Demodectic Mange

Demodex — a special kind of hell

Demodectic Mange is a complex and often confusing disease and an amazing amount of misinformation surrounds the condition. Much of what you’ll learn below may be new to you.

We commend you for digging deep and learning all you can about healing your beloved pet.

The Cause

Demodectic mange (Demodex canis) cause Demodectic mange, also known as demodicosis, follicular mange, red mange or puppy mange.

These are naturally occurring mites and all dogs dog have some. A healthy dog’s immune system keeps the population low, but an underdeveloped, suppressed or compromised immune system allows the mite population to flourish.

They burrow deep into the skin & live under layers of sappy sebum and oxidized debris debris.

When a dog develops mange, it is always a symptom of immune system problems. We’ll cover the causes and symptoms of these issues below. Learn how to support your dog’s immune system health here.

Illustration of dog mange demodectic mites in hair follicle.
Densely packed demodectic mange mites in hair follicle.

Key Facts:

  • It’s not your fault your dog has mange.
  • Health conditions that compromise the immune system increase the likelihood of developing Demodex.
  • Demodex dogs have yeast problems whether the dog is symptomatic or not.
  • It is not contagious. People & other pets can’t catch it.
  • They’re microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye.
  • They burrow deep into the skin & live under layers of waste and debris.
  • Puppies & juveniles under 3 years of age are the most common victims.
  • Mange can be a progressive disease.


While there are some classic features, the situation is somewhat different for every dog. Some dogs have only one or two symptoms and some have many.

Demodectic mange symptoms can also resemble other medical conditions which increases misdiagnoses. Our Symptom Checker can help you narrow down which type your dog has.

Key Facts:

  • Symptoms develop as the immune system re-allocates resources.
  • Localized form involves 1-2 body regions and or 4-5 isolated patches.
  • Generalized form affects the majority of the dog and is often accompanied by secondary skin infections.
  • Itching is often worse at night.

Diagnosis & Misdiagnosis

Skin scraping is the most common diagnostic tool. However, scrapings can be unreliable. Demodectic mites burrow deep and are well barricaded. A positive scrape is actually a blessing because 80% of scrapes are negative and many of those dogs do have mites.

Diagnosis is challenging because the outward symptoms of Demodex look like many allergies and dermatitis. If Demodex is misdiagnosed, treating the wrong problem can waste valuable time.

Steroids and antibiotics are routinely prescribed, both of which impact the immune system very negatively and the mange snowballs. However, when treatment for the wrong condition fails it can be interpreted as a diagnostic tool that you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Sadly, too many of our customers echo this scenario. When nothing else works they are forced to figure it out for themselves.

Regardless of diagnoses, before moving forward with any type of treatment, please research the risks of the proposed treatments as many can have unintended side effects.

Key Facts:

  • A negative skin scrape does not guarantee your dog doesn’t have mites.
  • Never allow steroids to be administered.
  • Use antibiotics only in the presence of obvious, serious infection.
  • Don’t agree to any treatment before you have time to research it.

The Thing About Puppies

Key Facts:

  • Demodectic mange affects juvenile dogs under three years of age more than any other age group.
  • The risk of a puppy developing chronic lifetime mange decreases dramatically with strong detox & immune support.

Puppies and juvenile dogs under 3 years of age are the most frequent victims of Demodectic mange. They are born with immature, under-functioning immune and digestive systems, both of which are critical contributors to a puppy’s ability to control its mite population even in the best of times.

Unfortunately puppies have some of their most stressful challenges early in life such as re-homing, vaccines, neutering and more.

Rescue dogs have the cards stacked against them due poor diet, lack of health care, and the stressful environments they have endured.


Traditional Approach:

Almost all traditional mange treatments are chemical pesticides delivered in the form of dips, medications and even flea treatments. All of these contain systemic neurotoxins that spread through the body, globally turning cells poisonous which are lethal when ingested by insect pests. Overall they fail about 1/3 of the time, have a high incidence of harmful side effects.

Side effects can range from digestive upset to wobbly legs to seizures and on rare occasions, death. Some owners have success and are comfortable with chemical treatments, some don’t know they have options and a growing number want nothing to do with them.

Holistic Approach:

Today, more and more pet owners demand safer alternatives and seek a natural route. Sadly, information on natural options is scarce.

There are many home remedies and commercial products available for treating mange and we recommend following a holistic plan that kills mites and remediates the underlying root problems such as diet. Click here to read How to Starve Mange.

There is a space for both chemical & natural treatments – the treatment choice for you should be what’s best for you and your dog. Our free e-book has much more information than we can provide here. It’s sure to be of benefit as you guide your dog back to health. Click here to download our e-book.

Key Facts:

  • Chemicals are immuno-suppressive & do not treat the root causes of Demodex.
  • Herding breeds like Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Old English Sheepdogs, and others known to carry the MDR1 gene mutation should never be treated with chemicals.
  • Mange can get worse during any method of treatment. Here’s a great blog post that explains it.

Beat The Odds

Our natural approach safely kills mites without caustic or toxic chemicals. Mite Avenge® is the most effective natural mite killer you can buy and Happy Dog Naturals® is the only source that explains all the facts and offers a proven solution.

We’re honest enough to be up front with what’s involved even though it costs us business from those not willing to undertake a multi-pronged approach to cure demodectic mange.

We built this company to help you be the best guardian-advocate a dog could have and the products we offer are selected to give you the expert tools to help you win the battle against mange.

Key Resources:

Here’s our 6-step plan to treat Demodex – holistically!
Here’s how to apply Mite Avenge® like a pro.

Now, go forth and save your dog!

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