Originally written by Kasie Maxwell in 2007; revised June 2013. Last updated May 2020.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The below remedies are FOR DOGS ONLY. Some of the below
protocols would be very dangerous for cats.
The below suggestions are useful for both Sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabei) and
Demodectic mange (AKA Demodex). It is important to be fastidious about
cleanliness when dealing with either issue. Washing the animal’s bedding, collars
and clothing, etc. will help to clear up the issue faster and, in the case of Sarcoptic
mange, limit the possibility of the mange spreading to other household members.
Demodex is not contagious and only effects canines. Sarcoptic Mange can be
contagious to susceptible humans, dogs and cats, though the infection will not
progress or sustain itself on humans and cats as Sarcoptes scabei must live on a
canine host in order to complete its lifecycle. Humans, dogs and cats with **healthy immune systems** should be able to resist infection, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and keep the environment and animals clean until the issue is resolved. Stress
is a big factor, too. Animals living in the same household may be experiencing the
same environmental or life stressors that caused the sick animal to develop mange,
and bringing a new animal into the household can be a stressful period for resident
I highly recommend consulting with a classical homeopath in either scenario.
I have treated Demodex mange many, many times in rescue dogs without ever
having to resort to using the chemical treatments. I have resolved both minor cases,
and severely neglected dogs with generalized demodex and deep, oozing staph
infections so bad that the dog could not even use her hind legs. If your dog has a
small area of mange, it should be easy to resolve with the following protocol…
1) DIET: Feed 100% carbohydrate/grain-free raw, whole food diet with the addition and inclusion of
a good, high quality fish-body/wild Salmon oil EFA and natural Vitamin E. Give 100 IU Vit E for every 1,000 mg of Salmon Oil. (we stopped recommending fish/salmon oil and vitamin E supplements in 2013) omega-3 rich whole foods. Start with sourcing meats/poultry/dairy/eggs that are truly pasture-raised, grass-FINISHED (not just grass-fed), regeneratively ranched, or biodynamic/holistically managed.
Importance of healthy fats and omega balanced ingredients: The focus of SFRAW has always been on sourcing meat/dairy raised using these methods, but you can also find your own local sources at the eatwild.com website here. Animals should be raised on a pasture-based system that focuses on developing the quality of the forage and the soil they are raised on. Being raised on natural open pasture changes the nutritional value of their fat/meat/bones/organs so that, ounce for ounce, the food you are feeding is more nutritious and healthful with a better omega/fatty acid ratio. This will eliminate or reduce the need to supplement with omega-3 oils. When animals are not raised indoors, but spend most or all of their lives outdoors, typically unconfined, with free daily access to wild, natural, open pastures, rich soil, clean natural water, and safe exposure to natural elements (sun, rain, etc) the quality of the food they produce is significantly more nutritious and healthier.
In addition, you still may choose to add extra supplemental forms of omega-3 rich foods to reduce inflammation in their body. Instead of using supplemental salmon/fish oils, seek out products we offer and carry at SFRAW (but I have provided links to other sources here for those not near to us) including the BEST source – wild salmon roe, healthy pasture-raised or wild fats, pasture-raised eggs, pasture-raised/grass-finished raw milk, MarinePhytoplankton or feeding low-contaminant, sustainable FROZEN raw seafood for up to 10% of the total diet. Options may include: whole sardines, anchovies, smelt, herring, salmon, trout, oysters, clams, some species of cod/halibut, saba mackerel. Be sure to read our blog post on how to feed seafood safely here.
If the animal is severely disabled/ill or new to a raw diet, add a high quality digestive enzyme and probiotic supplement. If they are too ill to tolerate a raw diet, then feed a home-prepared cooked diet using fresh foods until they can tolerate raw. As much as is possible, feed only pastured, organic, and grass-finished meats.
2) VACCINATIONS: Do not vaccinate an animal with mange – period. This is huge. Mange is almost always a direct result of vaccinations. Dogs with mange are expressing that their immune system has been insulted/damaged by vaccines, medications, and/or a poor diet. Dogs can be genetically predisposed to being especially sensitive to vaccines and mange is a common symptom of this, so you need to consider future vaccinations carefully. Discuss future vaccination decisions with your holistic vet. Non-vaccinated strays can develop mange due to living in an
immune damaging environment (starvation/inadequate diet, environmental stress,
living in filth, lack of security and kindness/love, etc.).
