Are There Home Remedies for Dog Mange?
What Is Mange?
When you see a dog with mange, you can't help but assume that it has somehow been abused. Dogs with mange look so miserable, that you can't imagine how any owner could let the dog get that way, and you wonder if they even care for the animal. The truth is that mange can happen to any dog, including yours.
Mange is a parasitic skin disease caused by the Demodex mite—a distant relative of spiders. These mites burrow under the dog's skin where they mate, lay eggs, and then die. The eggs that are laid hatch, become larvae, mature into adults, and then the whole process begins again.
Can you imagine what it must feel like to have these insects living a millimeter or two under your skin? If you have ever experienced chiggers, take that experience and multiply it by 10.
Sarcoptic Mange vs. Demodectic Mange
Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious compared to demodectic mange and requires more aggressive treatment.
What Does Mange Look Like?
Unfortunately, the early symptoms of mange strongly resemble the symptoms of allergies, so it's difficult to diagnose. In fact, even when the condition becomes more obvious, it's still hard for a veterinarian to diagnose. That's because the standard test involves a skin scraping, and often no mites will be seen on the surface of the skin. As a result, vets will usually just go ahead and recommend mange treatment based on visible symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Mange?
- Persistent, aggressive scratching and biting
- Patches of hair loss particularly on the belly, ears, haunches, elbows, or armpits
- Bald patches that have red pustules that almost resemble bad acne
- A yellow crust on bald skin, particularly at the edges of the ears
If your dog is displaying these symptoms, you should pay a visit to the vet. Aside from the misery the dog is in, the real danger is that of a secondary infection. When mites invade the skin, the dog's immune system kicks in and tries to launch a defense.
The more the immune system is worked, the weaker the dog can become. Add to the mite invasion the possibility of a bacterial infection from the scratching and biting, and the dog's defenses will really be put to the test. If the condition warrants it, your vet can prescribe antibiotics to help with symptoms of infection.
The life cycle of a mite is about three weeks. If you can keep your pet free of mites for 12 weeks, then the mites and larvae under the skin will die.
Are There Home Remedies for Mange?
The vet will probably recommend a series of chemical dips, but this can be an unpleasant experience for both the dog and the person doing the dipping. Additionally, there can be some side effects that can make your dog sick for a short period of time.
As an alternative, your vet may recommend some methods that can be used at home for resolving mild cases. Understand that all of these remedies are designed to kill or repel the mites that are on the surface, not those under the skin. Note that homemade dips with chemicals like borax and hydrogen peroxide are not recommended.
Improve Your Dog's Immune System
Helping your dog fight the battle from the inside out is important. Consider adding omega-3 fatty acids to his or her food daily. Certain oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and help to create the natural skin oils that reduce itching from dry skin.
Adding an oil supplement to his or her food or disguising it in a treat works well—and you'll be helping the immune system ward off secondary infections. Good dog nutrition during this time is essential.
Mineral Oil for the Ears and Face
Ears are a favorite place for mites to migrate and mineral oil will kill the mites on the surface. The ears and face are sensitive areas, and it may be easier to tend to these areas separately with mineral oil if your vet advises you to do dips. Here's how to apply the oil:
Note: Always consult your veterinarian before applying mineral oil to your pup.
- Soak a cotton ball with mineral oil.
- Gently apply it to the affected area.
- Massage your dog's ears.
The good news is that this technique works. The bad news is that it wears off after about 8 hours.
On smaller dogs, and particularly for mange on the belly, ointments similar to Desitin for diaper rash work well. Your vet can prescribe one that is animal-safe. The oil in these ointments kill the mites.
Always Work With Your Vet
Now that we've reviewed some of the treatment options, consider what course of action is best. Always work closely with your veterinarian. You may also want to consider how you can help reduce stressors in your dog's life. Providing your dog with a happy home environment will help to keep them healthy.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.