Dog Ear Mites - Causes, Signs, and Prevention
Scratching, itching, whining, oh my! For your dog, ear mites are a bit like an annoying friend that never seems to leave. These extremely common parasites can be really bothersome for your pup, and we’re gonna tell you everything you need to know about treating and preventing them.
Part of what makes ear mites so difficult to control is that they are highly contagious. Even brushing up against Mrs. Meowstein, your neighbors cat, can be enough to infect your precious pup. Other dogs, cats, and even horses are frequently carriers of ear mites, and once your dog is infected, you need to act quickly in order to treat the problem and prevent any serious long term damage or secondary infections. But before we get to treatment, let’s take a closer look at the symptoms your dog may experience if suffering from ear mites.
Signs of Dog Ear Mites
Dog ear mites can live comfortably inside of your dog’s ear canal. They thrive on dirty dog ears by feeding on wax and oils that are located inside. Pretty gross huh? If you want to see something really gross, and be absolutely certain of an infestation, go ahead and pull out a nice chunk of wax and drop it onto a white piece of paper or napkin. Now pull out the magnifying glass Sherlock Holme’s because you are about to investigate. If you notice that the wax is dark, and has lots of white or light colored specks inside it, you are looking at a full fledged ear mite attack. The most common form of dog ear mites is Otodectes cynotis, and they are eight legged freaks. These guys spread really quickly by laying tons of eggs (among other things) inside of your dogs ears. You won’t be able to hear anything unusual coming from the ears of your dog, but who knows if old Sparky can…
Although checking the wax to see if there is a might infestation is a strongly recommended secondary step, we can’t expect you to do that on a regular basis. Instead, you will need to learn to look for the more obvious external signs that your dog is having an ear problem.
Some common signs of an ear mite infestation include:
- Frequent and intense scratching of the ears, neck or head
- Constant head shaking
- Deep brown, dark red or black crust inside the ear
- Any bumps or scratches in and around the ear
These warning signs are serious, and if left untreated, ear mites can lead your dog to inadvertently injuring themselves, their ear drums, and your furniture. Make sure to pay attention when you think your dog is just playing around on the carpet or couch, that they are not trying to tell you something. Oftentimes, dog owners will see their young pup running their head along the carpet and think it is a game, but the truth is that it might be a cry for help. But how can you help? What is a measly old human to do to fight off a microscopic insect that can reproduce a whole lot more than we can?
Getting Rid of Dog Ear Mites
Permanently getting rid of ear mites from your home can be tough if you have many animals. In fact, it can be tough no matter what. The best course of action is to do your best to get your dog healthy as quickly as possible, then take regular, preventative measures to make sure these nasty little buggers don’t create any more problems for your lovable pup. Oh, and don’t worry, while serious and prolonged infections should be examined by a veterinarian, most cases of ear mites can be treated at home. If your dog is experiencing bloody ears, or you are unable to touch your dogs ears because of serious sensitivity, then you will need to go to a veterinarian. The vet will perform a full examination including blood work and urinalysis. They will also take a dermatological sample as well as ear swabs with a mineral test just to confirm that your dog does not have any diseases. After seeing the vet, paying the large lump sum, and hearing what you already knew, the treatment will be up to you.
In extreme cases, a chemical parasiticide will be prescribed by the vet, but for most cases, an ear cleaner that is specially formulated for dogs should work just fine. At Petpost, we always hope to avoid putting chemicals or parasiticides into the bodies of our dogs or the earth, so we recommend looking for a natural way to treat the infestation and keep your pup healthy, happy, and free!
Coconut oil extracts can be a very powerful and natural cleanser that remove the dirt and wax that ear mites thrive on, so hitting those nasty mites with a serious cleaning session with our coconut oil based dog ear cleaner is certain to help the process. Ear mites are resilient, so giving your dog a cleaning every day for a week should wash them away and get your furry friend back to feeling himself. After a week of daily treatments, switch to weekly maintenance cleanings to make sure they don’t bother Sparky ever again.
During the initial week of cleanings, you will want to wash down your whole house, particularly you will want to keep washing the areas where your dog hangs out. Of course take special care to sanitize the pet bedding, blankets, and toy. Even though ear mites are not able to survive more than a few days outside of an animals ear, it is important to keep the home very clean to prevent re-infestation. Additionally, it is a good idea to keep all feeding and water bowls cleaned and sterilized.
You can read the great article we wrote on How to Clean Dogs' Ears to learn ever more about the process!
So that’s it, now you know everything there is to know about dog ear mites! You’re an expert in our eyes!
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