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Demodex – Your 6 Step Guide To Beating It
A holistic attack is the secret.
Demodex (also called Demodicosis or Demodectic mange) is not a disease that randomly attacked your dog, nor did your dog catch it somewhere.
Certain underlying health problems, mostly immune related, allow a population explosion of a few Demodectic mites that by nature were already there. They don’t eat your dog but they and their toxins start a cascade of related problems.
It’s a complicated set of problems that can’t be cured just by just killing the mites. The over-population of mites clearly must reduced — but what about the things that started it all? Do we just ignore them? And what happens if we do? There is no one-hit-wonder cure. We have to work on the whole dog with safe tools that work together.
This is the basic holistic program we’ve used to help thousands of dogs and even save some “incurables” from being put down. All of these steps are essential. 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 every Mite Avenge treatment to flush the skin. Used properly, it will also flush out some mites as it helps improve an unhealthy skin environment.
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.
Demodex mites are coated in thick sticky sebum and further protect themselves by creating barriers out of detritus, and oils that oxidize into brick-like blockages. Benzoyl peroxide shampoo is the only thing known to cut through the gunk.
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 the optimal treatment.
Cease treatment four (4) weeks 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.
Demodex repopulate quickly so do not cease treatment prematurely. Infrequent or inconsistent treatment encourages mite migration, reverses the progress made clearing out follicles, slows recovery by killing fewer mites, and allows more eggs to be laid.
3. Repair and restore immune health.
Behind every case of Demodectic mange is:
• A naturally weak or compromised immune system
• The accompanying yeast issues
Your dog may not show outward symptoms, but make no mistake, 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.
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 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. Three out of four of those are yeasts (the sugar becomes yeast). We can’t do anything about cellular proteins but we must reduce your dog’s yeast.
Candida is running amok internally and Malassezia on the skin is making things much harder for your dog. Both 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.
- Sterilize the skin daily diluted povidone iodine (twice daily when severe symptoms are present). Here’s how. Be sure to dunk those paws and wipe out the ears outside and inside (as far as a large cotton ball will go).
- The other half of the battle is fought internally. Digestive tract restoration, anti-fungal supplements, and foods are important yeast defeaters that will be your dog’s heroes. Wondering how to go about controlling yeast internally? Remember that Immune Function section we mentioned in step 3? There’s a page about yeast here that will be your hero.
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. You must provide extra support to the four areas of the immune system that most affect Demodex.
5. Fix the diet.
Don’t feed the disease. Dog food is famous for fillers, additives, high carbohydrate and junky ingredients. These are Robin Hood substances that steal from your dog and give to the mites.
Evict wheat, corn, and other grains from your pet’s diet. Ban sugar under any alias 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, 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. If so, you want to hit up DogFoodAdvisor.com.
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 trash an immune system badly enough for mange to develop in the first place 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 and so on. Avoid such stressful situations and medical procedures whenever 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.
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.
Daily brushing requires 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 after treatment is complete!
The riskiest periods for Demodex to rebound are 6-12 months after recovery for an adult dogs and until a puppy reaches 3 years of age.
- 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.
It’s important to accept that 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.
In addition to this primer, our blog has in-depth articles on the disease’s underlying causes, what to expect when treating mange, immune support, Frito feet and many other great topics.
And that’s it, good luck! You can do this. We’ll be here with you every step of the way.