I Think My Dog Has Ear Mites: What Do I Do?
Ear Mites in Dogs
I once had a border terrier with very itchy ears…do you have a dog with itchy ears? Well, it could be ear mites.
What are Ear Mites?
Ear mites are tiny microscopic parasites that can be found in dogs and cats, ferrets and rabbits. They are transmitted from close contact from the ‘host’ animal to another. If spotted, you may notice tiny white specks moving, however are not usually seen by the naked eye. They are very contagious, and are usually seen in puppies however can affect any dogs. They feed on ear skin oils and wax.
Ear mites are the second most common external parasite in dogs after fleas.
An ear mite lives for about 2 months, eggs hatch in only 4 days and it only takes 3 weeks for an mite to reach breeding age – but thankfully they are easily treatable.
What Symptoms do Ear Mites Cause?
Is your dog constantly shaking his head? Scratching at his ears with his paws so incessantly that they’ve become red and inflammed? This could be a sign of ear mites.
Ear Mites cause:
- Ear irritation
- Waxy or crusty ear discharge
- Areas of hair loss
- A crusty rash in or around the ear
- Unpleasant smell
- Ear trauma due to the itching (aural haematoma)
- They commonly lead to ear infections which may need treatment with antibiotics.
Ear mites need diagnosing by a vet, as there may be other causes of your dogs’ symptoms including bacterial or yeast infections which need different treatment.
The vet will need to examine your dogs ears with an otoscope to visualise the mites, or examine some discharge under a microscope. Taking your dog to have his ears examined may be particularly distressing if he is very sore. Personal experience included – your dog may need sedating for proper examination.
How are Ear Mites Treated in Dogs?
Thankfully, once diagnosed, ear mites are easy to treat.
- Usually, an insecticidal ‘spot on’ treatment the same as those used to treat fleas, can be used. They may require one or two doses.
- Ear drop treatments are also available but will need to be used for 3 weeks, as treatments cannot kill eggs, which take 3 weeks to become adult form.
- Treat all dogs and cats in the house.
- You should hot wash all dog beds and grooming accessories used on your dog.
- Your home should ideally be sprayed with a household flea spray. However beware, these mostly contain permethrin which is highly toxic to other animals including cats, fish and birds. Never spray this directly on your pet.
- Ensure that you regularly treat your dogs ears with a spot on flea treatment to prevent the occurrence of fleas and ear mites.
- If your dog is prone to dirty ears and excessive wax, your vet may advise you give them an occasional clean, ask them to show you how to safely do this. They may recommend an ear cleaner solution/spray, and remember never to stick things like cotton buds down the ear canal.
- Observe your dogs ears regularly for signs of recurrence such as redness or itching.
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