Demodectic Mange (Demodex canis), also called Red
Mange, is a non-contagious skin disease caused by a tiny,
eight-legged parasitic mite that lives in the hair follicles and
skin glands of dogs. Puppies are infected with mites from contact
with the skin of their mother while nursing. The disease is seen in
Localized mange, which is confined to a few small
areas such as the face or front feet, and is relatively easy to
treat, occurs in puppies under one year of age. Generalized mange is
much more severe, and treatment is not always successful.
Most dogs have a microscopic mite population
hitching a ride on their body, but the dog's immune system handles
it all very nicely. When the immune system is no longer able to
control the mites, they begin multiplying, then attacking. It is
thought that dogs infected with demodectic mange are immunodeficient.
In other words, they are not able to fight off the mites like a
healthy dog would. Heredity is believed to play a part in dogs that
show signs of demodectic mange so it is strongly recommended that
infected dogs be spayed or neutered. Signs of disease appear only
when mites reproduce unchecked and occur in unnaturally high
numbers. Outbreaks are seen around the eyes, lips and/or lower limbs
when the numbers of these mites increase.
Because the immune system does not mature until
12-18 months of age, a dog with demodectic mange may have relapses
until that age. It is important for treatment to begin promptly to
minimize the possibility of developing uncontrollable problems.
Demodectic mange in dogs over 2 years of age is classified as
adult-onset, and usually occurs secondary to an underlying cause.
Successful treatment of adult-onset mange relies upon identifying
and correcting the underlying cause. Dogs with immune suppression
due to illnesses like hypothyroid disease, and Cushing's disease,
are also candidates for demodectic mange. Demodectic mange may also
occur in very old dogs because function of the immune system often
declines with age.
Some dogs infected with demodectic mange may have
secondary skin infections. The skin becomes dry, crusty, and
brittle, it will ooze serum, blood or pus. A strong, offensive skin
odor may be present due to a bacterial infection. The secondary
infection responds to antibiotics like cephalexin or clavamox.
Conventional treatment depends upon the severity of
the disease. Generally, veterinarians recommend treatment with a dip
containing Amitraz. The dip is repeated every 7-10 days. Although
the dog may respond well to the dip and look normal, dipping must be
continued until negative skin scrapings are found consistently for a
few weeks. The dipping may have side effects. Sleepiness and itching
are common for 24 hours after the dip. Some dogs many experience
decreased body temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of
appetite, excitability, staggering, or other personality changes. If
any of these side effects occur you should contact your veterinarian
Amitraz can reduce the function of the hypothalamus,
which helps regulate the body's metabolism by controlling hormone
release in the body. In animal studies, amitraz caused episodes of
increased aggression, as well as some central nervous system
depression. In addition to the dip, to treat more generalized cases
of mange, many veterinarians are now prescribing daily doses of
Eqvalan, which is liquid ivermectin. Dr. Jean Dodds has written
extensively about ivermectin as a trigger for immune-mediated
diseases. Ivermectin should not be used in combination with Amitraz
dip nor with Amitraz tick prevention collars. These medicines are
all members of the monoamine oxidase inhibitor group; when they are
used together their effects combine together creating sedation and
adverse neurologic effects.
Conventional treatments do work but at what expense
to your dog's health? Since conventional veterinary medicine relies
heavily on a highly toxic method of treatment, and suppressed immune
function is the cause of demodectic outbreaks, you should consider
an alternative. Using a combination of natural diet, vitamins,
minerals and herbs, you support the immune system while treating the
Immune suppressed dogs require a high quality, all
natural food. Select a raw food diet, a cooked diet, or an ultra
premium dry food with lots of raw pulverized vegetables. Select
organically grown vegetables or use one of the pesticide cleaners
available in supermarkets for use on fruits and vegetables. Add
leafy dark green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables — broccoli,
cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, bok choy, and carrots (carrots
should be blanched one minute to release the carotenes). If you feed
raw foods, increase the veggies.
To each meal: sprinkle a teaspoon of sesame seed
oil--on the food. This is an important oil for immune function and
skin repair. Also add a variety of dried sea vegetables like wakami,
nori, dulce and kelp. The sea vegetables should be offered at least
4-5 days a week or even every day if your Akita likes it. Feed fish,
boneless poached or canned fish. Do not use tuna, tuna and swordfish
are laden with mercury; sardines, salmon, mackerel or fresh water
fish are good choices. When giving fish, cook some white rice and
mix with the fish. Avoid grains like wheat or rye--rice, barley and
oats are okay.
