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Ear mites (otodectes cynotis) and Dogs

What are ear mites?

Ear mites are tiny parasites, barely detectable by the naked eye, that feed on the wax and oils in an animal’s ear canal. An adult mite can live up to 2 months but can be ready to breed just three weeks after hatching.  It only takes a few mites to cause an intense allergic reaction, making an affected animal’s ears very itchy and uncomfortable. Cats, rabbits and ferrets can also suffer with ear mites.

What are the symptoms of an ear mite infestation?

Some or all of the following symptoms may indicate your dog has ear mites and needs to be looked at by your vet:-

  • Scratching the ear or the area around the ear
  • Rubbing the ear on the floor or furniture
  • Shaking or tilting head
  • Walking in circles
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Small brown waxy deposits (resembling coffee granules)
  • Odour in the ear
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Hearing loss
  • Scratching neck, rump and tail

What are the causes of ear mites?

Ear Mites are distinguished by the small brown deposits left by these tiny white parasites, just inside the dog’s ear. Infestation is caused by contact with an affected animal or it’s bedding and is very easily transmitted. It doesn’t take many ear mites to cause an intense allergic reaction which the dog will try to relive by scratching and rubbing their ears.

What are the risk factors of an ear mite infestation?

If left untreated, the constant scratching can cause sores and a chance of infections. The dog’s repetitive shaking of his head may cause hematomas (pockets of blood) at the end of his ear flaps. If ear mites go untreated they can cause permeant damage and in severe cases, the dog’s hearing can be affected.

How are ear mites diagnosed?

If your dog is showing some or all of the above symptoms, and both ears are affected, your vet is likely to diagnose ear mites

What treatment is there for ear mites?

The affected areas will be thoroughly cleaned and an anti-parasitic medication applied to the skin followed by a course of treatments, usually ear drops administered at home.  If your dog has developed a secondary infection, he will also be given a course of antibiotics. During treatment, the mites may leave the ears and lodge themselves on the dog’s neck paws and tail.  If this happens your dog will need to be treated with a topical powder (powder applied directly to the affected area) or shampooed weekly for a least 4 weeks to be certain to rid him of the mites.

How to prevent ear mites

Avoid you dog coming into contact with affected animals. If one of your household pets has ear mites, it should be isolated from other pets and all animals should be treated as a precaution, as directed by your vet.

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