The shoulder dips, the legs go in the air, the body twists in delight, and before you have time to shout “STOP!!!!”, your dog is covered in fox poo and stinking. Usually, there are no consequences other than a ripe smell in the car on the way home and a cold (or warm if you’re feeling generous) shower for the pooch.

Sometimes, however, your dog starts to itch and lose bits of fur. Your nightmare becomes reality – your dog has sarcoptic mange, i.e. scabies. You start to scratch at your own skin, put everything in the washing machine, and promptly make an appointment with the vet.

The general convention for diagnosing sarcoptic mange is a skin scrape and a prescription of topical treatment. When you have a dog with a fear of being touched, let alone having chemicals put on his neck, you have to think outside the box.

Ralphie’s vet decided that as his presenting symptoms were so indicative of sarcoptic mange, he could forgo the skin scrape as it is not 100% accurate and the sedation it would inevitably entail was an extreme measure when using symptoms alone was good enough. How to treat the mange was a big question, however. The only way to get topical treatment onto his neck would be to physically pin him down with force. The other option was to use a chemical dip, with his owner having to wear protective clothing to protect herself – hardly a selling point! All parties felt that this was far too harsh an option and not in Ralphie’s best interests. An alternative plan was required.

The owner had already done some research into options and presented them to the vet, who agreed that they would try and see if they worked. So the owner purchased some neem shampoo and a spray which acts as a contraceptive, preventing the life cycle of the mites. Secondly, a homeopathic protocol was used for sarcoptic mange. A follow up appointment was made to see if the alternative treatment had worked.

Ralphie isn’t fussy about what sort of poo he rolls in – ultra fresh cow pats is perfectly acceptable!

To the vet’s delight, Ralphie presented two weeks later with no evidence of mange. His skin had cleared up and he was no longer scratching. She was so impressed that she asked for the details so she could do her own research.

Having a skin scrape and forcing a chemical topical or dip treatment on him would have completely destroyed Ralphie’s trust of his owners, ruining their relationship, and making him fearful of ever visiting the vet again. 

Having the option to choose a safe, natural and alternative treatment, with the full backing of a vet, is worth its weight in gold. It can save a lot of heartache and shows just how important it is to be able to consider all treatment options in a full and open discussion with your vet.

Ralphie’s sister is also partial to a bit of poo!