Do not give any chemical “preventative” medications; heartworm pills, flea/tick
preventatives, dips or sprays, etc. These poison insults make your pet’s immune
system weaker/strained so they are unable to mount a healthy immune response to
3) EXERCISE/LIFESTYLE: Plenty of daily outdoor exercise; for young dogs this
usually means 1-2 hour off-leash hikes, beach walks, and lots of fresh air. Do not
expose them to extreme temperatures, and only exercise them as much as they can
tolerate without being physically stressed – let them guide you as to how much they
can handle, never push them to do too much. In severely debilitated animals, you
will have to start with short, frequent walks at first. Try and walk them only in
natural areas, away from roads and pollution. Redwood forests (simply walking through a Redwood tree stand alters our microbiome to provide a better microbe balance!) and next to waterfalls, the ocean where there are waves, or just after/during a rainstorm (if not a polluted location; these elements create negative ions which is extremely beneficial for our immune systems and overall wellness) are the best places to go.
Negative ion tip plus added light therapy benefit for indoor locations/rooms where your animals spend time: we use salt lamps for the same ion benefits as well as providing great quality light for better, healthier frequencies of lighting indoors after dark. More here.
4) ENVIRONMENT: Clean all bedding in hot water every 3 days (use sheets or towels to cover their dog bed(s), furniture or crate pad to make this easier). Do not use dryer sheets or chemical laundry detergents; use a natural, unscented detergent. Do not smoke or use chemicals on or around these animals. Provide a clean, loving, peaceful, stress-free environment in which your dog can heal and become stronger. Limit exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), as much as possible. EMFs are produced by electric appliances such as televisions, microwaves, etc. Electromagnetic radiation from wireless devices can be harmful, too.
5) GROOMING: Give once a week baths with a very gentle, natural shampoo. We recommend using Neugier Pet Shampoo exclusively, which we sell at SFRAW. Indeed, Neugier is the one and only shampoo that we have *ever sold* with the exception of our own Uber Natural Shampoo, which is currently unavailable pending redevelopment & reformulation to be 100% coconut-free. Do not
use chemical or medicated shampoos, sprays or dips.
Make bath time fun, or at least not scary or stressful. Talk in soothing tones, move slowly, and handle your pet gently and respectfully to create a calming, “spa-like” experience rather than a scary torture treatment! Follow baths with plenty of warm clean towels, zooomies and a snooze in the sun or settled safely by the fireplace/wood stove, snuggles or play time and treats.
6) TOPICALS: My Rara Avis (now SFRAW brand) Mite-B-Gone oil is very useful for this issue. I have also provided a Lemon Skin Tonic recipe and how to prepare a Lavender EO oil blend for a topical application below.
If you follow the above protocol, your dog will get better. I have had full recoveries
happen in a matter of weeks, but most dogs take a few months. Basically you are
allowing for their immune system to recover and allowing for their skin flora to
rebalance, and this can take time. So long as it’s not getting worse, you can
continue home treatment. If it gets worse instead of better, consult with your
holistic vet for assistance.
Some dogs with minor cases will get better with zero treatment by the time they are
about 12-14 months old. The thought is that they simply “outgrow” the mange, but
my opinion is that it takes about this long to finally recover from the puppy vaccines
that put their body into this compromised/crisis state, and their immune systems are
also finally maturing by this age.
You can also add a few supplements to the above regime. Adding the supplements
alone won’t do it though – it’s the overall holistic treatment/husbandry that matters,
so you need to consider their lifestyle, diet, and overall husbandry first. Supplement
information can be found in the below email I wrote to a list member of one of the
lists I run. I hope this information is useful and helps you to help your dog!
Demodectic mites are normally present on all dogs raised by/with other dogs,
but is normally kept under control by a healthy immune system. It is not
contagious. Demodex only develops into a problem when the dog’s immune
system is depressed or compromised by the stress of being in a shelter environment, immune-harming medications, poor husbandry (food/environment), and/or vaccines. Certain breeds are more susceptible to
this condition – my opinion is that these breeds or individuals are more
susceptible to the damaging effects of vaccinations. Dogs that develop
manage should never vaccinated again, or should be vaccinated by the
minimum requirements dictated by your state’s laws.
Demodex is fairly common in young dogs/puppies under the age of 12
months. Demodex infection is common, because (at least in holistic circles) it
is considered to be one of the negative results of puppy vaccinations. Most
dogs will “outgrow” demodex by 12-14 months old on their own – when a
more mature immune system is developed and able to handle the imbalance,
without any assistance whatsoever. Usually, these are dogs who’s vital
force/immune systems are able to recover from the damage vaccinations
have done to their system.
