by Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason


Photo by M.Campos Pereira

Photo by M.Campos Pereira

There are about 100 different Demodex species that affect all kinds of mammals. Most of them are species-specific, i.e. they infest only one or a few closely related species. Demodex canis which we will be talking about here, infests dogs.

Demodectic mange, is also called “demodicosis” or red mange and is actually a microscopic mite of the Demodex genus. Three species of Demodex mites have been identified in dogs: Demodex canis, Demodex gatoi, and Demodex injai. The most common mite of demodectic mange is Demodex canis.

In actuality, most healthy dogs actually have a natural microscopic mite population in small numbers, deep within the hair follicles already in residence. These mites are just a normal part of the flora of the skin and cause no clinical problems, the healthy dog’s immune system keeps them in balance very nicely.

Demodex mites feed on cellular proteins, systemic yeast, dietary yeast and/or sugar in the system.

When the immune system is not mature yet (very young puppies)and/or it is suppressed, it may not be able to keep the mites under control. They begin multiplying out of control and attacking the dog. Dogs infected with demodectic mange are immunodeficient. In other words, they are not able to naturally fight off or keep under control the mites as a healthy dog would due to a compromised immune system.

Most veterinarians do not understand what genetic means. Demodex is NOT in a pet’s genetic make-up.

The immune system is a living thing that can be boosted or improved or suppressed and compromised. Most veterinarians do not understand the life of a Demodex mite and how the body can be helped to keep the mites in a good balance on it’s own, without toxins taken internally and applied externally(which by the way, have long-lasting, detrimental effects).

Nutrition is the foundation of health

Veterinarians are not taught nutrition for more than a couple of months at best in school and they are taught by – get ready for this; a big pet food company. So, veterinarians simply do not have enough canine nutritional knowledge to understand the role that diet has on the immune system and therefore the demodectic mite.

Generations of dogs being fed kibble actually wears down the immune system of each successive generation until today you hear about demodectic puppies all the time.

What is happening is that we have had at least hundreds of generations of dogs in existence that have been born to over vaccinated and kibble fed sires and dams- still being over vaccinated and fed kibble. Over so many generations, the very DNA becomes damaged and the immune system of each successive generation weaker and weaker until today you hear about demodectic puppies all the time. Science has found and proven that you can take a dam who has produced an entire litter of demodectic pups; put her on a grain and vegetable free, raw diet with some supplementation for a year, breed her again and she will not produce any demodex in the subsequent litter!

Signs of this dis-ease appear only when mites reproduce unchecked and occur in unnaturally high numbers. Outbreaks are seen around the eyes, lips and/or lower limbs when the numbers of these mites increase due to the over-worked or stressed immune system no longer able to keep things balanced.

Because the dog’s immune system does not fully mature until 12-18 months of age, a puppy with demodectic mange that has not had it’s immune system kept in good, strong condition due to poor nutrition, vaccinations, being weaned too soon, etc., may have relapses until the immune system is mature. Demodectic mange in dogs over 2 years of age is usually classified as adult-onset, and occurs secondary to an underlying cause stemming from a compromised immune system.

Dogs with immune suppression due to illnesses like hypothyroid disease, and Cushing’s disease, are also candidates for demodectic mange. Demodectic mange can also occur in very old dogs because the function of the immune system often declines with age due to poor nutrition and chemical bombardment through out its life time.

A lot of Veterinarians in conventional veterinary medicine still use a toxic chemical called Amitraz or Ivermectin to kill the mites.

These products can reduce the function of the hypothalamus, which helps regulate the body’s metabolism by controlling hormone release in the body.

In animal studies, amitraz caused episodes of increased aggression, as well as some central nervous system depression. Many Vets use Ivermecten for generalized cases of mange.

There has been quite a bit written about Ivermectin being a trigger for immune-mediated diseases. Ivermectin should never be used in combination with Amitraz, whether the dip or the Amitraz tick prevention collars. These medicines are all members of the monoamine oxidase inhibitor group; when they are used together their effects combine together creating sedation and adverse neurologic effects. In reality these chemicals/products only serve to keep the immune system in a weakened condition.

Conventional treatments will often appear to work for a time however, at what expense to your dog’s health? Conventional treatments only address and suppress the symptoms and do not actually cure or take care of the source of the symptoms – the cause! Since conventional veterinary medicine relies heavily on a highly toxic method of treatment, and suppressed immune function is the cause of demodectic outbreaks, please consider a safe and natural alternative.

Using a combination of a raw, species appropriate diet and naturally sourced supplements (not processed, synthetically based) you can support the immune system while it strengthens and gets things balanced and back under control.

Immune suppressed dogs especially require a * raw meat, organ and bone based diet so that the digestive system and of course the immune system (70% – 80% of the immune system is housed in the digestive tract) is not further stressed.
* dogs are carnivores and such require raw meat,bones and organs to thrive

Remember, mites feed on the yeast living in the body, and systemic yeast feed on nutritional yeast and sugars (carbohydrates). If you break the cycle, you weaken or starve the systemic yeast and the mites are not able to colonize in the pores. This is the reason for a no grain diet (NO WHEAT, OATS, CORN, BARLEY, MILLET OR YEAST OF ANY KIND which includes brewers or nutritional yeast) with only meat, bones and organs (if you currently feed any vegetables or fruits, you will want to stop feeding them all together if you are serious about bringing balance to an out of control population of demodex) — in other words, only foods that do not readily turn to sugar within the system. Click HERE to read about how to prevent yeast growth in your dogs.

