While there are several kinds of mites that can live in your cat or dog's ears, “ear mites” usually refers to a specific type, Otodectes cynotis (an infestation with this mite is called “otodectic mange”). These nearly microscopic parasites can live deep inside the ear canal or on the more external portions of the ears. Their life cycle lasts approximately 4 weeks and they feed primarily on wax, oil, and skin debris. Ear mites typically cause inflammation and irritation, but significant damage to the ear and secondary infections may occur if left untreated. If your pup scratches hard enough they may also rupture blood vessels inside their ear flap, a condition known as aural hematoma. Surgery is usually required if this occurs.
How Do Pets Get Ear Mites
Ear mites are spread by contact with other animals infested with ear mites. Unfortunately, these parasites are extremely contagious, especially in younger cats and dogs. If your pet has been around other animals with ear mites, chances are they now have them, too.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Ear Mites
The following signs and symptoms are common with ear mite infestation:
Frequent shaking of the head
Frequent scratching near the ears, neck and head
Black or red crusts on the outer ear
Abrasions on or around the ear
Dark, waxy discharge
What to Do if Your Pet Has Ear Mites
Because ear mites can be easily confused with common ear infections, it’s advisable to visit a veterinarian if you suspect ear mite infestation. As with any pest issue, prevention is always the preferred route as far as treatments go. Regular ear cleanings (monthly or bi-monthly) can help prevent ear mites, as can naturally sourced bug repellents applied before and after potential points of exposure—in other words, any time your pet is in contact with other animals.
From medications to natural alternatives and home remedies, there are several ways to approach the treatment of ear mites. Before attempting any treatments on your own, please consult your vet to see what options are right for you and your pet.
Advice for Cedarcide Customers
Here's a tip we often give Cedarcide customers to help control ear mites: Dab a cotton ball with Cedarcide Original and gently massage it throughout your cat or dog’s ear. Make sure to treat both the ear and the ear flap, but be careful not to treat down into the ear canal, as Cedarcide Original is not recommended for internal use. Do not spray directly into ears.
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