Some dogs have a much harder time with these early assaults, and demodex
can develop into a generalized state where it covers the majority of their body
and can, rarely, become life-threatening. These dogs can still recover when
their systems are properly supported and they are given the chance – by not
further assaulting their system with medications and vaccinations. If you are
dealing with a more than mild case of demodex, you absolutely must consult
with a qualified homeopath. Find a list of homeopaths at the end of this
Feeding them wholesome, clean, fresh foods, living in a clean environment,
regular bathing, minimal stress, and daily access to fresh air, sunshine and
exercise is critical. Many, many dogs in rescue suffer from demodex and I
have treated many dogs without the use of chemical remedies. My opinion is
that the chemical medications further complicate the issue, mask the
symptoms, and further damage the immune system. Oftentimes, the
medications will appear to have worked, but this brief respite from the
disease only lasts for a short period and when the mange returns, it comes
back like gangbusters – or at least worse than the first time.
Don Hamilton and Richard Pitcairn’s books both have excellent sections about
mange that speaks about not only the how’s and whys, and why allopathic
care for this (esp. in young dogs) is more damaging than helpful in the long-run,
but also gives recommendations as to the treatment using safe, gentle
home remedies. I highly recommend you purchase one or both of these books
and read these sections. Their recommendations are similar to what I have
Supplements you can add to your pup’s diet to help counter the mite
overgrowth are as follows:
• Zinc, in the whole food form of either raw oysters, raw liver, soaked/sprouted raw organic tahini or ground pumpkin seeds or a zinc supplement (see how to supplement with zinc here but for dogs with immune dysfunction such as mange, use 10 to 30 milligrams/day)
• a whole food source of natural vitamin C with bioflavinoids (Acerola cherries are good Alive! brand or Health Force brand are both good) , 250-1000 mgs twice/day
• regularly add collagen-rich foods to the diet, serve bone-broth daily (especially pork broth), or a few teaspoons/scoop of a high quality collagen powder daily
You may also consider the following supplements that can help to support the immune system:
- Colostrum (ideally, raw fresh or frozen colostrum from local pasture-raised goats or cows sometimes available at SFRAW; we also sell and love Mattole Valley’s Bovine Colostrum or their Goat Milk Protein No. 0 as well as Ancestral Supplements Colostrum)
- Medicinal Mushrooms (we recommend, love and sell locally produced organic fresh mushrooms such as Maitake & Shitaki as well as powdered forms of certified organic 100% USA sourced blends including Mushroom Harvest’s 14 Mushroom Blend Powder, Laird Performance Mushroom Blend, Four Sigmatic’s 10 Mushroom Blend
- Thymus & Spleen (we sell raw/frozen bison thymus gland, when available and usually have raw fresh or frozen beef & pork spleen in stock; spleen is added to our SFRAW Grinds & Formulas, GreenTripe’s TOMB, and Marin Sun Farm’s Beef and Pork Patty Mixes. Alternatively, we love the ease of using the powdered capsules of Ancestral Supplements Thymus or Spleen and we sell and use these, too!)
- Probiotics that specifically support immune function by helping the body to create immune supportive antioxidants in the gut such as as MegaSporeBiotic in combination with regular consumption of our raw, fresh goat milk kefir
Topically, you can rub fresh, organic lemon juice on the affected area every day or make a tea infusion of thinly sliced lemons (3 lemons to a quart of boiling water) – let steep overnight, strain and store in the fridge. Pour
or spray this ‘lemon tea’ on the dog’s bald/patchy areas 2x/day. Renowned herbalist Juliette de Bairacli-Levy provided the original recipe and application suggestions for this infusion in her incredible book, The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat.
Alternatively, you could add a high quality organic lavender essential oil (10-15 drops) in a base of almond oil or jojoba oil (1/2 oz.) and apply this EO formula to the affected areas. Use as many drops of the oil necessary to
cover the areas of skin where the hair is thinning or bald; apply twice a day to these areas.
At only a few months old, the last thing you want to do is suppress minor symptoms such as these and further compromise your puppy’s immune system. He/she is just a pup! The best thing you can do is counter their current state of low-resistance/immunity with care that will further strengthen their immunity and lay the foundation for a healthy, capable immune system that can swiftly handle something as minor as demodex, and also manage future symptoms that might be more complicated and serious as he/she grows into adulthood.
Consulting with a good homeopath will help your dog tremendously in this situation.
Please note: Rara Avis/SFRAW products and information have not been evaluated or
approved by the FDA or any other governmental agency. Our products are not meant
to diagnose disease or replace licensed veterinary care. Our products are not
pharmaceuticals or drugs intended to treat, prevent, mitigate or cure disease. The
information contained on this site is general in nature. We do not warrant and shall
have no liability for information provided in this site.
If you suspect an animal is ill, please consult with a holistic veterinarian. To find a
holistic veterinarian in your area, search the referral listings on one of these valuable
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture
The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy
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