What are Ear Mites?
As the name suggests, ear mites are a tiny spider like parasitic mite that infect the ears of dogs and cats. They usually live in the ear canals but can live on other parts of the dog or cat's body. Ear mites are the most common cause of ear infections seen by vets. They are more commonly found in cats than dogs but are a considerable cause of ear infection in dogs too.
Some breeds of dogs are more prone to ear mite infections that others, especially dogs with long floppy ears. The ear mites thrive in the warm moist area where the air flow is restricted.
Ear mites feed on epidermal debris & ear wax. They burrow into the ear, causing inflammation which the body responds to by producing more wax.
What are the Symptoms of Ear Mites in dogs?
Ear mites are terribly uncomfortable for your dog. Imagine how it would feel having thousands of little bugs running around in one of your most sensitive areas. Usually the first symptom you notice will be your dog scratching his ears or shaking his head due to the extreme itchiness that the mites cause. His ears may be painful to touch and he may cry in pain when you touch them or while he is scratching them. He may rub his face along the ground trying to relieve the itching. You may also notice a foul odor coming from the ears.
Dogs may cause damage by scratching causing the ears to bleed. They may also shake their ears with such intensity that small blood vessels are broken and hematomas form.
Diagnosis of Ear Mites
If you have a look inside the ear of an infected dog you will see dark reddish brown or black debris throughout the ear canal which has been described as looking like coffee grounds. Ear mites are visible to the naked eye and can be seen as white dots among the dark debris. You may even see them moving around.
Your vet will look in your dogs ear with a magnifying instrument called an otoscope and may inspect the debris from the ear under a microscope for a more definite diagnosis. Ear mite infections can be serious if left untreated resulting in damage to the ear canals and eardrums and leaving deformity of the ears and possible deafness.
Secondary bacterial or yeast infections are also common so it is important to consult your veterinarian. Your dog may require antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections.
Treatment of Ear Mites. How Do I Get Rid Of Ear Mites?
You can purchase ear mite treatments from your usual pet supply store or your vet will prescribe an oily insecticide to clean the ear canals. All ear exudate has to be cleaned from the ear canal daily. The medication should massaged deeply into the dog's ear taking care to get into all the nooks and crannies of the ear canal. It is important to follow your vet's or the product's instructions for the application of the treatment as you need to control the ear mite's life cycle.
Revolution is another option. It is a Parasiticide that is applied to the skin of dogs six weeks of age and older. Revolution is used to prevent heartworm disease, kills adult fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching and treats and prevents ear mite infestation. It can be purchased from your vet, from a pet supply store and online.
Are Ear Mites Contagious?
Ear mites are very contagious and can be passed on from dog to dog or dog to cat so it is important to treat all of your pets at the same time.
Can Humans Catch Ear Mites?
No, humans are not affected by ear mites.