Demodex – Your 6 Step Guide To Beating It
Demodex (Also called Demodicosis or Demodectic Mange) is caused by underlying health problems, mostly immune-related, that allow overpopulation of Demodectic mites. They release toxins that can initiate a cascade of related problems.
A holistic attack is the secret.
Demodex is a complicated set of problems that can’t be cured just by just killing the mites. The over-population of mites must reduced — but what about the things that started it all? We have to work on the whole dog with safe tools that work together.
The following program helps control demodex. The steps are all important because they work together holistically. You can add to them, but nothing can be taken away.
1. Flush your dog’s skin with benzoyl peroxide shampoo.
Bathe your dog with a 2½ to 3% benzoyl peroxide pet shampoo immediately before each Mite Avenge treatment to flush and clean the skin. Used properly, it will also flush out some mites.
The optimal bathing technique for flushing out debris and mites can be found here. Additional flushing baths are fine and can be done as often as daily if desired.
Why it’s important:
Demodex mites are coated in thick sticky sebum. This barrier of waste products and oils protects the mites from being washed out of the hair follicles where they live. Benzoyl peroxide shampoo is a gentle and effective way to clear out the sebum.
16 oz - Cleans and flushes hair follicles plus controls demodex, sarcoptic, and cheyletiella mites. Also important for use before Mite Avenge® drench, and other topical mange treatments.
2. Apply Mite Avenge immediately after shampooing.
The schedule for Demodectic mange is to apply one Mite Avenge treatment as directed twice a week. Treating more often is fine but treating less often is not. These treatment instructions will help you achieve optimal results.
Cease treatment after the skin returns to its normal healthy condition and hair has started to regrow. If you’re unsure, keep treating. The most common causes for recurrence are stopping treatments prematurely and not fully correcting the underlying immune system issues. Both will cause the mites to resurge.
Why it’s important:
Demodex repopulate quickly so do not cease treatment prematurely. Infrequent or inconsistent treatment encourages mite migration, reverses the progress made clearing out follicles, slows the reduction of the mite population, and allows more eggs to be laid.
3. Repair and restore immune health.
Behind many cases of Demodectic mange is:
• A weak or compromised immune system
• Yeast issues
Your dog may not show outward symptoms, but both are present. Self-repair is hampered by the additional stress the mites create, which is why immune support is important to recovery and remission.
Sometimes Demodex will reproduce faster than we can kill the mites. When we see treatment stall, or recurrence of the condition after treatment ceases, this is a sure sign the immune system is not strong enough to maintain control. It’s important to get aggressive about immune support. Learn more here.
You’ll also want to check out this video on easy immune-building tricks by respected holistic vet and immunology expert, Dr. Gerald Buchoff.
Why it’s important:
A weakened immune system does not self-repair and may continue to decline because of the immunosuppressive properties of yeast and the mites. You must resolve these issues.
The four key areas that need support are digestion, yeast control, detox, and immune function. If you’re interested in learning more, visit the Immune Function section here. It’s packed with ideas on how to help support your dog’s health and healing.
4. De-yeast your dog.
Mites eat cellular proteins, systemic yeast, dietary yeast, and/or sugar in the system. We can’t do anything about cellular proteins but we must reduce your dog’s yeast.
Candida internally and Malassezia on the skin make things much harder for your dog. Yeasts are destructive pathogens that sabotage immune health, impair recovery, increase itching, cause painful irritation, odor, infection, and loads of other problems. It’s a stubborn enemy that usually needs to be attacked from both the inside and out.
- Treat the skin with a special medicated anti-fungal shampoo meant for Malassezia. It may be the single most important part of the quick resolution for body yeast. We recommend using this shampoo twice a week for 3 weeks, then dropping down to once a week. If you’re also using Mite Avenge, bathe on non-treatment days.
- If the inner ear needs cleaning read our article about Ear Problems, Yeast and Mites.
- Sterilize the skin daily with diluted povidone iodine (twice daily when severe symptoms are present). Here’s how. Be sure to dunk those paws and wipe out the ears (as far as a large cotton ball will go).
- The other half of the battle is fought internally. Digestive tract restoration, Fungus control supplements, and the right foods are all important yeast defeaters. How do you control yeast internally? There’s a page about yeast here that will be your hero.
Why it’s important:
A weakened immune system does not self-repair and may continue to decline because of the immunosuppressive properties of yeast and mites. You can’t turn things around until you resolve these problems. Learn about supporting the four areas of the immune system that most affect Demodex.
5. Fix the diet.
Don’t feed the disease. Many dog foods contain fillers, additives and high carbohydrate ingredients.
Investigate grain free foods. Ban sugar and slash the carbs as low as you can. A species-appropriate raw diet is considered to be the best but if that is not possible, try one of the frozen raw foods. Feed a high-quality, balanced, grain-free food made from natural ingredients that’s low in carbohydrates. However, if that’s not realistic, this blog post provides guidance and tips for choosing a commercial dog food.
We won’t recommend or endorse any brand, but you may want to research your current or proposed food. You can do it here DogFoodAdvisor.com.
Important feeding tip:
While you’re in the store, check the foods you consider buying before you purchase. Use your phone and click this link – DogFoodAdvisor.com – for excellent independent reviews of a huge number of brands.
6. Limit all stress.
Stress is devastating to immune health. It can be responsible for demodicosis and it can also trigger a treatment setback.
Dogs are sensitive to the same things that stress us out like travel, annoying situations, negative energy, noise, weather, separation, sudden changes, vaccinations, dental & medical procedures. Avoid such stressful situations when possible.
Control all that you can proactively and try natural calming remedies when you can’t. They can be helpful when your pet becomes anxious, or prior to any situation that may cause them stress. Start calming measures ahead of time if you anticipate a situation that might make your pet anxious or stressed.
And don’t forget that plenty of exercise and rest are important for balance and healing.
Why it’s important:
Physiological and emotional stress are terribly damaging to immune health. Many of our customers can attribute the onset of the disease, or a setback in the treatment program, to stress.
Important Bonus Tips
Brush your dog daily!
Brushing improves circulation for healing, removes the latest surface debris that yeast and bacteria just love, decongests the follicles, reduces itching, and generally makes your dog happy.
Use a tool that exfoliates and stimulates the skin but won’t cause more damage or irritation with daily use. (If you don’t have something already, consider our Furminator.)
Provide maintenance care!
The risky period for Demodex Rebound is 6-12 months after recovery for an adult dog.
- Continue benzoyl peroxide baths at least weekly to maintain open follicles and an unfriendly environment that makes it difficult for mites to gain a foothold.
- Continue immune support at maintenance levels during this high-risk window.
- Closely examine the skin often for signs of suspicious symptoms. If you see symptoms reappear, get back on the full 6-step program pronto.
This is a process that takes time.
You have committed to a far safer approach than chemical options but the journey can ebb and flow depending on the conditions of the underlying causes and other life changes.
We’ll be here with you every step of the way. You can do this! Get in touch if you have questions or concerns.