What are Ear Mites?
If you suspect that your pet may have ear mites, it’s important to talk to your vet and learn about what kind of health problems can ear mites cause for a dog. Ear mites are tiny parasitic mites that live on a host, typically a cat or dog. They thrive on the inner ear canals and cause havoc to the pet by inducing infections and other health problems. Many dogs are prone to ear mites, especially canines with longer, floppy ears. Ear mites survive in warm, moist areas that are limited to air flow. They burrow into the ear canal and feed on ear wax and epidermal debris. This act causes the ear to become inflamed and irritated and the body responds to the inflammation by producing excess wax.
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs
Signs and symptoms are usually apparent to dog owners once the mites begin to multiply and inflame the ears of the dog. Pet owners may notice that their dog is scratching his ears or shaking his head frequently. This is because ear mites in dogs cause extreme itchiness.
The dog’s ears may be painful or sore to the touch and the dog may cry, whine or pull back when the ears or surrounding areas on the head are touched or scratched. The dog may rub his head and/or ears against the ground to relieve itchiness or push their head against furniture. Pet owners may notice a foul smell coming from the ears. In more severe cases, the scratching may cause the ears to bleed due to broken blood vessels and build-up of hematomas.
Causes of Ear Mites in Dogs
Over 50 percent of all ear problems in dogs are caused by ear mites. For this reason, regular visits to the vet and checks by the pet owner should be maintained and treated if needed. There are three main causes of ear mites, including poor hygiene, transfer and an unclean environment. Poor hygiene is a major factor for causing ear mites as the parasitic bugs can live anywhere for long periods of time. Dogs should be groomed and bathed on a regular basis. Bathing should also be done after swimming or when returning from outdoors (with the exception of the backyard).
Ear mites are highly contagious and are easily transferred from pet to pet. Humans, however, are not susceptible to ear mites. If you suspect that your dog may have ear mites, keep it away from other dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and other animals and continue regular bathing until treatment is completed. Ear mites can live off the host for a period of time. This is why it’s important to clean the dog’s environment thoroughly to prevent re-infestation. Wash all bedding, carpets and furniture to prevent the mites from reproducing.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Ear Mites in Dogs
Pet owners can check at home for ear mites in their dog by lifting the infected ear. Many times you will see dark red, brown or black spots throughout the ear canal. These are commonly described as a coffee ground appearance.
Ear mites can be seen by the naked eye and typically appear as small white dots. They may be moving or at a standstill. Mites can be diagnosed by a vet who will use an otoscope to magnify the inside of the ear canal. Treatment typically includes an oily ear drop insecticide that is massaged in the dog’s ears. It’s important to follow all treatment instructions and continue to administer the medication as directed by your vet.
Short and Long Term Effects of Ear Mites in Dogs
If treated quickly, the ear mites will not have any major effects on the dog or ears and any mild inflammation or pain will subside. However, in long term cases, more severe consequences to the dog’s health may present themselves. Consistent irritation in the ear canal can cause it to thicken. Mite waste, fluid, dead tissue and other debris begins to build-up in the ear.
In chronic cases of ear mites, a secondary yeast infection or bacteria infection occurs. These types of infections are usually more difficult to treat and can cause exceptional stress on the dog. If ear mites in the dog are left untreated, penetration of the ear drum and severe middle ear disorders can occur and lead to more health problems. In severe cases, the animal begins to loose all sense of balance, suffer other physical signs and may even become disoriented.
Importance of Regular Vet Care for Your Dog
The above explained the basics of what kind of health problems can ear mites cause for a dog. Although ear mites are an extremely common condition that affects many dogs and cats, they can still be dangerous and harmful to your pet if not properly diagnosed and treated. Regular vet care is very important and these types of conditions can be prevented or treated quickly when you leave your dog’s health in the hands of a professional.