Since conventional treatments for demodectic mange usually involve dips, shampoos and lotions that contain benzoyl peroxide, amitraz and ivermectin, many pet owners instead choose a holistic treatment for demodectic mange. These harsh chemicals carry their own set of side effects that may do more harm than good to the animal’s already weakened immune system. Knowing this, it is not difficult to comprehend why many pet owners choose holistic treatments over conventional ones.
Demodectic mange is not contagious, nor is it caused by environmental contamination or poor hygiene. The demodectic mites that cause demodectic mange actually reside quite peacefully in an animal’s hair follicles as part of the natural order of things provided the animal’s systems are healthy and in balance. Mites pass from mother animal to her offspring during the babies’ first few weeks of life and generally reside there undetected unless conditions such as malnutrition, a compromised immune system or extreme stress throw the body off balance. Weakened immune systems encourage uncontrolled mite population growth.
Since demodectic mites live in hair follicles, a mite population explosion first affects skin and hair. Hair loss usually develops around the eyes and muzzle, followed by crusty, red skin that may itch, crack and ooze. In severe cases of demodectic mange, hair loss spreads, lymph nodes swell, infections develop and the skin becomes painfully inflamed. Demodectic manage can be fatal if left untreated.
A veterinarian will take a skin scraping or perform a biopsy in order to definitively confirm the presence of demodectic mange. He will most likely also test for such immuno-suppressant diseases as Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, cancer and heartworm disease in canine cases and feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus in feline cases as the root cause for the mite infestation.
Garlic and Echinacea Purpurea
Garlic oil is one of the most effective antimicrobial remedies against mites, as its components naturally repel bacteria, viruses and alimentary parasites. When blended with Echinacea purpurea, which also protects against fungal, bacterial and viral infections, garlic oil protects animals from infection in the event an infestation does occur. Echinacea purpurea is also well known for its immunity-boosting properties. Some proponents of this treatment method advise owners to apply garlic oil only once daily, as some animals may be sensitive.
Topical neem oil kills demodectic mites on contact. The addition of an oral neem remedy corrects the affected animal’s overall predisposition to mange. You may add a few drops of lavender oil to neem oil if the smell is overpowering.
Neem is also an effective fungicide, insecticide and insect repellent. It may be added to a chemical-free shampoo to create a holistic anti-mange shampoo treatment or mixed with water and a few drops of soap or shampoo for an anti-mange rinse. Either shampoo or rinse should be applied twice weekly.
Some animals may be sensitive to neem oil, so test a small area on the animal’s body before applying a full shampoo or rinse treatment.
Niaoli has natural antiseptic properties that soothe the skin, support the healing process and stimulate tissue reproduction after a mange infestation. Naoli essential oil is derived from a variety of evergreen tree characterized by pointed leaves and spiky long, yellow flowers. It can be applied as part of a mange repellent shampoo mixture, but only on dogs. Check with your veterinarian before administering to cats.