primarily caused by an overpopulation of demodex mites on a dog’s body. The activities of these mites on the body aggravate the skin, causing widespread hair loss and red sores to appear, both of which are symptoms of the mange.
There are numerous ways to treat the skin problem. Often, vets will recommend established drugs like Ivermectin or Mitaban to dog owners looking for a solution. These methods work by applying the chemicals indirectly onto the mites, poisoning and killing them instantly.
But while Ivermectin and Mitaban are widely cited as ‘demodectic mange cures’, it doesn’t mean that they should be used exclusively. In fact, there have been many cases of dog owners just using one method of treatment and hoping for a miracle, which usually results in an even worse case of mange and a steadily increasing medical bill. The point is, one shouldn’t just rely on any one treatment method to be successful.
So what other things can a dog owner do to get rid of their dog’s demodectic mange?
To be honest, there’s a whole slew of ideas about great home remedies for the skin problem floating about the internet, but for now, I’m just going to focus on the simplest one of all: medicated shampoos.
Everyone knows what shampoos are for – they’re used to clean ourselves and make us feel and smell good. It’s the same deal for dogs, too. Shampoo is always needed when you give your dog a bath. It helps clean up the body, and it also washes off the gunk and excess oil. This usually has the pleasant side effect of removing that ‘dog smell’ they get when it’s been a while since their last bath.
Shampoos and baths have another purpose as well: to get rid of parasites on the body. And I’m sure you know by now just what kind of parasites deserves to be washed out of that forest of fur…
The simple fact of the matter is that mites don’t stick to the body like glue. On the contrary, they are highly mobile organisms that can evacuate a host in seconds, so it doesn’t really take much to dislodge them.
There is one problem, however. One of the favorite hangouts of demodex mites is inside the hair follicles, which is a snug fit and a very safe place to hide in. Usually, a good bath will wash off the mites unlucky enough to be inside a hair follicle when it happens, but the mites already in their safe spots will survive unscathed. They would just dust themselves off and rebuild their population again once the storm has passed for them.
Which is why the medicated shampoo is required.
There are many types of medicated shampoos on the market today, but benzoyl peroxide shampoo is widely considered to be one of the best types available for dogs.
One important thing to remember: When buying a benzoyl peroxide shampoo, make absolutely sure that the shampoo is made exclusively for canines. Human versions of this shampoo (yes, we need those too sometimes) are much too concentrated for dog use, and would cause more harm than good.
So, what’s so special about this benzoyl peroxide shampoo thing? At first glance, it may look like any other shampoo out there, but it’s what it does that makes it very attractive.
Benzoyl peroxide shampoos are marketed as having anti-bacterial properties, as well as the ability to remove grease and most importantly, to ‘flush’ the hair follicles.
Starting to see the picture yet? This medical shampoo is, in fact, the answer to our problem. With it, it doesn’t matter where the mites are, they would just be washed away easily. Hiding in the follicles won’t make a difference now too, because those places aren’t safe anymore.
Another potential benefit to using this shampoo is that it flushes the excess oil secreted by the dog’s body. This grease is what gives off that ‘doggy smell’, and it’s also food for the mites. Therefore, even if there are any mites left after a good bath, they’ll be left with little to no sustenance for them to live on.
But here’s a catch: that natural oil is still needed to moisturize the skin of your dog, so it’s important that a small amount still remains on the body. Removing it entirely will cause the skin to dry up, making your dog itch and scratch, and eventually causing self-inflicted wounds that may invite some new skin problem for you to handle. Do try to achieve a good balance!
So far, we’ve gone through the many positive aspects of using the benzoyl peroxide shampoo, but what about the negative ones?
Apart from the side-effect of draining the supply of natural body oils from the dog’s body, the one downside of the shampoo is that unlike proper medicines like Ivermectin or Mitaban, the benzoyl peroxide shampoo doesn’t actively kill the mites – it just makes washing them off a whole lot easier. However, we’ve already established in the beginning of this article that a complete cure of demodectic mange usually isn’t achieved just by using one method of treatment, so a combination of treatment types is key.
I highly recommend the use of benzoyl peroxide shampoo – I’ve even included it in the treatment plan discussed in the Demodectic Mange Guide! If you’re in need of a good set of home remedies to treat your dog’s demodectic mange, why not give it a try?