A combination of sulfur and lime (sulfurated lime) is used to kill bacteria, parasites and fungal infections on pets including mange demodex mites, sarcoptes scabiei mites, and ringworm. Sulfurated lime also relieves itching caused by parasites and ringworm.
Solutions of sulfur and lime are used as a rinse or dip every 5-7 days to treat mange (demodex) infections. Treatment is repeated for several weeks until skin scrapings have been clear of mites for at least a month. Sulfurated lime is safe to use on dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens at a dilution of four ounces in one gallon of water. If this concentration does not clear the mite infection, the concentration of sulfurated lime can be doubled to eight ounces per gallon of water.
Unfortunately, sulfur causes an offensive odor and the dip should be applied in a well ventilated room. The smell becomes less noticeable after the dip dries. Dip is left on the skin and is not towel dried, and your pet is not washed or allowed to get wet between treatments. Sulfurated lime dips stain jewelry, porous surfaces such as cement, and the white or light-colored coats of pets. The stained coat returns to a normal color over time. Bathing your pet with a benzoyl peroxide shampoo before dipping opens skin follicles and increases mite exposure to the dip.
Amitraz is a chemical (triazapentadiene) that kills insects and spiders on plants and pets. One of the formulations of amitraz is Mitaban Dip (for dogs). In veterinary medicine, amitraz is used to kill ticks, mites, and lice. Amitraz is approved by the FDA to be used weekly in dogs at least four months of age. Amitraz use in cats is "off-label" use. For pets with infections that do not clear with weekly dips, veterinarians may prescribe more frequent dips or may prescribe dips at higher concentrations than normally used. Either of these treatments is considered "off label" use of amitraz. Even with these modifications, up to 20% of adult pets with generalized demodex infection don't improve.
Amitraz dips are done with a veterinarian's guidance because amitraz is mildly toxic. The following recommendations help make the dip effective and safe for you and your pet:
- Don't use on pets with deep, draining bacterial infections. Clean up skin infections first.
- Clip your pet's hair unless it is naturally short.
- Bathe your pet with a benzoyl peroxide shampoo before dipping. This bathing opens skin follicles and increases mite exposure to the dip.
- Put protective eye ointment in your pet's eyes and cotton balls in the ears to avoid getting dip in them. Gently sponge areas around your pet's head and don't get dip in the lips or mouth.
- Cover the entire rest of your pet with dip.
- Leave the dip on and do not towel it off or rinse it off. Don't let your pet swim or become wet between treatments.
- Repeat the dip every 1-2 weeks until skin scrapings have no live or dead mites for at least a month. Skin scrapings are taken from bald areas and from normal-haired areas.
- When applying the dip on your pet, wear protective clothing and remove jewelry, which is discolored by amitraz.
- Work in a well-ventilated place but do not allow your pet to get cold.
Amitraz for Pododermatitis (Mange of Your Pet's Paws)
For dogs with demodex paw infections, some veterinarians recommend soaking your dog's paws in amitraz mixed with mineral oil. This is "off label" use, but can be highly effective.
Side Effects of Amitraz
Amitraz is a powerful medication and it can cause side effects in dogs. Most dogs become lethargic after being dipped. Amitraz is most likely to be toxic to toy breeds, senior pets, weak pets, cats, and rabbits. Toxic effects include high blood sugar, vomiting, diarrhea, unsteadiness (ataxia), and slow heart rate.
Amitraz should not be handled by people with diabetes or by people taking MAO Inhibitors such as Parnate and selegiline. Amitraz should not be used on dogs taking Anipryl or Selegiline for Cushing's Disease and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (senility). Sulfurated lime is a safer medication for these pets.