Ear mites. Ew just their name makes me cringe. More than having bugs crawling on your scalp, think about an infestation inside ear canal! YUCK.
Scientifically called Otodectes Cynotis, these eight legged parasites are tiny insects that feed off of the wax and oils by piercing the skin in the ear. They have a lifespan of three weeks and live inside the ear canal. They are contagious to cats and dogs, but luckily not humans. Thank goodness because I bet most OCD dog owners wouldn’t be able to handle it if they thought they could catch the ear mites too. Young dogs and puppies and/or dogs with floppy ears are most susceptible to ear mites. Floppy ears or ears full of fur are easy for mites to live in because the lack of air flow creates favorable conditions for bacterial growth.
Also known as Otodectic Mange, these insects are tiny, about the size of a head of a pin, and they are white. Therefore they would be quite difficult to see to the naked eye, but their residue is more noticeable. Not only would your dog’s ears have a bad odor caused from the infection, you would also notice a waxy but dry and crumbly, dark brown discharge oozing out of the canal. It would look almost look like coffee grinds, but trust me Fido wasn’t just looking for a morning “pick me up” cup of Folgers. If you wanted to actually see an ear mite you would have to take a cotton swab and swipe up some of that lovely ear wax, hold it under a microscope against a black background, pretend to be a scientist and witness the little white devils in action.
Symptoms of Ear Mites to Look For
Along with the oh-so-lovely looking ooze seeping out of your pups ear canals you will notice the ear flaps looking a little sketchy. They will be red, crusted, and scabbed. You will definitely be able to tell that your pet is in pain. Ear mites are not to be confused with mites that cause sarcoptic mange because they also can include crusty ear tips. (Saracoptic Mange, or Scabies, involves the entire body and will cause your dog to scratch intensely all over. They are spider like mites that are highly contagious even to humans. They are mot transmitted through grooming equipment and kennels). When both ears are involved suspect ear mites. You will notice excessive scratching and head shaking. If this head shaking is too intense your pup may pop a blood vessel in his head. He will whine in pain, especially when ears are touched, and he may walk with his head leaned to the painful side.
If diagnosed with ear mites Fido will be treated for external otitis, a fancy name for an ear canal infection. The waxy debris and dirt inside the ears give the ear mites a shelter and it is difficult tot destroy them if this type of treatment does not occur. Your vet will definitely help you and instruct you on the process of healing Fido. After cleaning the ears you will probably be prescribed one of the following miticides ear preparations: Nolvamite, Cerumite, Mitox, Acarex, or Tresaderm. Most of these contain pyrethrins and thiabendazole and some have steroids to relieve itching.
Ear Mites in English, Please
Okay, I know I just threw a bunch of names and words at you and probably took longer reading those sentences than the whole rest of the article combined. I wish I could have heard you sound like a third grader trying to sound them out. I also know that reading instructions these days is a foreign concept, but all the manufacturers’ give us normal people instructions for how to use the treatments on the back of the box. Revolution, a flea control product, is also approved for mites and Invermectin should be used on touch cases. Be sure to treat all dogs and cats that the problem pet has come in contact with. Even household bunnies or ferrets should be treated. Be sure to complete the entire treatment process to make sure that the the eggs laid won’t hatch and reinfest your dogs. Leaving you stuck doing this whole thing over again. You should also treat him and all animals in contact with him weekly for four weeks with a pyrethrins based shampoo or flea powder.
Ear mites are no fun for anyone but we must take action when we notice our pups in pain!