Before we start talking about ear mites in dogs and how the nasty little parasites can affect your beloved little pet we need to go into a little detail about the area that they live, feed and cause the frantic itching i.e. the ear canal.
Leading from the middle ear and the ear drum is the horizontal and then vertical ear canal. This delicate tubular cartilage will produce a waxy material with some breeds also having hair present in the canal.
It is quite common for wax to build up and it is very important that the area is kept as clean and wax free as possible. Breeds with hair in this area may need the hair to be plucked as this can also reduce air circulation leading the possibility of infection. Breeds with floppy ears (where air circulation is more problematic) are more prone to ‘Canker’ also known as External Otitis.
If your pooch develops a really bad case of Canker then the ridges may become so blocked that they start to rub together causing ulcers. If you need to pluck your pets ear hair or clear any wax or debris it is very important that you speak to a vet as they will explain exactly how to do it without injuring your pooch.
If you own a dog that has erect ears (rather than droopy floppy ears) there is less chance of bacteria developing (and therefore infection) as they dry out easily and air is able to circulate freely.
If your pooch has developed External Otitis he or she will probably scratch and rub at the affected area or shake his or her head or hold the head tilted to one side. The ear will be painful when touched and there might be a waxy discharge or smell coming from the infected area.
The Basics Of Ear Mites In Dogs
These horrible little parasites are also known as Otodectic Mange. These tiny insects live inside the ear canal where they attach themselves to the skin and suck the blood. Ear mites in dogs and puppies are highly contagious among pets (so they can infest all of the pets in the property – however humans are not susceptible to the parasites.
If your dog or puppy has developed what appears to be an ear infection (with both ears infected) then you should assume that your pooch has an infestation. It is also important to mention that Otodectic Mange is different to Sarcoptic and Demodectic Mange.
Symptoms Of Ear Mites In Dogs & Puppies
The most common symptoms of this condition will involve your dog or puppy frantically itching and scratching at both ears (this is because your pooch will develop a severe hypersensitivity to the bites and infestation). Your pet may also shake his or her head violently with the ear flaps becoming inflamed, red, crusty and scabby. It is also common for the ear canals to become smelly with secondary infections occurring as a result of the mites.
To determine whether your pooch has been infested with ear mites the vet will normally remove a small specimen of wax that will be examined closely. The tiny parasites are about the size of a small pin head (they are colored white and will be moving when examined).
Treatment For Ear Mites In Dogs
The normal treatment for this condition will involve treating all of the pets in the Household as it is quite likely that all of your animals will be infected. The vet will start by examining deep inside your pooches ear using an Otoscope. This will determine whether the ear canal is dirty, filled with debris, wax or infected. The ear will then need to be cleaned (your dog might need to be sedated). It is vital that the ears are cleaned properly as the mites can easily be hidden behind any wax or debris making them very hard to kill.
The vet will start cleaning the inside of the ear (deep inside the canal) by using cleaning solutions, a syringe, a curette and cotton buds. By cleaning the ear thoroughly the parasites have nowhere to hide and any medication can have direct contact.
Medication used to kill ear mites in dogs and puppies will normally involve using a miticide medicated preparation (it is common for these medicated preparations to contain thiabendazole and pyrethrins). Common types can include Acarex, Mitox, Nolvamite and Cerumite.
Tresaderm will also sometimes be prescribed as it not only contains miticide, an antibiotic and steroids that will alleviate some of the frantic itching that the mites can cause.
It is not uncommon for Revolution (normally used to control fleas) and Ivermectin prescribed to get rid of ear mites in dogs.
If you are treating an infestation it is vital that you complete the entire course of treatment recommended by your vet otherwise the mites can continue to multiply causing more problems.
When treating ear mites in dogs and puppies they can sometimes escape from the ear and cause problems i.e. itching on other areas of your dog’s body. Therefore it is important that your dog’s entire body is treated with a pyrethrin based powder or shampoo.