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Friday, November 12, 2010

Dog Ear Mites

Ear mites are a tiny spider like parasitic mite that infects the ears of dogs and cats. They usually live in the ear canals but can live on other parts of the dog or cat's body. Ear mites are the most common cause of ear infections seen by vets. They are more commonly found in cats than dogs but are a considerable cause of ear infection in dogs too. They cause pain and discomfort as they bite through a dog's skin to feed. This usually causes an allergic reaction in most dogs. Dog allergies can be as severe as in humans but with dog, symptoms show more because of the scratching that that may result in other dog health problems.

How are the mites transmitted?

Ear mites are extremely contagious. They can be passed from the mother animal to her offspring. Additionally, the mites are easily spread to other pets within the household including cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, ferrets, etc. Humans are not affected.

Symptoms of Dog Ear Mites

Ear mites live inside the ear canal and they feed on earwax. As they stay for a longer time in the ears, their wastes are accumulated in the dog’s ears. It leads to irritation, swelling and accumulation of fluid inside the ear. When these mites bite the skin, it causes pain and discomfort. It gives rise to an allergic reaction in most dogs. There is an inflammatory reaction which swells up the area around dog’s ears. Some signs and symptoms of dog ear mites are frequent head shaking, rubbing the head and ears against objects, persistent scratching around the ears, loss of balance, increased earwax, vomiting, refusing to eat, sensitive ears and hurt when touched, foul-smelling odor coming from the ears and dark brown to black debris in the ears. Frequent scratching causes formation of sores around the ears.

A dog’s ear is generally dark, warm and moist. This environment is perfect for growth of yeast and bacteria. The open sores due to ear mite infestation can increase the risk of secondary bacterial or yeast infections, causing more pain. If left untreated, the ear mites can burst the eardrum. In such situation, the middle ear might be severely infected.

Diagnosing Ear Mites

Many pet owners mistake ear mite infestations for ear infections and embark on a lengthy treatment program using over-the-counter treatments to no avail.

It is therefore important to take your pet to the vet where a proper diagnosis can be made and yeast and bacterial infections can be ruled out. Other symptoms of ear mites include black or dark brown discharge from the ears (this may resemble ground coffee beans), sores or hair loss around the ear.

How Are Ear Mites Treated?

• Ear mites can be treated with products your veterinarian will prescribe that are applied directly in the ear or parasite medications that are applied right to the skin.

• If the ears have infections or build-up of debris, gentle cleaning may be required with cotton and a canine ear cleaner. (This may require sedation, depending on the dog's temperament and the severity of build-up.)

• Your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or an antibiotic to resolve infections.

• A dog will start to feel relief soon after treatment begins, but please complete the full cycle of treatment and remember that all animals in a household need to be treated to ensure full eradication.

How Can I Prevent Ear Mites?

A routine ear cleaning once a month can inhibit the presence of ear mites. If your pet has recently recovered from ear mites, be sure to thoroughly clean his bedding and check your other pets for infection