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Home Remedies for Dog Mange + Other OTC Treatments

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Dog Health By Ben Team 15 min read June 9, 2021 13 Comments

Dog Mange Treatments
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Mange is a very troubling health problem that can make your dog miserable.

It not only causes some of the most intense itchiness imaginable, but it can also lead to secondary skin infections and other problems.

In fact, if you don’t address the issue promptly, you could wind up suffering from the arthropods who cause mange yourself.

Fortunately, there are a number of mange treatments available that’ll put an end to the problem and help your pup feel better. Some of these treatments will require you to visit your vet, but there are also a few over-the-counter products and home remedies you can try.

We’ll explain the basics of mange, outline the general treatment strategy, and share some of the best treatments and remedies below.

What Is Dog Mange?

Mange is a disease caused by microscopic mites living on your dog’s skin. There are a few different types of mange, and we’ll discuss each below.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange is an irritating skin condition caused by mites of the genus Demodex.

Most dogs have Demodex mites living on their skin (they actually inhabit the hair follicles of your dog’s skin), and they usually don’t cause any problems. Problems occur when sick, old, or very young dogs are not able to mount a sufficient immune response to the tiny bugs, which allows their population to explode.

Demodex mites typically cause problems for young puppies, who usually contract them from their mother. Demodectic mange can occur in small, localized areas — often around the eyes and paws — or it can affect most of your dog’s body. 

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange (which is also called scabies) is caused by sarcoptic mites. Sarcoptic mange mites are not normal parts of your dog’s skin fauna, so when they are present, they typically cause problems. Unlike Demodex mites, which live in the hair follicles, sarcoptic mites burrow into your dog’s skin.

Sarcoptic mites are highly contagious, and they may infect any warm-blooded critter – even healthy adults. Sarcoptic mange mites may cause localized problems (most commonly on the ear flaps, elbows, or belly), but they can quickly colonize your dog’s entire body.

Cheyletiella Mange

There is one other type of mite that can cause mange-like problems for dogs. Known as Cheyletiella yasguri, this mite causes a condition known as Cheyletiellosis or “walking dandruff.”

This condition rarely causes the intense itching that other types of mange do, and the mites are often easy to eradicate with over-the-counter, topical flea treatments.

Accordingly, we’ll primarily be focusing on sarcoptic and demodectic mange below.

Symptoms of Dog Mange

Both sarcoptic and demodectic mange typically present similar symptoms. Some of the most common include:

  • Hair loss
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Scaly or scabby skin

Sarcoptic mite infestations often cause intense itchiness too, although this isn’t common with demodectic mite infestations.

Mites typically prefer to feed on areas of your dog’s body that have relatively little hair, such as the elbows, armpits, and abdomen. The ear margins are also one of the most common sites that owners notice symptoms of mange – particularly in the case of sarcoptic mites.

Potential Complications of Mange

There are a few complications that mange can cause if it isn’t treated promptly. We’ll discuss two of the most notable complications below.

Bacterial and Fungal Infections

The intense itching that accompanies mange will cause most dogs to scratch incessantly. This can irritate your dog’s skin and allow bacterial and fungal infections to occur, which will complicate the treatment process.

In a worst-case scenario, your dog may need antibiotics or antifungal medications to eliminate these types of infections.

Zoonotic Potential

While Demodex mites can be transmitted to people, they won’t cause you any health problems. You won’t even know they’re there, and you probably already have them on your body (enjoy that nightmare fuel).

But sarcoptic mange mites can be transmitted to people, where they’ll typically cause pretty significant issues. Sarcoptic mange mites cause the same kinds of problems in people – most notably intense itchiness – that they do in dogs.

Your doctor can prescribe medicines to help eliminate the bugs from your skin, but it’s better to simply treat your dog promptly before the mites can colonize the human members of the household.

The Best Course of Action For Mange? Visit Your Vet

The best thing to do if you suspect your dog is suffering from mange is to pick up your pooch and head over to the vet’s office.

For starters, your vet may be able to verify that the problem is, in fact, mange (several other skin ailments can cause very similar symptoms). In some cases, a physical examination may be all that’s required for your vet to be confident in a diagnosis of mange, but skin scrapings or hair plucks (in the case of demodex mites) can also be collected to provide further evidence.

Then, assuming that mange is the problem, your vet can prescribe medications that will quickly and easily eliminate the problem.

