Does Your Pet Have Ear Mites?
What are ear mites?
Ear mites are tiny tick like creatures that can infect the ears of household and outdoor pets. They are the most common cause of ear infections, and are more commonly found in cats than dogs. They typically live in warm, moist areas where there is little air flow, like the ear canal, and feed on wax found in the ear. The burrowing necessary for them to feed causes inflammation and irritation.
They are many different types of ear mites, but the most common is the otodectes cynotis. These eight legged parasites have a three week life cycle, and they are very difficult to see with the naked eye. Infections caused by these mites could become very serious if left untreated.
Ear mites are very contagious. They can travel all over the animal’s body, and could therefore be transmitted when two animals touch. They can live on cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets, but are almost never found in humans. If ear mites are suspected in one animal, all pets in the household should be treated.
Symptoms of ear mites
The most obvious symptom of ear mites is intense itching, which will cause the animal to scratch the ears and violently shake its head frequently. Too much scratching of the ears could cause raw areas, scabs, inflammation, and/or loss of hair around the ears. Scratching could also cause damage to the ear canals and eardrums, which could leave the animal deformed or deaf.
After the mites have taken over the ear canal, you will be able to see a dry, waxy, dark brown and red discharge in the animal’s ear. This discharge has been said to look like coffee grounds and could be very foul smelling. The debris is made up of ear wax and blood, and the mites may be seen as little white dots among the debris.
Some animals may feel intense pain in their ears when they have ear mites. Many of these animals will lay their ears back or cry out in pain when the ears are touched or scratched.
There are many other types of ear infections that could possibly be causing your pet’s symptoms, so make sure you consult your veterinarian before you start treatment. They will be able to give you a correct diagnosis, along with any other important information you could use to help your pet. Do not begin treatment unless your vet has made this diagnosis. Using the medication necessary to rid your pet of ear mites could potentially cause more complications if the cause of their symptoms is another ailment entirely.
How to get rid of ear mites
As soon as the vet correctly diagnoses your pet with ear mites, you should start treatment immediately. Ear mite treatments can be bought at your local pet supply store or they may be prescribed by your veterinarian. Some of these medications are applied directly in the ear while other medications are applied on the skin. Your pet may also need anti-inflammatory drugs or an antibiotic to resolve an infection. Again, ask your veterinarian about these medications before you use them.
The first step you must take before applying medication in the ears is to rid them of the debris that has built up. If not, the debris and wax will help shelter the mites from the medication, and they will not be illuminated. The best way to clean your animal’s ears is with a cotton ball or soft cloth dipped in vegetable oil. After they are clean, you should apply the medication, and massage it deeply into their ears so that you successfully hit every part of the ear canal.
Follow all of your vet’s instructions regarding the dosage and frequency of application. It is very important that you complete the recommended course of treatment, even if it seems the mites have gone. Continuing treatment will prevent the eggs of the mites from hatching and taking over your pet’s ears again.
Amy Young is an author of articles like this one related to various topics. Her company strives to educate the general public about personal finance and proper credit practices.