NO VACCINES. Not even one. The immune system in
these dogs is already severely stressed; they do not need additional
viral components circulating in the blood. Stop using all chemicals
including dips, flea/tick spot-ons, pills, or flea collars. You are
attempting to reinstate immune function not add to the collective
The following supplements are for the immune system
and should be given daily. If you find a product that combines these
antioxidants in one capsule, use it:
Zinc: 50mg (chelated type) Vitamin C with
bioflavonoids: start at 500mg and work up to 3,000mg by
Selenium: 200mcg (There is a product called Selene E from
Twinlabs. It contains the right amount of selenium and Vitamin
Vitamin E: 400 IU twice daily
Cod liver oil capsules: 3 gel caps twice daily
25,000 IU of Marine carotene (it is available in health food
stores—another Twinlabs product. One gel cap daily:
increasing in increments of 500mg weekly. If your dog develops a
stool, back off by 500mg and maintain the level.
Nutritional yeast: one tablespoon daily
Lecithin granules: one teaspoon daily
Milk thistle: follow directions on bottle for an adult human.
One-half teaspoon of bee pollen (optional but great nutrients)
Hokamix 30, a vitamin/mineral/herbal supplement: follow
The following herbs are to boost her immune system
and fight bacterial infections. Wherever possible purchase organic
herbs that are "Standardized."
Extract: Follow directions on bottle.
Astragulus: Follow directions on bottle.
Cat's Claw: Follow directions on bottle.
Kyolic garlic: Follow directions on bottle.
Pau d'Arco: 4 capsules twice daily.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Capsules or tablets: 225mg daily.
Flax seed oil (organic) gel caps: one twice daily.
Plant based digestive enzymes available at health food stores.
Give two capsules per meal.
Add a few tablespoons of plain yogurt to each meal
or give acidophilus supplements. It is very important to maintain
good intestinal bacteria when fighting parasites.
Homeopathics: Do not touch the pellets with your
hand, simply twist or shake them into the little cap and pour into
the dog’s mouth:
Sulphur 6X: one tablet in am and one in pm: use for 10 days.
FOR THE TOPICAL TREATMENTS: Consider the degree of
sensitivity of the open sores. If your dog is very sore and
sensitive, you can give two valerian capsules an hour before you use
the solutions. It is an herbal tranquilizer-very safe-that will take
the edge off and make the dog more comfortable. After a few days,
she won't need valerian because she will begin to heal enough to
treat without help. If the inflamed skin is severe, ask your
veterinarian for lidocaine spray and use it sparingly to control
surface pain before applying topical treatment. Pain adds stress and
stress should be avoided. You should experiment to find the most
effective solution with the least discomfort. Start carefully with a
dilution to see how much your dog can tolerate.
Purchase the herbs as liquid extracts; the
grapefruit seed extract is available as a liquid.
Mix a combination of one part lavender oil, one part
oil, to 9 parts almond oil. Apply to sores and infected areas
once or twice daily.
Topical treatment #2
Mix ten drops of yellow dock extract with ten drops
of Echinacea extract, dilute with four ounces of distilled water and
apply. Yellow dock is effective as an itch treatment. Other herbs
that help with itching are calendula and aloe vera.
Topical Treatment #3
Make up a mixture of three tablespoons fresh lemon
juice mixed with two ounces of witch hazel and four ounces of
distilled water: Add 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract and six
drops each of tea tree oil, golden seal root, olive leaf extract,
and pau d'arco. Keep away from the eyes. Spray or dab onto sores
once a day.
After each application each case, allow the topical
solutions to dry.
The following Bach Remedies are an adjunct to this
program: Bach remedies are flower extracts that help with the
psychological effects of disease and emotional upsets. Combine equal
parts of the following remedies into one dark glass bottle, and a
small amount of distilled water. Keep the remedies in a cool dark
place. Add about 15 drops to the water bowl daily:
NO DRUGS. NO CHEMICALS. NO DIPS. Each of these will
further damage the immune system.
It is difficult if not impossible to get an accurate
reading of thyroid function when the dog is ill with demodectic
mange. This is especially true when dips and biocides are used
initially as a treatment. To assist the immune system in recovery, I
suggest starting a trial with Soloxine. Soloxine does not shut down
thyroid function it assists the gland by adding hormone to the
bloodstream. Once the dog is well, you can stop the Soloxine and if
the dog had normal thyroid function prior to the demodectic event,
the gland will resume the same level of function after thirty days.
The danger is not using thyroid hormone replacement in a dog with
hypothyroid disease and since accurate testing is difficult under
the circumstances, using Soloxine by Daniels is recommended. Of
course, discuss all of this with your veterinarian or seek out a
homeopathic veterinarian. A list of homeopathic veterinarians is
(c) Copyright 2000 Barbara Bouyet
A more up-to-date article
is available in "Akita-Treasure of Japan,
Volume II" available at