In fact, several medications can be used to eliminate mange. Some of the most common include:

  • Amitraz
  • Imidocloprid
  • Slamectin
  • Sarolaner
  • Fluralaner
  • Alfoxolaner

If none of those prove effective, your vet may recommend ivermectin injections or an ivermectin-based flea treatment (although ivermectin isn’t safe for use in collies and some other herding breeds).

Milbemycin may also be prescribed in some cases, although this represents “off-label” use. 

In addition to providing you with the best available treatments for mange, your vet can treat any bacterial or fungal infections that result from the mite infestation.

Over-the-Counter Mange Treatments

If you are unable to obtain a mange medication or shampoo from your vet, you may want to consider purchasing an over-the-counter mange treatment for your pet.

Most such products contain ingredients like coal tar or sulfur, which often help to kill the mites living on your dog’s skin and resolve the problem.

There are basically three different types of over-the-counter mange treatments available. We’ll discuss each type below.

1. Mange Shampoos

We’ve discussed the best shampoos for dog mange before, so give it a read to learn how mange shampoos work.

However, if you just want to cut to the chase, we think that SynergyLabs Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo is the best dog shampoo available for mange and recommend it strongly.

Details

  • GENTLE HEALING – Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic and Antiseborrheic Medicated...
  • FAST ACTING – This medicated dog shampoo works fast to relieve symptoms including inflamed scalp,...
  • VETERINARY RECOMMENDED – This paraben, dye & soap free pet shampoo will not remove topical spot-on...
  • FORMULATED FOR DOGS – Medicated antiparasitic and antiseborrheic shampoo is specifically...

SynergyLabs Medicated Shampoo contains coal tar and sulfur to kill the mites, as well as things like salicylic acid and oatmeal to help exfoliate and moisturize your dog’s skin.

It’s also gentle and unlikely to irritate your dog’s skin like some other medicated shampoos, as it is made without any parabens, dyes, or soaps.

2. OTC Mange Medications

There are a few over-the-counter mange medications available that you may want to consider.

Most OTC mange medications are made with various plant oils and are unlikely to help treat your dog’s mange. However, at least one product – Happy Jack Sarcoptic Mange Medicine – contains sulfur and appears to be effective in many cases.

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You’ll need to be careful using Happy Jack Mange Medicine and avoid getting it in your pet’s eyes. It is also wise to try this medication out on a very small area of your dog’s skin before treating his entire body, to be sure that it won’t irritate his skin.

3. Flea Treatments

A few prescription flea treatments are effective at killing mange mites, but one over-the-counter flea treatment — Frontline Plus – is also worth considering for additional mange-fighting properties.

Details

  • Waterproof flea and tick treatment for dogs: Frontline Plus for Dogs provides waterproof,...
  • Break the flea life cycle with frontline: Frontline flea and tick treatment for dogs kills adult...
  • Kills fleas and ticks: Frontline flea and tick treatment for dogs kills fleas, flea eggs, lice, and...
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Frontline Plus is a fipronil-based topical medication that is primarily intended as a flea and tick treatment, but it may help to control mite infestations too.

Note that Frontline Plus doesn’t claim to treat mange, but other fipronil-based treatments (specifically, spray-on varieties of fipronil) have been shown to be effective in eliminating sarcoptic mites. So, you probably should view Frontline Plus as one component of a comprehensive mange-treatment strategy.

Besides, your dog needs an effective flea and tick treatment anyway, so there’s little to be lost by trying Frontline Plus. 

Home Remedies for Dog Mange

If veterinary care isn’t immediately available, and none of the over-the-counter treatments listed above seem appropriate for your pet, you may want to try a popular home remedy.

We’ll discuss some of the most commonly recommended home remedies below, but it is important to understand that many are unlikely to help. Some may even present health risks for your pet.

Accordingly, it is imperative that you use great care when employing any of these strategies.

1. Olive Oil

Some owners have had success in treating very mild cases of localized mange with olive oil. Just apply a thin layer of the oil to the affected areas of your dog’s skin.

The oil may smother any mites present, and it’ll also help to re-moisturize your dog’s skin and quell your dog’s non-stop itchiness.

But while this treatment may provide some value for very minor cases of localized mange, it won’t provide any help for dogs who are battling body-wide infections (plus, coating your dog’s entire body in olive oil would not only be expensive, it would create an enormous mess all over your home).

Whether it ends up being effective or not, olive oil is probably one of the best home remedies to try, as it is completely harmless (although dogs who consume a significant amount may experience some intestinal issues), and it is readily available.

The biggest problem you’ll have is preventing your dog from simply licking it off.

