Does your furry friend constantly shake their head and scratch their ears? It could be a sign of ear mites. While yeast and bacteria are common culprits of ear infections in dogs, these tiny parasites can cause similar symptoms. In this article, we’ll explore how dogs get ear mites, how to eliminate them, and what you can do to prevent future infestations. So let’s dive in and keep those ears mite-free!
What Are Ear Mites in Dogs?
Ear mites are pesky parasites that thrive on skin oils, ear wax, and other materials found in and around a dog’s ears. Despite their size, these mites can cause significant discomfort and irritation for your furry companion. It’s worth noting that ear mites in dogs are related to ticks and spiders, as they all belong to the arachnid family. The most common type of ear mite in dogs is called otodectes cynotis.
How Do Dogs Get Ear Mites?
Kittens usually bear the brunt of ear mite infestations, but our precious canines are not exempt. Ear mites are highly contagious, easily spreading between cats, dogs, and even ferrets. Therefore, your pets can contract these mites by coming into contact with other animals that are infested. Puppies, kittens, and pets with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to ear mite infestations compared to adult pets with a healthier immune system.
Signs Your Dog Has Ear Mites
As a vigilant pet parent, you may notice two common signs that indicate your dog has ear mites: head shaking and scratching of the ears and head. Other signs to look out for include discharge around the ears resembling coffee grounds, red and swollen skin in and around the ears, and hot spots or open sores resulting from excessive scratching. Keep in mind that these symptoms are also associated with other ear problems such as yeast and bacterial infections. It’s essential to consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if you suspect your dog has an ear infection.
What Do Dog Ear Mites Look Like?
Ear mites are microscopic creatures, making them barely visible to the naked eye. However, you can increase your chances of spotting them by taking a piece of debris from your dog’s ear, placing it on a dark, well-lit surface, and examining it with a magnifying glass or a video that you can enlarge. Under these conditions, ear mites will appear as tiny, white moving specks. Veterinarians can easily identify them using a microscope or an otoscope, a handheld device similar to a flashlight used to examine the ears.
Ear Mite Treatment for Dogs
For effective and safe treatment, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. They will confirm if ear mites are indeed the cause of your dog’s symptoms by examining their ear canals with an otoscope or studying a sample of ear debris under a microscope. Once diagnosed, your veterinarian will discuss suitable treatment options.
Treatment for ear mites may include a thorough cleaning at the vet’s office, as well as prescription ear drops and medications such as Revolution, Advantage Multi, Simparica, and Bravecto. In some cases, Ivermectin injections may be necessary. Depending on your veterinarian’s recommendation, they may be able to perform all the necessary treatments during a single visit, or they may prescribe a treatment plan for home use.
Home Remedies for Ear Mites in Dogs
For less severe cases, you might consider treating ear mites at home using over-the-counter ear drops. Look for products containing “pyrethrins” as an active ingredient and carefully follow the instructions on the label. ADAMS Medication for Ear Mites for Dogs & Cats is one example, which contains effective concentrations of pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide, although some dogs may have a slight skin reaction to pyrethrins. Be cautious when using these products on dogs under 12 weeks of age.
Another option is Tresaderm Topical Solution for Dogs & Cats, but it requires administering drops into your dog’s ears twice daily for two to three weeks, which can be more labor-intensive. Always follow the dosing instructions based on your pet’s weight provided on the product packaging and consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
In addition to using ear drops, regular cleaning of your dog’s ears is important. If at-home treatment does not yield satisfactory results, it’s advisable to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
How to Prevent Ear Mites in Dogs
Prevention is key! The easiest way to safeguard your dog against ear mites is by routinely using a flea preventive that also targets ear mites. Revolution (selamectin) is one such product, but veterinarians can prescribe medications with other active ingredients like moxidectin, fluralaner, and afoxolaner. Many of these products offer protection against multiple parasites, including fleas, roundworms, and hookworms.
If you’re unsure about the most suitable preventive option for your dog, consult your veterinarian, who can guide you based on your dog’s specific risk factors. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss your overall parasite prevention strategy. With proper treatment and preventive measures, your furry companion should soon be feeling like their usual playful self.