Symptoms, Causes and Treatments for Ear Mites

A brown and white Jack Russell has his ears examined for ear mites.

When it comes to being a pet parent, dealing with parasites and pests is par for the course. Some pet owners may never experience an issue with parasites, while others deal with yearly bouts of one thing or another. Ear mites are a common example of a parasite that can cause problems for pets. Dealing with them takes a bit of patience and regular attention. Let’s have a look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments for ear mites in your pet.

Causes For Ear Mites

Ear mites are typically found only in outside environments and places with poor hygiene and high stress. Animal shelters, pet stores, and other high-stress, high-traffic locations are perfect examples of this kind of environment. In most situations, ear mites go for young puppies or kittens, especially those found in shelters or pet stores. Older animals have a natural defense against ear mites that decreases the chances of them contracting these pesky parasites. They are not immune, however, and can still be at risk under the right conditions.

Symptoms of Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny little spider-like creatures that live on the surface or just under the skin of the infected host. Ear infections are caused by two specific species of mites – Otodectes and Notoedres. Otodectes are responsible for infection in both dogs and cats (as well as other animals like foxes and ferrets). Notoedres usually infect a cats body and sometimes ears.

Ear mites cause intense itching, inflammation, redness, scabbing, discharges, and more. Some of the symptoms of an ear mite infestation you may notice are:

  • Excessive scratching or rubbing the ears and ear area
  • Hair loss around the ear area
  • Excessive head shaking
  • Waxy secretions from the infected ear (often back or brown in color)
  • Inflammation, redness, or swelling of the ear
  • A coffee-grounds-esque substance obstructing the ear canal
  • Offensive odor
  • Dermatitis
  • Scratches, cuts, and scabs around the area

If you notice any of these common symptoms of an ear mite infection, take action immediately.

Treatment For Ear Mites

The first step in any treatment plan for your pet is to reach out to your vet right away. Not all things are as they seem when it comes to pet health and having a vet administer a full wellness exam can uncover more than just an ear infection. Sometimes a compromised immune system or underlying allergy issue allowed the infestation to happen in the first place, or is causing symptoms that look like ear mites, but could be something else altogether.

Treating an ear infection caused by ear mites is fairly straightforward. As long as you follow the directions your vet gives you regarding how to administer the medication your pet should experience relief in as little as a few hours.

Using cotton swabs, make sure to clean all debris from the infected ear before providing the medication. The meds can only kill the mites it comes into contact with and thus requires you to clean the area well. Be careful not to lodge material deeper into the ear canal during the cleaning process as this will only create more complications.

Once the medication is administered, leave it for about seven days. This gives the resistant eggs a chance to hatch before the second dose around the seventh day. You can then visit the vet for a thorough overview after another week or so to make sure you effectively treated the area.

Final Thoughts

Once you have a thorough overview of the symptoms, causes, and treatments for ear mites you can be prepared to take care of them if they arise. Quickly caring for any infection is always the best course of action. Stopping by our office is always a great choice as well. We are always available and ready to take on your pet’s health complications alongside you so you can rest assured your furry friend will be okay. Reach out today if you suspect your pet is having a health issue. Remember, the sooner you get your pet treated, the better.