All About Ear Mites

ear mites

What are ear mites?

Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in a dog’s or cat’s ears and live off of wax, dead skin, and other debris. The most common ear mite species found in pets is called Otodectes cynotis. Once in the ear, the mite quickly multiplies, causing secondary health problems, such as inflammation and infection of the ears.

How do pets get ear mites?

Direct contact is all it takes for ear mites to be transmitted from one pet to another. Dogs can get ear mites, but they’re more common in felines because of the close contact cats have with other outdoor animals.

Can people get ear mites?

Ear mites can live in human ears, but infection is rare because they prefer animal hosts. In fact, there was an incident where one vet purposely contracted ear mites to see if it was possible; it took various attempts for him to finally be successful.

What are the symptoms of ear mites?

Ear mite symptoms in pets include shaking of the head, itchiness, irritation, inflamed ears, excess ear wax (usually dark brown in color), scabs or hair loss around the ears due to scratching, and foul ear odor. Schedule an appointment with your vet at the first sight of ear problems in your pet to prevent complications, such as an infection.

How are ear mites in cats and dogs diagnosed?

In some cases ear mites are big enough to be seen with the naked eyes, but microscopic evaluation is the best way to make an accurate diagnosis. Vets can also use a special ear instrument with magnification power to look into the ear and check for mites.

How are ear mites treated?

Ear mites in dogs and cats are treated with an ear solution prescribed by your vet. It will either be a one-time medication or require repeated applications. Before applying treatment, it’s important that your pet’s ears are thoroughly cleaned with a special solution so that the medication can evenly disperse in the ear.

Can ear mites be prevented in pets?

Even if only one pet has been diagnosed with ear mites, treating all of your pets at the same time can help prevent an infestation. Cleaning your pet’s belongings (bed, clothing, etc.) and disinfecting your home on a regular basis can also minimize the risks of an ear mite infestation.