Thursday, September 30, 2010

Herbal "Mange" Itchy Skin Treatment for Dogs

For the past six months or so, our puppy Zen has been dealing with a nasty skin condition. Twice we had skin scrapings done and twice they were negative for mange. I have since learned that often tests will miss the mites and fail to diagnose them correctly.

Trips to the vet for his viciously itchy skin resulted in him being shot with steroids and then with antibiotics, but if anything, these treatments only worsened his itching. Three days after the antibiotics his skin condition actually got WORSE and we spent a scary night staying up with him because we didn't like the sound of his breathing.

He was miserable, itchy and tearing huge patches out of his skin. We tried making him wear a bucket, which he managed to slip out of a few hundred times, and eventually eat.

The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet CareI didn't want to bring him back to the vet, since I knew she'd just pump him full of more antibiotics or steroids. My research showed that these "cures" can increase the flora that leads to itchy skin. I'm also not happy about the idea of pumping my dog up with modern medicines to begin with, so I researched an herbal cure with the help of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care.

I ended up with two different preparations based on my research, and combining several of the recipes in that book:

Dog Skin Salve

3 parts calendula flowers
1 part plaintain leaf
1 part arnica flowers
1 part lavender
1 part yarrow
1 part comfrey leaf
1 part burdock root
Olive oil to cover
2 droppers full neem oil
beeswax granules, approximately 1 oz for a 4 oz jar
3 capsules vitamin E
A sterilized jar

I initially used 1 oz measurements for each "part."

For "instant gratification" (I didn't have time to let the herbs sit in the oil for a couple weeks) put the herbs into a non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel or pyrex) add olive oil to cover and heat on the lowest possible setting for approximately 14 hours. Don't let the oil boil. Strain, saving the herbs for your next batch (or better yet for the slow method).

The slow method: Rather than heating your oil, just place the herbs in a jar, cover with oil and let sit somewhere out of the light. Give the jar a vigorous shake once or twice a day. The herbs should infuse into the oil and be ready to use within about 2 weeks to a month.

Each time I make a new salve, I add a couple handfuls of the herbs to the old oil, cover with new oil and continue the process.

To turn your oil into a salve, most recipes will tell you to use an old pot because the beeswax will allegedly stick to the pot and be impossible to remove. Since I was in the process of moving and didn't have access to an old pot, I used the same stainless steel pot I use for cooking, and didn't have any trouble cleaning it out, with a small application of boiling water. Anyway:

Pour the herb oil into the salve jar you'll be using, leaving about 1/4 of the jar empty. (Basically this is just a measure of how much oil will fit in your jar.) So probably about 3 oz for a 4 oz jar. Pour this oil back into the saucepan and warm over low heat. (Pour the excess oil back in with the herbs.) Add in the beeswax and allow it to melt.

Test your salve for the correct texture by putting a tiny drop on your wrist. Blow on it to allow it to cool. When you rub it into your skin it should smear and melt easily from your body heat. If it's too hard add more oil, if too soft add a bit more beeswax.

Pour the oil/beeswax mix into your jar, stir in the neem oil and the vitamin E (the vitamin E is used to keeps the mix from going bad and of course adds its benefit towards skin and hair health).

Smooth this salve into your dog's wounds and itchy spots about 3x a day.

Dog Skin Oil

1/4 cup olive oil
2 droppers tea tree oil
2 droppers neem oil
1 dropper lavender oil
1 dropper rosemary oil
1 dropper grapefruit seed oil

Mix this and massage into the dog's skin at least once or twice per day.

Within a day or two we noticed that Zen's itchiness had gone way down, and in less than a week, the giant holes he'd bitten in his rump had started healing to small scabs. In a month's time, a huge majority of his skin had fully grown back hair including places we'd thought he scared for life.

Unfortunately, during our move, the salve and ingredients got misplaced so, I've just recently found them and am going back to the treatment. There are still a few small places on his neck that are scarred and hair has not yet grown back on. And he once again has itchy legs. Now that he's back on these treatments I'll report more about how it goes in the near future.

Be aware that we cannot yet state that this was actually mange. However we took him to our new vet in Colorado and he suspects it is/was mange. Zen has an ear infection that may or may not be related to this problem. I'm going to focus on that right now, and afterward we'll do another skin test, while continuing with the salve and skin oil.

Also, regarding the ears - do NOT use these treatments inside your dog's ear, as there is a potential for harming their eardrums and the delicate nerves in their ears.

1 comment:

  1. Hi...Your post really got me thinking man..... an intelligent piece ,I must say. Get more information about Itchy Skin