Dogs are bug magnets -something that dog owners know too well. And while all of these tiny critters are nasty, it can be argued that ear mites are the nastiest of them all. They aren’t just gross, either – they can cause some damage. Thankfully, they can be treated.
An Up-Close Look at Ear Mites
While there are several bugs that can claim the designation of ear mites, the most common bugs that fit the ear mite description are minuscule parasites called Otodectes cynotis. These critters typically have a three-week life cycle and feast on the oils and wax located in a dog’s ear canal. You won’t see them unless you get a good look in your dog’s ear, but they are unmistakably icky when you do see them.
The Problems that Ear Mites Can Cause for your Dog
Ear mites aren’t just gross – they can do some potential damage to your pooch. At one end of the spectrum, they can cause inflammation and irritation in your dog’s ear. At the other end of the spectrum, the presence of ear mites could lead to some pretty serious skin or ear infections if the bugs are left to fester.
What’s more, they are highly contagious critters. Ear mites can not only pass from dog to dog, but they can also be passed from different pet species to different pet species. Puppies, in particular, are susceptible to ear mites.
Does Your Dog Have Ear Mites? Symptoms to Look Out For
There are several visible symptoms that you can keep an eye out for to help you determine whether or not your dog has ear mites. Your first clue could come just by observing your dog’s behavior. If you notice that he is shaking his head or rubbing and scratching his ears excessively, you may want to go in for a closer look.
When you do, you will want to keep an eye out for some visual signs. Some of these signs include the presence of a deep brown or black waxy secretion from the ears, inflammation, and a coffee-ground like bumps creating an obstruction in his ear canal. You may also want to take a whiff when you’re up close, as the presence of the ear mites can be accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor.
My Dog Looks Like He Has Ear Mites – How Can I Help Him?
If you suspect your dog has ear mites, the first step you should take is to get him over to your vet for a full physical exam. This will help you rule out any other potential diseases or illnesses your dog may have. When you do pay your vet a visit, you’ll want to let him know if your dog has any routine contact with other animals since the condition is highly contagious.
If it is confirmed that your dog has ear mites, your vet will treat your dog with prescribed medication. Typically, this medication can be applied in the ear or on the skin. Your vet may also prescribe an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication to quell the infection.
If your dog has a lot of debris built up in his ear, your veterinarian may perform a gentle cleaning. Your dog may not be in the best of moods during this part of the procedure since the vet will be dealing with an area that is giving him some discomfort. Lucky for him, he should start to feel relief from ear mite troubles soon after the treatment for the condition commences.
Prevent Ear Mites From Coming Back
In the aftermath of this condition, it’s important that you remain proactive with your dog to potentially halt a return to the infection. It’s wise to clean your dog’s ears on a monthly basis to make them less inhabitable for bugs. You should also give his bedding a consistent cleaning to further inhibit an attractive environment for bugs.
Taking these preventative measures won’t guarantee that your dog will never get another infection -remember, ear mites are highly contagious. However, they will lower the risk of your dog having to go through this painful ordeal again. And really, that should be more than enough of a motivator for you administer proper care.