2. Aloe Vera

Some dog owners have used extracts from the Aloe vera plant to treat mange. Aloe vera extract helps to soothe the skin, reducing the itchiness and irritation that mange mites cause. It also exhibits some mild antibacterial qualities, which may help prevent infections from setting in.

Some sources claim that Aloe vera extracts also kill ectoparasites, but we’ve been unable to find any reputable source that verifies this claim. However, just about any thick liquid, gel, or paste, may suffocate mites living on your dog’s skin, so it is plausible.

Aloe vera extracts are generally applied to the infected areas a few times a week until the mange clears up. Consequently, like the olive oil treatment, this is a home remedy that is only suitable for localized mange infections.

It’s also important to note that Aloe vera extracts are toxic to dogs, so you’ll need to prevent your pet from ingesting the substance – this is obviously easier said than done. You may have to fit your dog with an e-collar during this time.

Typically, dogs who eat Aloe vera suffer from vomiting or diarrhea, but in some cases, depression and muscle tremors may also occur.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is another popular home remedy for mange. Most owners who use it to treat mange just slather it on the affected area (obviously, this isn’t a good idea for pups suffering from systemic mange).

Like olive oil, plain, unsweetened yogurt is safe for dogs; in fact, it is actually full of naturally occurring probiotics, so it’s no big deal if your dog licks the yogurt off his skin.

If yogurt proves effective, it’ll likely be because it smothers most of the mites on your dog’s skin. It probably helps moisturize the skin a little, and the probiotics it contains may help eliminate fungi living on your dog’s skin, but this has yet to be empirically demonstrated.

Accordingly, there’s no reason you can’t try yogurt on dogs suffering from mild, localized cases of mange. It may not work, but it shouldn’t cause many serious problems.

4. Lemon

Various lemon juice and water mixtures are sometimes recommended for treating mange in dogs. They’re usually applied topically to the affected area.

Different sources recommend using different amounts of lemon juice, but you’re usually looking at a whole lemon or two in a liter or two of water. Sometimes, these mixtures are infused with garlic.

Ostensibly, the acidity of the resulting mixture will kill the mites living on your dog’s skin. It may also help to eliminate some of the bacteria or fungi present – many citrus fruits are known to have antiseptic properties.

However, there’s a big difference in the way lemon juice works in a petri dish and how it’ll work on your dog’s skin, so it may or may not have the intended effect.

While lemon juice isn’t toxic, and your dog isn’t likely to ingest very much, it may irritate your dog’s skin. It could even exacerbate skin problems, as it’ll likely kill off many of the beneficial bacteria living on your dog’s skin.

We’d generally discourage owners from trying this particular home remedy. 

5. Honey

Honey is another common home remedy for mange. Like many of the other substances used in these home remedies, honey is pretty safe, and it is even included in some dog foods.

Honey has a number of antifungal and antibacterial properties, so it may help combat infections, and the thick nature of the liquid will likely smother the mites living on your dog’s skin (at least in small areas).

From a health and safety perspective, it’s probably one of the safest home remedies for mange that dog owners employ.

But that doesn’t mean covering your dog’s skin in honey is a great idea. For one thing, your dog will probably twist himself in knots trying to lick it off, as most dogs find honey pretty tasty. Also, it’ll likely make your dog stickier than duct tape, which will cause dust and debris to adhere to his skin.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Some owners try to treat mange by applying apple cider vinegar to their dog’s skin or by adding it to their water bowl.

The mechanism by which this purportedly kills mange mites is rarely discussed, but the acidity of the solution is likely responsible for any positive results observed.

Pour some vinegar on a petri dish full of mange mites and it’ll probably kill the bugs, but once again, there’s a big difference between a petri dish and your dog’s skin. Besides, you could probably just drown mites in a petri dish with water, but this won’t work on your dog’s body.

Frankly, administering apple cider vinegar orally is really unlikely to help your dog’s mange in any way. Topical application may provide some value, but it is unlikely to help as much as proper mange medications.

Apple cider vinegar is often regarded as a “miracle” cure for everything from bacterial infections to acid reflux, but there just isn’t a lot of empirical data that backs these assertions.

It probably is helpful for treating some problems – particularly skin problems brought on by high pH levels – but it is highly unlikely to be the miracle cure it’s often described as.

In small quantities, apple cider vinegar probably won’t sicken your dog, but it may irritate his skin, especially if applied in non-diluted form.

A Common, But Dangerous, Home Remedy: Borax Dips

Homemade borax-based dips are often recommended for treating mange in dogs. And while these are likely more effective than some of the other common home remedies, they are not a good idea.

