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Ear Mites


Dog Ear Mites

How Dogs get Ear Mites

Ear Mites are usually spread from one infected animal to another directly of through bedding. Fortunately, they are not contagious to people, because they cannot live very long on the skin of humans.

Prevention of Ear Mites

The best way to prevent a dog from becoming infested by ear mites is to prevent it from coming into contact with affected animals. If one dog (or cat, rabbit or ferret) in a household has ear mites, it should be treated vigilantly and isolated from the other pets, in an attempt to prevent them from becoming infested as well. The other animals, and the living environment, should also be treated as a precaution, even if they have not yet developed symptoms of ear mites. Any treatment should be done in accordance with a veterinarian’s specific directions.

Special Notes

While people almost never become infested with Otodectes mites, there is some zoonotic potential. Ear mites will bite people. When they do, they cause a transient rash of raised red bumps, called “papular dermatitis,” which usually develops on the arms of people who come into close contact with infested dogs.

A dog’s ears can become permanently damaged if ear mites are not treated in a timely manner. Over-the-counter ear mite remedies are available. However, the symptoms of ear mites often mimic those of other ear problems. Accordingly, it is important for owners to get a positive diagnosis of ear mites before starting any treatment for the condition.

Symptoms of Ear Mite Infestation

Owners of dogs suffering from ear mites normally notice one or more of the following signs:
•Irritation of the external ears (intense; usually both ears are affected)
•Itchiness (pruritis) in and around the ears, head and neck (intense)
•Scratching at the ears, head and neck (intense; constant; frantic)
•Rubbing the ears on the ground/floor
•Rubbing the ears with the paws
•Head-shaking (violent; persistent)
•Hair loss (alopecia) around the ears
•Red ear flaps (outer and inner)
•Ear flaps that are thickened, brown-to-black, crusted, scabbed, bleeding, oozing
•Waxy exudate in the ear canals (thick, dry, crumbly, dark; resembling coffee grounds)
•Unpleasant, smelly (malodorous) ear discharge (most common with secondary bacterial infection)
•Itchiness (pruritis) on the neck, rump and tail (intense)
•Scratching at the neck, rump and tail (intense)

If left untreated, the constant scratching caused by ear mite infestation can lead to weeping open sores that are prime sites for secondary bacterial infections. Self-mutilation increases the likelihood of infections or other damage to the middle ear, such as otitis media. Repetitive head-shaking can cause hematomas to develop at the ends of the ear flaps. Hematomas are localized, pouch-like accumulations or pockets of blood that can be difficult to treat. Continuously swollen, infected ears can also contribute to hearing loss. Ear mites should be suspected whenever both of a dog’s ears are affected.

Dogs at Increased Risk

Ear mites can occur in dogs of any age, breed, mixed breed or gender. However, they tend to be more common in puppies and young adult animals. Dogs kept in crowded, unsanitary conditions are more likely to “catch” ear mites from nearby dogs or from shared bedding.

Ear Mites

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