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How can demodex succesfully treated?

Please realize, I'm NOT a vet. I simply have a dog with a very chronic debilitating case. I've been-there-done-it-got-the-t-shirt-and-wore-it-out LONG ago!!!

BUT - the more I had to "dip" him, the more I began to see a connection between his breakouts and "life", the more adamant I became to FIND A WAY to help PREVENT the bad, bad breakouts!!! So, I began to read everything I could get my hands on and talk to 'experts.'

Another thing I need to make clear before I even begin this. Demodex is usually not a short-duration thing - even when you're successful and the dog does build an immunity, you have to be careful for a long, long time. You will probably ALWAYS need to be cognizant that if the immunity gets low and stress gets high, there is a chance that it could be problematic again. Like I said before - it IS a hassle! But .. it IS do-able as well!


Treatment is sort of in two categories. Stuff to do NOW to get rid of the "right now" problem - he's broken out, scratching and miserable!!!. But then, also NOW, you must start being pro-active so that you aren't "wasting your time" just getting rid of THIS crop of problems!.

"Right Now Treatment"

  1. Hopefully your vet has prescribed some kind of dip (read my section on "dipping" - YOU DO IT - do not have someone else dip your dog!!! Good reasons for that!)
  2. Ask how much diphenhydramine you can give (that's the generic name of good old "Benedryl" to cool off the itchy skin)/. It's over-the-counter. Both the elixir (for small puppy doses or to use topically!) and the capsules are helpful!
  3. Next, ask him for a good benzoyl peroxide shampoo (often prescription). Used before dipping AND in between times. This opens the pores and "flushes" them out. I've seen it give Muffin tremendous relief on a regular basis. I don't know of anything "over the counter" or I'd be using it! (Let me know if you find something!!!)

"Pro Active Treatment"

Killing the Mites
  • Amitraz Collars. I've found an amitraz "tick" collar helps (not cures)! It simply lessens the number of mites the dog has to deal with and it keeps down pustules forming around the face, ears, head and neck! It's a constant small dose of the same ingredient that's in the amitraz dip.
Dealing with the Itchies
  • An antihistamine such as Diphenhydramine (brand name Benedryl). During "bad times" Muffin takes 2 caps twice a day, and when it's doing "well" he takes 1 cap once or twice a day (and YEP . you guessed it! He sleeps A LOT! but he's sane and so are we!!!). I just can NOT let him itch like that!
  • Ointments/sprays.While he was so terribly raw and sore, I used (at the vet's ok) a corticosteroid cream (over the counter is way strong enough!) on the worst places just plain to heal it. Covering it actually makes it up to 10 times more effective, but this IS a steroid and it goes right into their system, so it's NOT a good choice for "long term". In fact, there's one brand that makes a spray (from memory I think it's Cortaid Spray) which is nice because it doesn't matt fur, but it's also gonna sting.

Boosting the Immune System

Put the animal IMMEDIATELY on supplements and vitamins to boost the immune system. This doesn't 'cure' -- but while you're dipping the animal -- this hopefully begins to boost the immune system so by the time you get the instant case fought the animal can then somehow begin to "maintain".

I've got Muffin on daily doses of : -

  • Echinacea (fights infection) (2 - 4 350 mg. caps/day)
  • Colostrum (this is the 'essence' of bovine mother's milk to boost immunity). Start very slowly with this - it is a milk product and some dogs could be intolerant. Build gradually to human daily dose. (It varies with the one you use.)
  • Chelated Zinc (as in humans -- immune deficient often is zinc deficient - ask your vet!!) - about 15-30 mg./day.
  • MSM (this is a biological sulphur -- the closest thing you can come to anything that will actually build a "cure" from within -- it's used for "skin conditions" holistically for both humans and animals). 1000 mg/day (ask your vet)
  • Vitamins C, A and E (anti-oxidants -- fight infection and heal skin)*
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements.*

*Now the Vitamins C,A, and E and Omega Oil --- those CAN come in some 'more expensive dogs foods' -- my vet wanted Muffin on them, so we changed him to a "fancy" food that includes them, specifically so we didn't have to do additional "pills." However, these oils particularly will help the skin - the shampoos and dips DO dry the skin, so the oils that I give Muffin are more necessary than you might think and he's got a GORGEOUS coat now!).

