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What are ear mites and how do I get rid of them?

Updated on April 8, 2012

Parasite infestation would always be the concern of dog owners. Parasites can be passed on to other pets and also to humans. Ear mites are one of these external parasites that will make the life of the pet extremely uncomfortable. Ear mite infestation is not considered as a zoonotic disease as it cannot be passed on to humans. However, it would still be necessary to eradicate the infestation not only because of the discomfort the parasites cause the pet but also because severe infestation can seriously damage the eardrums. A dog can permanently lose its hearing because of ear mites.

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What are ear mites?

Ear mites are crab-like or spider-like parasites that live on the ears of animals. These parasites can make the life of your dog or cat extremely uncomfortable because they cause immense itching. Several types of ear mites infest animals. Otodectes cynotis are the most common ear mites in dogs. Ear mites can migrate to the other parts of the dog’s body but they would not really do well as these parasites thrive in areas where air flow is restricted. Ear mite infestation is most common in floppy eared dogs. The warm and moist location of the ear canal is the perfect breeding ground for ear mites. Moreover, the parasites would burrow into the ear canal and feed on ear wax and epidermal debris.

How to detect the presence of ear mites

The scratching and the head shaking can be manifestations of another health concern. What would verify the presence of these little bugs in the dog’s ears are brown or reddish brown coffee ground-like exudates. Ear mite infestation can result to excessive formation of ear wax. Although very small, the parasites can be seen as white dots scurrying among the black or brown ear debris.

Symptoms of ear mite infestation

Extreme itchiness is the typical symptom of ear mites. The dog would frantically scratch the ears and shake the head. To relieve the itch, the dog will be seen rubbing the ears on the ground. The incessant scratching and head shaking would result to the formation of hematomas when blood vessels break. A dog with severe ear infestation will repeatedly shake the head and scratch the ears until the ear canals bleed. Bacterial and yeast infections can seriously damage the ear drums. Foul odor will emanate from the dog’s eats. Left untreated, the infection can result to permanent hearing loss.

How to get rid of the parasites

Ear mites are highly contagious. An infested mother dog can easily transmit the parasites to the puppies. These little buggers can be easily transferred from one pet to another. Fortunately, ear mite eradication can be done easily. Affordable over the counter medications are widely available. The owner has to thoroughly clean the dog’s ears. The brown and black gunk can be removed with cotton ball dampened with olive oil. The crusty ear wax must be removed from all the nooks and crannies of the ears so that the medication can fully penetrate the ears and kill the parasites. Treatment must be repeated until the infestation is resolved. To fully get rid of the ear mites the body of the dog has to be treated as well.

Ear Mites in Dogs

Ear Disease in Dogs can be caused by ear mites, allergies or yeast infections

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