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I'm interested in a cure for demodectic mange. We took in a very sickly dog last September. We've been putting lots of immune system-building supplements into him, but still the mange persists. Out of desperation, we have taken him to a local conventional vet for periodic dips, which I'm sure are quite toxic, but at least he gets some relief and hair growth for a while. This vet's only advice is euthanasia or continual dipping. We're about to purchase a special food of a better quality than we're giving him now.
Dr. Randy Kidd’s response:
Demodectic mange can be nasty and almost impossible to cure. Problem is that it is an outer manifestation of an inner imbalance in the immune system. So, we’d like to do all we can to enhance the immune system. Further problem here is that some animals are born with almost no immune system capability … and there are some that may never respond, no matter what we try.
Echinacea, taken orally, is my herb of choice to help balance the immune system. Sometimes acupuncture can be helpful in balancing the immune system. Other factors can be considered: nutrition – some people have luck with adding brewer’s yeast to the diet (also see previous question), decreasing stress, etc.
Of course, I’d like to use less toxic stuff to kill the bugs, but in my experience the less toxics (herbs, for example) are also less effective. However, I’ll see the occasional patient that will respond better to the herbs than to conventional drugs/dips.
Might try such herbs as wormwood, Echinacea, or one I’ve been looking at recently Sweet Annie (Artemesia anuus). Make a tea from the herb and use it as a dip. As some animals are sensitive to topical herbal remedies (as are some animals sensitive to commercial dips) do a test spot first – apply the tea to a small area and wait a day or two to see if there is any reaction on the spot.
Hope this helps and good luck.
Dr. Rose DiLeva’s response:
Demodectic mange is caused by mites that live in the hair follicles. It
is often difficult to diagnose because multiple skin scrapings may be required.
It is more common in younger animals but does effect those that have weakened immune systems. Regarding the food issue, diet is a major factor in the health of a pet. I would highly recommend a good quality food that does not contain BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, by-products, other preservatives or colorings. I would also recommend food allergy testing this dog. It can easily be done by a blood test and sent off to the right lab. Many of my skin problem cases had food allergies at the source. You'd be surprised how many dogs are allergic to wheat, corn, beef, soy, and yes, even lamb and rice. Just because some commercial pet food manufacturers say they have developed a hypoallergenic diet, does not mean that it doesn't contain something your pet may be sensitive to. I don't
recommend just switching to a new diet haphazardly and waiting to see what happens. I like to find out the cause of the problem. I like to find out exactly what that pet is reacting to. At the same time, I would be supporting the immune system with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. In Chinese medicine, the defense system or immune system is called the "wei qi." There are various herbs that can strengthen the "wei qi." The best choices, of course, would be dependent on the other clinical signs I detected at the physical examination.
Since the demodex is producing a lot of toxins, it would be beneficial to get the dog on a liver cleanse type of formula. Additionally, fresh filtered water can help as well. Demodex can be difficult to cure, I have found that ivermectin injections are sometimes necessary to break the cycle. Yes, it can be toxic, but sometimes it's the only thing to do. Good luck!