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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 23781
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Our 5 year old irish setter is affected by harvest mites and

Customer Question

our 5 year old irish setter is affected by harvest mites and other mites mainly on his paws .the vet has prescribed a wash and mentioned his immune system being slightly out of sync . how can we regulate our otherwise healthy dogs immune system to better protect him from these irritating mites
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 month ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 month ago.

Lynn, I believe that Murphy's vet misspoke. Trombiculid infestation such as with the harvest mite/chiggers is independent of my patient's immune status. Debilitated dogs might be more susceptible to being colonized by ectoparasites but Murphy is neither debilitated nor immunocompromised. Most important and contrary to what you may have read, there are no over the counter reliably effective immune system boosters. You'll find wild claims all over the internet to the contrary but there isn't a whit of scholarly evidence that these products do as they're purported to do.

On the other hand, we do know that demodicosis (the Demodex mange mite) can become a problem in immunocompromised dogs - the very young and old, compromised by disease or immunocompromising drugs such as glucocorticosteroids such as prednisone (prednisone should be avoided if immune system compromise is to be avoided in Murphy), chemotherapeutics such as cyclosporin and newer drugs such as oclacitinib. If Murphy's skin has been scraped and Demodex has been identified, an underlying and immunocompromising disorder should be searched for. In general, with adult onset demodicosis I'm looking for hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, or Cushing's disease - none of which are likely in an otherwise normal Murphy.

For chiggers and harvest mites, treatment with one or two applications (1-2 weeks apart) of a parasiticidal spray, spot-on, dip, or otic preparation is recommended. Recent studies suggest that a 0.25% fipronil (Frontline or generics, e.g.) pump spray or combination permethrin-pyriproxfen pump spray or spot-on is especially effective when used according to label instructions.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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