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Ear mites are a very common illness that happens commonly to domesticated animals. They can be a minor issue or, they can cause permanent problems. Many people are unaware of ear mites until it happens to their pets. As a dog owner, I am aware of how important it is to take care of our pets ears! I thought I would share some tips today for checking for ear mites, as well as how to treat them.
Treating Ear Mites in Pets
What are Ear Mites?
Ear mites are teeny tiny parasites that are found inside the ear canal.
What do Ear Mites Look Like?
You would probably expect to see bugs when you look into your animals ear. However, that isn’t the case with ear mites. When the ear canal has ear mites in it, it looks a lot like their ear has dirt or coffee grounds in it.
What Animals can Get Ear Mites?
Both dogs and cats can have ear mites. They are more common in cats (specifically outdoor cats). Young cats are the most susceptible.
Are Ear Mites Contagious?
Yes. They can be spread from one animal to another via contact. Human skin coming into contact with ear mites may cause a rash but, it is extremely unlikely for ear mites to make their way into human ears.
Symptoms of Ear Mites
- Persistent scratching of the ears
- Head Shaking
- Dark discharge at the edge of the ear
- Tilting the head to one direction when sitting
- Pain due to inflammation
- Smelly ears
- Crying out when scratching their ears
Over the Counter
There are several over the counter ear mite treatments on the market however, they don’t tend to work very well.
Vegetable Oil and mineral oil are the go to oils for ear mites. Mineral oil is the best option but, either will work.
The oil is applied to their ear canal with a needle-less syringe. Your cat or dog will want to shake it out but, try to massage it down into the canal. The oil helps to smother an ear mites it comes into contact with and also soothes the irritated ear a bit. Place a cotton ball into your pet’s ear and wipe out all of the mites you possibly can.
If it all possible, I suggest to do the oil treatments outside. Whether that is on a porch or in your garage. If outside isn’t an option then I would do it over a sheet or towel that you can wash. When your pet shakes their head, ear mites will come out with the other debris, leaving possibly live ear mites on whatever surface they land on.
Once the ear mites are confirmed by the vet, they can offer you several prescription treatments for the ear mites. There are flea and tick treatments that also kill ear mites, treatments applied strait into the ear canal or possibly an oral medication.
The Veterinarian will choose the treatment that they feel will work best for your pet and their individual case.
Anytime your pet is scratching or shaking their head, there is a chance that ear mites are falling out. They can live off of a host for upto a month and continue to lay eggs so, it is important that you are washing any blankets or bedding that the animal regularly comes into contact with. Washing all of these items at least a few times a week will help to minimize the chance of reinfection.
Other ear infections could be the cause of these symptoms as well so it is best to get it diagnosed by the vet.
If you visit a friend or family member and their pet has ear mites, it is entirely possibly for you to carry them home on your clothing to your own pet.
If you happen to treat at home, permethrin is a common treatment for ear mites however, it is very dangerous for cats.
Just like humans, don’t stick a q-tip way down into the ear canal as it can damage their ears.
If you notice that your pet is acting lethargic or has a fever, it is important that you contact the vet right away as there may be other things going on.
Ear mites in pets is common. If they are left untreated, it can cause permanent damage so it is important that you treat them as soon as you notice them. If you are ever unsure about whether your pet has ear mites or not, it is best to call your Veterinarian. Once your pet is more comfortable things can go back to normal.