There's an old saying that a dog who looks rough and tumble with unkempt fur and a rather haggard appearance is "mangy." That's not a fair description. Mange is a real dog disease that causes skin problems. Borax for dogs with mange is sometimes discussed as a home remedy that can help take care of this unsightly problem, but actually, using borax can irritate their already-irritated skin even more.
What is mange?
According to the American Kennel Club, mange is a common dog skin disease, particularly in dogs that are strays or in those that are not cared for or otherwise neglected. Dogs with mange do resemble sad cases of neglect: their hair falls out, their skin is covered with sores, and their skin becomes thick and hard.
Mange is caused by different types of mites, and there are two major types. Sarcoptic mange is also known as scabies. Sometimes, demodectic mange is also known as red mange or demodex. Both mites live by burrowing into the skin or the hair follicle, causing intense itching.
Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious. Female mites lay their eggs in the skin, and they hatch in about three weeks. The young mites feed on the dog's skin. Demodectic mange mites are actually common on dog skin, but the dog's normal immune system usually fights them off. Dogs that have a weakened immune system or another underlying infection or those who are younger than 18 months of age are more at risk for a colony of demodectic mites to get out of control.
Borax for mange
A veterinarian will usually prescribe a skin cream or ointment containing a chemical to kill the parasites. Dogs Naturally says that chemicals are not your only choice, although some of the commonly discussed home remedies, such as borax and hydrogen peroxide, may not actually work. Putting borax on the skin is too harsh, and the hydrogen peroxide might cause hair discoloration.
There are a lot of websites that suggest using borax for dogs with mange or a combination of borax and hydrogen peroxide, but most of them are outdated and are not authoritative sources. The Alberni Veterinary Clinic says that borax is toxic to some living things, which means that it might kill the mites, but it can also be toxic to your dog and may irritate skin that is already irritated by the mites.
Alternatives to borax for dogs
There are some natural products that have shown some effectiveness in ridding living organisms, such as mites. Some natural anti-parasitic oils are niaouli essential oil, Barbados nut oil, or karanji oil. Another is neem oil, and there are several commercial dog shampoos available that contain neem oil.
Canine Journal suggests that some home remedies for dog mange include brushing your dog's fur to remove the irritating skin and scabs in addition to the mites themselves. Keep their bedding clean. Applying plain yogurt with live bacterial cultures to the affected skin could help as long as they aren't able to lick it off their skin (which they no doubt would try to do). You can put apple cider vinegar on their food or apply to their skin some water in which you have boiled and steeped a slice of lemon.
Supporting your dog's immune system through nutrition and healthy exercising and managing other underlying health problems can help prevent mange, particularly the demodectic type. If you think your dog has mange, schedule an appointment with your vet to get an official diagnosis. Once you know the type of mange with which you are dealing, you can discuss home remedies that will be safe and effective.