Earmites in Dogs!

Gram and I are doing our usual thing, talking about the world in general and discussing dog problems. I have been very fortunate as a dog because my Mom and Gram are always on their toes concerning the health of me and my roommie, Walter. We are very healthy dogs with no problems, well, Walter has plenty, but I won't go into that now.

However we started talking about ear mites and thought you might be interested in learning about them.

In the world of dogs, ear mites at best create a whole lot of discomfort. At worst, if not treated can lead to deafness or impaired hearing.

What are ear mites? Ear mites are microscopic insects known in the entomologic circles as Otodectes cynotis. They are very tiny, but once they make themselves at home in your dog or cat, they can cause gigantic problems.

Ear mites are more apt to find homes in cats, but dogs come in as a close second. They not only can live in a dog’s ears, but on the skin also and can cause problems there, too. For a long time it was thought that the mites could not live outside of the “host dog or cat.” but it has been proven that they can live for a period of time off a pet.

It takes about 3 weeks for an egg to develop into an adult mite. They are very mobile and if you have other pets it will not take long for all of them to become infected. Since it is now known that they can live “off the pet” it becomes necessary to make certain all bedding and other areas where the pet lies are washed or cleaned.

What are the symptoms of ear mites? First of all the most obvious symptom is your dog is constantly scratching at its ears. The second most obvious symptom is head shaking, it will look like your dog is trying to shake something out of his ears and of course it will not be able to.

A foul smell and a sign of dark brown/black waxy substance in the ear are another sign that ear mites have moved in. Ear mites are so small that sometimes they are not possible to see with the naked human eye.

It is very important that if you “think” your dog/cat has ear mites that you contact your vet at once. Even though there are over-the-counter treatments available there are other ear infections that could be causing your dog to scratch its ears.

What are the long-term problems for ear mites? If ear mites are not properly treated far more serious problems can occur. Untreated ear mite infestations can lead to impaired hearing and even deafness. Skin problems caused by the dog’s incessant scratching can cause secondary and potentially serious bacterial and fungal infections.

What is the standard treatment for ear mites? First of all a through cleaning of the ear is necessary to rid the ear of wax and debris in order to make a clean entry way for the medication to get to the mites.

Generally once diagnosed as ear mites, the treatment can be done at home, once the owner has received instructions from the vet. There are many remedies available in the market place that are effective. Even an old-time remedy of using a few drops of baby oil has proven effective. The main thing is the ear needs to be thoroughly cleaned, in order for any medication to be effective and your vet should do the cleaning.

What are the precautions you should take to prevent ear mites? Oddly enough the monthly flea products that are on the market will help prevent ear mites providing they are used regularly.

Avoid contact with stray dogs, especially ones that seem to be dirty and unkept as ear mites are easily transferred from one dog to another.

Since cats are the worst offenders, be certain when introducing a new cat to your household you have it checked for ears mites first.

Doing a weekly or semi-weekly check on your dog’s overall coat, teeth and ears will help prevent many problems. It will give you an opportunity to discover any new developments in those areas and you can get your pet immediate treatment or at least be aware of the changes and keep track of them.

Just remember ear mites can be treated effectively and early treatment will prevent many other problems.