Most dogs acquire demodex mites from their mothers shortly after birth.
Demodectic mange is mild to severe hair loss in dogs caused by the demodex mite. According to Pet Education, most dogs carry demodex, a microscopic, alligator-shaped mite that lives in the hair follicles. Under normal circumstances, dogs tolerate the presence of demodex mites. If the dog’s immune system is weak, however, the mites grow out of control. A natural diet can help boost your dog’s immune system and prevent or fight mange.
Identification of Demodectic Mange
Demodectic mange occurs most often in puppies, whose immune systems are underdeveloped. Look for thinning of the fur on the tips of the ears and around the eyes or muzzle, says veterinarian Dr. Eric Barchas. You may find small bald patches on your dog’s body. In more severe cases, you’ll see large patches of missing fur. The dog’s skin may become raw and red with secondary infections.
How a Natural Diet Can Help
Switching to a natural diet eliminates preservatives and chemicals found in many low-quality commercial foods, which in turn eases the burden on your dog’s immune system, says Nathan B. Childs, author of “Shaping the Wolf Within Your Dog.” A natural diet improves your dog’s immune system by limiting the systemic stress caused by filler ingredients and offering support at a cellular level.
Types of Natural Diet
There are several ways to offer your dog a natural diet that can help her fight demodectic mange. Holistic and natural commercial dog food brands are a convenient option. Read the label to make sure that meat, not grain or meat byproducts, is the first ingredient. Making your own dog food allows you to control the quality and freshness of ingredients, says Donna Twichell Roberts, author of “The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs.” Veterinary surgeon Dr. Tom Lonsdale advocates a diet of raw meat, organs and bones to ensure your dog’s skin and hair health.
Enhance your dog’s natural diet by including nutritional supplements that boost the immune system. Dr. Jean C. Hofve, DVM, recommends omega-3 fatty acids, especially those found in fish oil; probiotics like those found in natural yogurt; and antioxidant vitamins C and E. Dr. Andrew Weil, natural-health advocate and author of “Eating Well for Optimum Health,” says that fish oil is an excellent supplement for dogs who suffer from skin inflammation, one of the symptoms of demodectic mange. Give 1,500 mg per day for dogs weighing 20 pounds or more.
While raw-food advocates have shown that feeding a dog small raw bones is safe and necessary in the context of a raw diet, feeding larger bones, like the leg bones of cows or pigs, may cause tooth damage or digestive issues. Never feed a dog cooked bones; they can splinter inside your dog’s throat or digestive tract and cause life-threatening damage. According to Dr. Richard Pitcairn, D.V.M., Ph.D., fish, pork and rabbit should never be served raw to your dog because of the parasites that live in these meats.