Three steps to relieve your dog's skin discomfort
Demodex and other skin parasites are so tiny that to them a pimple is a mountain, a hair follicle is an abyss and a wrinkle is a canyon. These tiny mites living on the surface of the skin and inside of the hair follicles and are species specific. That means a dog mite can only thrive on dogs and not on a cat or a human.
In normal situations, Demodex can be found in low numbers on the skin of healthy dogs. However, when a dog is stressed, over-vaccinated, malnourished or has an inefficient immune system, this parasite can spread and cause serious skin problems.
The most common symptoms are patchy or generalized hair loss, redness, secondary bacterial infections, itching and eruptions and inflammation of the skin. I have seen many dogs affected by this challenging condition and hope this article will give you the necessary information to help your dog as quickly as possible.
Demodex is usually the most severe in puppies. It is transferred by direct contact with the mother during nursing. This article focuses on natural treatments for Demodex, without drugs, antibiotics and chemicals.
Holistic approach to Demodex treatment
Neutralize vaccine side-effects
It may surprise you that I've put this step at the top of the list, but it is intentional because vaccines are, in my opinion, one of the primary causes of demodicosis in young dogs.
- Never vaccinate dogs with Demodex as they are already immune compromised. Vaccines contain toxic substances, such as mercury and formaldehyde. Click here for a holistic vaccination protocol and recommendations.
- If your dog has Demodicosis and has been vaccinated, use the homeopathic remedy Thuja 200 C. Give one dose and then repeat in two and four weeks. This remedy neutralizes the vaccine side-effects and is known to improve hair growth in many cases.
Relieve your dog’s redness and itching
Bathe your dog once every two to four weeks. Bathing too frequently with medicated shampoos can make things worse.
Apply Skin Spray to the affected areas as needed. Keep the applications at the minimum effective frequency to control the itching and stop if you see that the skin is getting more irritated and red.
Support the immune system
There are four main factors affecting the immune system:
- Intestinal health
- Excessive stress
- Essential nutrients
Feeding species-appropriate food is the key. Kibble is generally unsuitable for the digestive tract of dogs. Most people know a homemade cooked or raw diet is the way to go. If you wish to learn about the principles of natural diet feeding see our free course here.
There are a few Demodex specific pieces of information that you need to know:
- Do not feed fish, with the exception of wild salmon or wild trout. Do not feed beef, buffalo or bison as they contain high levels of arachidonic acid. an inflammatory factor.
- Do not give any milk products or grains because sensitive dogs are often intolerant.
- If you give treats, ideally make them yourself or buy locally-sourced and produced dehydrated meat treats.
2. Intestinal health
Because 80 percent of the immune system function is located in the intestinal tract, high potency, non-dairy probiotics will promote intestinal health and immune system function.
Ensuring your dog’s basic needs are met is the key. Two dog walks a day, healthy socialization and a reasonable amount of play are important.
In contrast, some dogs may get highly stressed when they are left alone for extended periods of time or when they spend their time in busy high play, high-stress dog daycares.
Additional stress may also be caused by a choke chain or collar and by the use of an inappropriate leash. Pressure on the throat and neck by leashes and collars causes interruption of energy flow in the body and results in stress.
Use a front-clip harness and gentle, shock-absorbing leash to reduce the risk of injuries.
A chiropractic evaluation for every dog with Demodex is the best practice to ensure that spinal energy flows well to all skin segments.
4. Supplements to help get rid of Demodex
Many people still do not understand that importance of giving all-natural essential supplements.
Here's what you should consider
- Collect your dog’s hair sample and submit it for a HairQ test analysis to check for heavy metals that can come from vaccines, food and the environment.
- Start a high-quality mineral and amino acid supplement.
- Add a full-spectrum, naturally-fermented multivitamin. Synthetic vitamins often cause irritation and excessive heat formation.
- Mix a high-quality omega oil supplement to your dog’s food.
Monitor progress and recheck
In most situations, young dogs, even with generalized severe Demodex, will recover. The rate of recovery may range from one to six months and in some cases longer. You want to observe that there is a general gradual improvement.
If you see gradual improvement, there is no need for a skin scraping test. However, if the rate of progress is slow, collecting a skin scraping sample will give you an idea of the number of Demodex. If the number is decreasing, great! If the count is the same or increasing, your dog is still likely immune compromised and further fine-tuning must be done.
In such cases, I suggest using a turmeric-based anti-inflammatory supplement, like Zyflamend, and a custom homeopathic prescription.
Comments on conventional drugs
- Considering the primary origin of demodicosis is immune system deficiency, adding conventional drugs to the treatment protocol should be a last resort and it may make the problem worse.
- Antibiotics may help with secondary skin infections, but they are rarely necessary.
- Amitraz is a very toxic drug and I do not recommend it. For more info click here for the Medical Safety Data Sheet for Amitraz.
- Ivermectin is a parasiticide that is sometimes used for the treatment of demodicosis. I suggest using this medication only if everything else fails and there is zero improvement over a period of six months.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM