Ear mites are one of the most common diseases of dogs and puppies. The good news is that ear mites are easily treated and there are many ways to prevent them from getting worse. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and prevention methods.
What Are Ear Mites?
Ear mites are parasites that live and reproduce within the ear canal of dogs and cats. They are very contagious among dogs and most puppies and kittens get ear mites at some point in their lives. Ear mites in dogs and cats are a common reason for veterinary visits to the clinic.
Ear mites in dogs can often be prevented with proper ear care and hygiene, including regular cleaning of the dog’s ears. Doing so will help reduce the risk that your dog will get ear mites or that ear mites will spread from one dog to another.
Causes of Ear Mites in Dogs and Puppies
Ear mites are tiny creatures that live the ear canal of the host animal, infecting them with their saliva and waste products. They can cause a lot of discomfort for your pet so it is important to get rid of them as fast as possible.
You can bring ear mites into your home if you take care of other pets that have ear mites at home, or if you take them to places where other dogs and cats with ear mites could be present. Ear mites spread from one dog to another through close contact, much like a person would catch a cold from someone else.
What Are the Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs and Puppies?
Ear mites look like tiny dark specks that resemble coffee grounds inside your pet’s ears, and they can be seen with the naked eye if you pull your dog’s ear back and forth in order to view the insides of both ears. They are usually found deep within the ear canal.
The mites are often spread from pets that have had ear mites before, but you can get them if your dog spends time with other dogs or cats who might be carrying them. If you live in a house full of animals, it is important to monitor all of the animals closely for ear mite infestation and treat them as needed to prevent the spread of ear mites.
Ear mites in dogs and puppies can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Ear scratching or rubbing. Dogs will often try to scratch their ears if they have an ear infection or other problems with their ears, so don’t solely base your diagnosis of ear mites based on this symptom.
- Red or inflamed ears that can bleed. These symptoms are often seen with a secondary bacterial infection, which makes it harder to treat the mite infestation as well. This is why it’s important to make sure you know what you are treating for and get effective treatment as soon as possible.
- Head shaking or tilting. This is another way dogs will try to relieve the irritation caused by ear mites in their ears. They will often shake their heads back and forth, so if they are doing it more frequently than normal you might want to take them to see your veterinarian for an ear exam. A head tilt could also be a symptom of other neurological conditions, so make sure you talk to your veterinarian before you take any sort of action.
- Crusty or scabby looking ears. This symptom is often accompanied by dark brown ear wax, which makes the dog’s ears look dirty and unkempt.
- Bad odor coming from their ears. If your dog has ear mites, they can smell pretty bad even if you can’t see the mites in their ears.
What is the life cycle of the ear mite
The life cycle of the ear mite includes four stages, including eggs, larvae, nymphs and adults. The adult female ear mite can lay about three to four eggs every day, so it doesn’t take her long to create a very large population in just a short amount of time.
During the first stage of the ear mite life cycle, they are in the egg form. They are oval-shaped and about 0.4 to 0.5 mm in length. Ear mites can survive for quite a long time without a host – six months or so – but once they find one, they hatch quickly and begin their life cycle.
The next stage of the ear mite life cycle is the larvae stage, and these look like tiny white worms. They don’t feed on blood, but instead eat skin cells that are found deep within your dog or cat’s ears.
The third stage of the ear mite life cycle is called nymphs, and it occurs as the larvae start to become adults. The nymphs are just smaller versions of the adult ear mite, which means that they have all of the same characteristics and functions as their parents do.
The fourth stage in the life cycle of an ear mite is called adulthood, when it reaches its full growth potential. At this point in the ear mite life cycle, they are just ready to reproduce and start the cycle again.
What Are the Treatment Options for Ear Mites in Dogs and Puppies?
It can be difficult to treat ear mite infestations because of the life cycle of the parasites. If your veterinarian uses an over-the-counter treatment, it normally takes several weeks before you can be sure it is gone.
Many of these ear mite treatments focus on the adult portion of the life cycle, so while they will get rid of a lot of parasites quickly, others survive and continue to reside in your pets ears. This is why it’s important for your dog to see their veterinarian if they have any concerns about their ears.
Once your veterinarian has determined whether or not your dog does have ear mites, they will move to the next step in the process which is determining whether or not your pet has a mild case of ear mites, or if their infection is excessive and needs to be treated with stronger medicine.
If your veterinarian determines that your dog just has a mild case of ear mites and that oral medication will do the trick, then they will prescribe you some medicine to give them that should kill the parasites. However, be aware that if your dog’s ear mites are excessive or advanced, it may actually take two courses of treatment to get rid of them completely.
If your pet has a more severe case of ear mites and continues to suffer from ongoing infections, you may need to seek out the guidance of a veterinary dermatologist.
How to Prevent Ear Mites
- There are many different preventive measures you can take including:
- Promoting good hygiene by cleaning your pet’s ears regularly.
- Keep all your pets living in the same house on the same preventative if at all possible.
- Keeping your pets away from stray animals.
- Be sure to treat all of your pets for parasites, especially if they are hunting dogs or outdoor pets. They are more likely to come into contact with other animals who might have the mites.
- You can also choose to use a preventative treatment for ear mites, such as those offered by veterinarians, which will keep the parasites from settling in your dog’s ears to begin with.