Three Basic Facts About Ear Mites
What Exactly Are Ear Mites?
The medical term for ear mites is Otodectes cynotis. They are teeny tiny parasites that live in the ears of dogs. They closely resemble ticks, except they’re barely visible to the naked eye. If they are, they’ll appear as small white dots, living their entire lives inside a dog’s ear. It takes approximately three weeks for mites to fully develop into adults. Once infected, the ear canal is made home to thousands of mites, causing inflammation and discomfort for your dog. Ear mite symptoms are typically noticeable. These pests are extremely contagious, passing from animal to animal by something as small as physical contact.
Dog owners will typically notice one or more of these ear mite symptoms:
- Dogs with ear mites are constantly scratching behind or inside their ears, using their feet, rubbing their ears on the ground, or shaking their heads incessantly.
- Their ears may be red and swollen.
- You may notice debris in their ears which closely resembles coffee grounds.
- A look inside reveals ear canal inflammation.
- There is an unusual head tilt or loss of balance.
- Your dog is vomiting or has a loss of appetite.
- You may smell an unpleasant odor in their ears.
- There is increased ear wax.
- Sudden hair loss (alopecia) develops around the ears.
- Some dogs’ ear flaps are thickened, bleeding, crusted, or oozing.
- In extreme cases, your dog may develop sores due to excessive scratching.
How are ear mites treated?
If you notice your pet displaying any of the aforementioned ear mite symptoms, do not attempt to treat your dog with over-the-counter medications. Please visit us first and as quickly as possible as your pet is likely in pain. Our veterinarians can perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including standard blood tests and an urinalysis, to rule out that your pup does not have any other infections. A dermatologic exam may be performed, as well. The collected skin scrapings will be used for laboratory analysis.
If there is a positive diagnosis of ear mites,the veterinarian will clean and flush your dog’s ears thoroughly to get rid of any ear wax or discharge. Mineral oil may be applied, in addition to medicinal drops that are placed in the ear canals or via an injection. Your vet will prescribe your dog with medication that will most likely continue for about a month. The ear mites will likely die much sooner than that, however it’s very important to continue with the treatment. Although your dog may not be displaying any ear mite symptoms, you want to complete the medication and ensure your pup’s future health and comfort.