I've used the Echinacea and Colostrum the longest and have seen great results. Granted, on a monthly basis the Colostrum and MSM are the two "expensive" ones - but do what you can steadily and then "add" to it.

IMPORTANT: You've gotta, gotta understand -- ANY kind of herbals or supplements work on a CELLULAR level. They are NOT a "quick fix". THIS WILL TAKE 6 WEEKS TO 2 MONTHS BEFORE YOU WILL EVEN BEGIN TO SEE ANY SORT OF PERMANENT IMPROVMENT. What you begin -STAY WITH IT. You may want to ADD to it, but don't switch around - it takes many, many months to build this - 2 months is ONLY to even BEGIN seeing results..

Preventing them from scratching and biting.

Maxine - DON'T SCRATCH, ba-by!!!

You hear that one ALL the time here! Scratching becomes an instant 'nervous habit' The itch makes them nervous and the more they scratch the more they itch and it's something TO DO (particularly when your paw is right there near your mouth anyway!!!).

Physically STOP them. I've been known to do all sorts of things from wrapping him up in towels like a doggie mummy, to putting socks on his paws/wrapping them in gauze (and socks!!) In fact, even if the paws aren't broken out - putting socks on prevents those toenails from wrecking havoc on the rest of him. But be careful .. then it becomes difficult to walk and you don't want him hurting himself, so watch them!!!

Should I admit about the T-Shirts Muffin has worn? Or how I've sewn socks TO T-shirts to keep them both on??? No .. I won't even go there, but keeping them from re-opening it is a challenge. Step by step . inch by inch - it's a battle! But it IS win-able!!!


While you're battling demodex, keep the animal shorn as closely as possible. I know, for those of you with long-haired dogs this is BAD news. But, if you can't get TO the skin with the dip, you won't be able to kill the mites. If you just try to "spot" treat - it's pointless - it will only break out somewhere else.

We've discovered with Muffin - we need to keep him shaved (yes - particularly the ears!!!) - but not OVER close (don't let them "burn" the skin with the razor! -- that CREATES more problems!).

Look for a groomer you're totally comfortable with. Talk to them and make sure they understand your whole point is to get CLOSE to the skin to treat it with medicine, but not close enough to "burn" the skin. Point out the sore bits!

Nails: One of the 'side effects' of demodex is areas of thickened skin, but don't kid yourself - there's LOTS of feeling -- they can get protective of it cos there's so much pain there!. In fact, Muffin has gotten really bad about getting his nails done.. He's convinced the doggie nail clipper is an ancient instrument of torture designed to maim!!!. I've recently begun using a Dremel tool to carefully "sand" his nails, rather than clipping them. We do one paw at a time (the vibration is tickley) but it works!!! 

How To Give Them All Those Pills:

Actually, with a bit of training they think they're treats!

Either roll the pills in a bit of margarine (dogs don't get cholesterol problems folks!) or you can make a jar of chopped garlic and oil to dip them in (catching up a bit of garlic in your fingers).

To start - offer just a bit of margarine or garlic/oil on your finger and let them lap it off. Yum, Yum!!! (We won't even mention the time Foxy stole a whole tub of margerine and single-pawedly finished it off by himself when he was just liddle!!!)

Dunk the pills in and then pick up a slippery pill (or lump of pills) in your fingers and hold it just ABOVE their nose - so they have to lift their heads/neck straight up to sniff - and they'll lick it right out of your fingers.

Mine think this is such a lark they will come RUNNING when you shake a bottle!!! You might also couple this with something truly yummy like garlic/yeast tablets - they're super good for them and they're convinced they are MEGA treats!!!


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