Antioxidants as these are crucial at this time for the immune system.

Proanthocyanidins appear to potentiate the immune system via enhancement of T-lymphocyte activity and modulation of neutrophil and macrophage responses). Antioxidants also decrease various chemicals (histamine, interleukin, tumor necrosis factor) that cause cell damage. Because antioxidants minimize damage to cells, they are useful whenever disease is present and immune support is needed.

Some good antioxidant sources are:
Medicinal Mushrooms
Selenium (as found in organ meats)
Zinc (as found in raw lamb)
Omega 3s as found in Fish Oil  (Dr. Jeannie recommends Wild Salmon Oil) or SeaLogix Omega 3 Fish Oil.

Chinese Wolf Berry, also known as Goji berry, according to an independent laboratory test is known have the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) rating. This test was developed by USDA researchers at Tufts University.  NingXia Red Juice is the highest antioxidant product on the market.  ” While Noni juice ranks 1,506 on the ORAC scale, NingXia Red Juice sports a record-high 4,214 antioxidant level.”

Therapeutic grade essential oils and/or medicinal mushrooms are highly recommended to boost the immune system and fight infections.

The role of the intestinal tract in nutrient absorption is well recognized. However, the micro-flora that naturally inhabit the intestinal tract and their vital role in maintaining normal functioning of the gut and immune system are often overlooked. The intestinal tract and its flora (good bacteria)is most often the first line of defense for the body and must be in good balance and working order for the animal to maintain a healthy immune response.

Enzymes are the foundation of energy and the life force in all living things. They are responsible for building, detoxifying, and healing the body. They are also the force that allows your body to digest and absorb food. Enzymes also regulate tens of thousands of other biochemical functions that take place in the body every day. Even thinking involves “enzymes”. Without enzymes, seeds would not sprout, fruit would not ripen, leaves would not change color, and life would not exist.

Science has now confirmed (LEL) Low Enzyme Levels as the world’s #1 killer, based on the late Dr. Edward Howell’s 40-year research covering more than 700 worldwide studies.


Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) One of the most antiseptic essential oils. Eugenol, its principal constituent, is used synthetically in the dental industry for the numbing of gums. But here, it is in its natural form. Clove is the highest-scoring single ingredient ever tested for its antioxidant capacity on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale developed at Tufts University.

Cistus (Cistus ladanifer) Antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antihemorrhagic, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, supports sympathetic nervous system, immune stimulant, and tonic.

Mountain Savory (Satureja montana) Antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, ant-iparasitic, antiviral, immune stimulant and general tonic for the body – a natural immune system booster.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus or Andropogon Citratus) Anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antiseptic, antidepressant and more.

CAUTION: I only personally use and recommend Young Living Essential Oils – they are the only ones on the market that have been tested and proven to be therapeutic grade and safe enough to be taken internally or “neat” topically.  There are no other essential oils that can or do state this on their labels.

Along with a raw meat, organs and bone diet with naturally sourced supplements, it is very important that the dog/puppy is able to avoid stress and get plenty of rest but still some good daily exercise. Time outside in the sunshine and fresh air is very therapeutic.

Certain therapeutic grade essential oils are also wonderful for easing stress and relaxing the puppy. 🙂

Consider the degree of sensitivity of the open sores. If your dog is very sore and sensitive, you can diffuse some Essential Oils ( Caution use ONLY pure, therapeutic grade essential oils such as Young Living Essential Oil – Lavender, Peace & Calming, etc.) before you use any of the topical solutions.

Often you will see lemon juice or apple cider vinegar recommended to be applied to the skin – this can be VERY painful with open sores. Young Living essential oils and oil blends will actually take the edge off of the pain and make the dog more relaxed and comfortable. Pain adds stress and stress should be avoided. You should experiment to find the most effective solution with the least discomfort to the puppy. Start carefully with a dilution of therapeutic grade essential oils known to relieve pain and soothe the skin to see how much your pup can tolerate.

NOTE: If you have never used natural modalities with your pet before, or your pet has been vaccinated and/or is on a kibble or canned food diet, you may want to consider having a consultation and work to heal your dog under the supervision of a veterinary naturopath or true holistic veterinarian.

REMEMBER: NO DRUGS. NO CHEMICALS. NO DIPS. NO VACCINATIONS. NO GRAINS, POTATOES, VEGETABLES, SUGARS OR YEASTS.. Any of these will further damage the already weak immune system.

Copyright 2003 – 2015 This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole (Wholistic) Dog. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.


Important Disclaimer:
I have provided these articles/information as a source of reference and education only. I cannot be held responsible for misadventure from the misuse of the products featured or any therapeutic method mentioned within this Website. If there is any doubt regarding any healing modality or products mentioned, then please acquire a consult or seek out a qualified natural animal health practitioner.

Canine Health Foundation

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: