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Supporting the Immune System To Treat Demodectic Mange in Pets
I was recently asked the following question by a reader of my weekly newspaper column. It seems that the reader has a dog with demodectic mange and wanted to know which supplements she could use to boost the petís immune system while she undergoes the dipping regimen recommended by her veterinarian.
The successful treatment of every disease requires a fully functioning immune system. Many diseases, such as demodectic mange mentioned by the reader, occur because the immune system is not doing its job. As a holistic veterinarian, my job is to heal the patient rather than simply treat the disease. Immune system support is an important part of the therapy I prescribe for my patients. Since my practice is integrative, this support goes hand in hand whenever traditional medications are prescribed, as in the case of the reader’s dog with demodectic mange.
A Look at Your Pet’s Immune System
The immune system acts as a surveillance system, fighting off infections (bacteria, viruses, parasites,) and keeping your pet healthy. While every event that happens in the immune system can be quite complicated to consider, the basics of the immune system are simple to understand. There are 2 parts of the immune system: white blood cells, which kill infectious organisms directly, and antibodies, which are formed after exposure to foreign invaders. In the case of the reader’s dog with demodectic mange, her pet’s immune system was not functioning properly. All dogs have microscopic mange mites living within their hair follicles. In most pets, these mites exist without any signs of disease. However, when the immune system doesn’t do its job properly, the mites can multiply, cause an infection, and the disease called demodectic mange results. Because mange is a disease caused by a faulty immune system, supporting the temporarily defective immune system is important in helping cure the pet of the disease.
How to Strengthen the Immune System
There are various approaches to stimulating the immune system to help the pet with mange. Acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs, and antioxidants can all be used as immune system boosters. No one choice is best; each doctor has his or her own favorite approach. Some useful supplements to consider include Vim & Vigor by Pet Togethers and Arabinogalactan Powder and Vetri-DMG by VetriScience.
What About Dips?
Mitaban is the recommended dip for treating demodectic mange in dogs. When used as prescribed, I have found it to be very safe. Rarely, I have seen dogs itch more for a few days following the dip, and occasionally a pet is a bit sedate for 2-3 days after the dip. By decreasing the dose of the dip or increasing the dipping interval (every 2 weeks rather than every week,) the side effects did not continue.
While I recommend dipping for most pets to give the best chance for cure, remember that simply dipping does not address the root cause (poor immune system) of the disorder. Therefore, whenever dipping is used I always include immune system support as well.
Finally, keep in mind that dipping may not be needed for every pet with mange if proper immune support is provided. For pets with localized disease, or very mild generalized disease, waiting on the dips while giving the immune system a chance to respond to the prescribed supplements is acceptable.
Solving the Problem Step by Step
Here are some general ideas to help the pet with demodectic mange, followed by my specific recommendations for the owner who sought my advice.
- Feed a natural diet, free of chemicals and by-products to minimize further damage to the immune system and improve the health of the pet.
- Vaccinate only as needed based upon blood titer testing. Do not vaccinate during the course of the disease, as this further stresses the immune system.
- Add immune-strengthening supplements to decrease damage to the immune system from the mites and to decrease the number of dips needed.
- Treat any other diseases that are present (infection, etc.) so that the immune system can devote itself 100% to treating the mange.
- Dip as needed.
In the case of the reader’s dog, I recommended her to continue dipping the dog which allows a quick kill of the mange mites. Vim & Vigor and Arabinogalactan Powder and Vetri-DMG by VetriScience were prescribed to boost the immune system, which maximized the killing of the toxic demodectic mange mites and also minimized the number of dips needed in treating the dog. This integrative approach saved the pet owner the costs of additional dippings, minimized the toxicity of the dippings, and allowed her pet’s immune system to function to capacity, killing the mites and restoring health.
Demodectic mange can be safely and effectively treated in most dogs. The integrative approach helps correct the immune system deficiency that allowed the mange to develop. By using the approach outlined in this article, you can work with your veterinarian to effectively treat your pet, improve its health, and minimize side effects.
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