In fact, we’re not even going to share a recipe for these types of dips, as they’re potentially dangerous.

Borax is a laundry detergent that probably is pretty effective at killing mites. In fact, borax-based solutions may be great for killing mites on inanimate objects or floors.

However, borax is very toxic when ingested. In a best-case scenario, it’ll only cause your dog to suffer gastrointestinal distress, but it can also cause seizures or death if your dog eats too much. 

Additionally, borax is extremely drying to the skin. This will make your dog’s skin even more irritated than before, and it’ll likely increase the chances that your dog will suffer from a bacterial or fungal infection. 

Hygiene for the Whole House

It’s important to note that sarcoptic mites may not be living just on your dog; they’ll also end up infesting your dog’s bedding (demodectic mites don’t spread in this fashion). In fact, they may even wind up in your bed, couch, or carpets.

So, if you want to ensure your dog’s treatment is effective and reduce the chances of the mites spreading to the human members of your family, you’ll want to clean your home from top to bottom when dealing with canine mange.

Be sure to wash all of your linens in hot water and run them through the dryer on a high-heat setting to kill any of the little buggers living in your sheets and blankets.

Use a steam cleaner on your carpets to help kill any bugs living in the carpet fibers and replace or wash couch cushion covers and other fabrics that may have become infested.

***

Clearly, the wisest course of action is to solicit your veterinarian’s help anytime your dog suffers from mange. Not only will your vet be able to eliminate the mites quickly and easily, he or she will also be able to treat any secondary infections that may occur.

However, if you find yourself in a situation in which veterinary care is not available, you may want to try some of the over-the-counter treatments or home remedies discussed above. Just be sure to keep your pup’s health and well-being at the front of your mind and be ready to visit your vet if they don’t work.

Have you ever had to treat your mutt for mange? What kind of remedy did you use? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

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Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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Darlene Cane

Glad to find this article. My dog has what I suspect is mange but her vet says it’s ringworm. She is on an oral med and medicated baths but this is her third round of medicine and it isn’t working so I was looking for home mange remedies to add to her medication routine. You know, hit the buggers from 2 angles at once. I may try some of these

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Ben Team

Hey, Darlene.
Glad you found the article helpful, but make sure you keep your vet in the loop. We’d rather you speak with another vet if you’re not confident about the diagnosis, rather than just treating her on your own.
Best of luck!

Reply
Mudd

I’ve had 15 dogs in my life,4 were GSD, on the 4th now. Never in my life did I go through what I have been for 3-1/2 yrs with this GSD. I can honestly say I’ve done 10 times more than what is written in the notes above. I too have pretty much had it with allergies, skin infections, fleas, mites. Thousands of dollars invested in this dog. But I have always thought outside of the box because of having so many dogs prior. I am finally at a point where I might actually be on top of it. Hers some tips, do not keep switching dog foods, incorporate human food but cooked. I do batches of food then put in ziplock bags and freeze, pull out each day. Plus what ever we have for dinner that he can eat he gets it also. You can give your dig the following in moderation, all cooked:
Rice, green beans, cranberry sauce, yogurt, sweet potatoes, egg, chicken, pork, beef, cooked liver n hearts. Pasta, finely chopped carrots.hamburger meat.
I rotate the food, mix n match. One batch can have hamburger, rice, green beans, little chunk of sweet potatoes. I do little baggies of gravy also. Then when adding to dry food, add scoop of yogurt, cranberry sauce., jelled.
House tips, buy twin fitted sheets from Walmart, fit perfect over big coach n love seat. I change once a week. I vacuum 2-3 times a week.
Put a salt barrier around your house outside along foundation and inside. Do salt in each room along walls, corners, nooks n crannies. Leave it there for at least couple days. You can actually do your carpets but u have to lay down towels or sheets to walk on. Yes it will burn your feet. This works excellent for fleas. You can even put it under cushions on couches. Yup, I’ve done it all. I steam clean carpets once a month now. Both have helped considerably.
Vaseline, rub a good layer on ears, all over. Keep on for a week. Hot spot in the butt, tail area, do it there also, keep a cone on the dog constantly except for playing, pottie, eating, licking is the biggest problem.
Shampoos, I’ve spent hundreds, best thing so far., dawn dish soap and head n shoulder helps to control the skin issues and helps to heal. I use, Frontline plus., has helped. Plus Claritin works better than benedryl . Also, bad soars, hydrocortisone, at dollar store. Brush dog 2x day, helping bring out their natural oils. I’ve also used coconut oil on hot spots. The most important to stay on top of it all, washing floors, vacuuming, washing their bedding and yours., steam cleaning a must. You can steam clean with white vinegar., stinks, but when it drys, no smell. Most important, they need that come on constantly to stop licking. Have play time without cone on to keep stress down. Put the dog on an antibiotic and do all the above so you can either keep on top of it or get rid of it completely. I also do my yard. That’s another whole paragraph. Hope this helps some of you. I’m sure I could add more it I thought about it.
Oh yeah, wash all toys weekly in washer., then hit dryer. Change water daily. Bugs like to go in those too.

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Bradley See

This was really informational text that helped a lot and that is saying something considering i don’t make good comment’s at all but it was good and it helped a lot thank u guys for this god bless

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Ben Team

Glad you found it helpful, Bradley!

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B

Thank you so much! This was helpful.

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Marigold

Help Me!! I have a 14 yr old Bassett named cooper and a new rescue(1yr) 5 yr old beagle mix named buddy. I think we have mites, and mange. I have spent 1200 in vet bills science March with no resolve. 1st she said ear mites and skin infection, then skin infection back, and again, and again. Antibiotics, steroids, antibiotics, special shampoos, and now allergy meds. I have changed food, wash bedding daily. My body is on fire! I was assured that it was in my head, I couldn’t catch the dogs skin infection. I went to another vet. Another 395. More antibiotics, shots, ongoing meds for both dogs for allergies and medicated shampoo. Soon as the antibiotics are gone it’s back. This time with a vengeance. Now my husband is covered with bumps too. We have bathed in vinegar. I don’t believe the dogs have allergies. The meds are not working. I can’t afford to k ep doing the vet bill thing. Very frustrated. Any advice???

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Ben Team

Ugh. That sounds horrible, Marigold.
It’s disappointing to hear that you’ve spent so much time and money with two different vets, yet haven’t had good results.
If you and the doggos are suffering from the mange mites, you’d probably have to treat yourselves along with the pups. I’d recommend visiting the (human) doctor and try to get treatment for yourselves, as well as more info. That may help in treating your dogs too.
We sincerely wish you the best of luck. Please let us know how things turn out!

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Tammy

What kind of answer is that? I just like Mariold, I have and still am going thru the same with the vets, 7 of them to be exact, so imagine my vet bills and frustration. I am sick and tired of these vets bleeding me for every penny they can get. It is not fair that my baby has to suffer for a year now. I mean he is suffering too. I need real answers and remedies. Please I am desperate.

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Marion

Yes please.we are in exactly the same situation with both our dogs, myself and hubby infected as well.Please help!

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Marty

The best thing that clears the mites fast is sulfur. I bought some sulfur soap in my grocery store it said it was fir acne, but I’m telling you I bathed my dog every 3 days. I steamed our carpet, we even bathed with the sulfur soap, and I washed all of the bedding g for my pets and it works. The soap is in a Yellow box, with red letters. It’s called Sulfer with Lanolin. Its made in Mexico by GRISI labatories.

Stacy

Tammy, they are hard to defeat but you can. It’s a huge pain and monumental task. Washing and spraying everything everything. All furniture, human and animal beds(mattress and box springs) rugs, carpets every square inch. Porches and vehicles. They hitch a ride to anyplace you go. Do it every 3 days until you see no signs. 4 sometimes 5 times. Laundromat was easiest, cheapest and quickest. Two neighborhood roamers decided to crash on my porch. I Tracked them into my home. Ugh! I have 6 inside pooches. 4 pocket beagles and 2 German Shepherds.

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Grace Harke

I have found that coconut oil helps my dogs skin after an infection has begun. I’m not sure as to whether it actually gets rid of the mange or if it just moisturizes her skin but I lather her body in coconut oil and put a shirt on her and leave her like that for a day or two and then I bathe her with flea and tick shampoo and medicated mange shampoo. I also put coconut oil in her food when I notice it coming back. It doesn’t completely solve the problem but it definitely helps. The last time I saw my vet they gave her an allergy shot as well as nexgard for fleas and ticks. I too can’t afford to go back to the vet right now but I am thinking of trying the flea and tick medicine mentioned above because after using the nexgard I could tell a huge difference. Rather than using it every 3 months though, the vet instructed me to give it to her every 2 weeks for six weeks. The medicine definitely worked but I can’t afford to keep going back or pay for the expensive medications so I’m trying to figure out a home remedy or an otc medicine that works.

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