What Causes Ear Mites in Dogs?
Category_Dog Knowledge

What Causes Ear Mites in Dogs?

by Andrew Ehlert

Ear mites are a distressing problem for dogs and other animals such as cats, ferrets, and rabbits. The ear mite quickly spreads from animal to animal, so ear mite infestation is a contagious condition.

Ear mites are truly tiny, but if you could see them, you’d notice they look like minuscule spiders. These characteristics make sense, as the parasites fall within the arachnid family. The most common ear mites in dogs are called Otodectes cynotis.

But what causes ear mites in dogs? After all, you want to know the cause so you can prevent your canine from dealing with this problem.

What Are Ear Mites?

Otodectes cynotis is generally the most common type of ear mite to affect dogs. These parasites like to live in animal ears because they hold their favorite food source: ear oil and wax. There is another kind of ear mite, too, called the Demodex mite. However, this is much less common because healthy pet immune systems usually have enough resistance against it.

Demodex mites tend to spend their time outside the dog’s ear, in the oil glands and hair follicles in that area, while Otodectes cynotis live in the dog’s ear canal.

Why Do Dogs Get Ear Mites?

Ear mite infestations are contagious. In other words, if another animal close to your dog has ear mites, your dog may also end up with them too. Other dogs, cats, ferrets, and rabbits, can be carriers of ear mites. Dogs may also get ear mites from being in some outdoor regions, such as rural and wooded environments.

If another pet in your household has ear mites, your dog is likely to catch them. This consideration is especially true if your dog snuggles or sleeps with the infected pet. Puppies tend to be more susceptible to ear mites overall. That is because they don’t have the natural resistance an adult dog might have.

Symptoms of Ear Mites In Dogs?

Several symptoms will indicate whether your dog has an ear mite infestation. Keep an eye out for any of these symptoms to determine whether your dog might have ear mites:

  • Reddish-brown discharge with a crumbly texture
  • Inflammation
  • Irritation
  • Itching
  • Scratches and cuts
  • Foul odor
  • Behavioral changes, such as constant scratching and agitation

When ear mite infestations are left untreated, they can lead to severe consequences. Ear infections caused by ear mite infestations are common. In some cases, the infestation may even spread to other areas of your pet’s body.

Ear mites are minuscule creatures. You probably won’t be able to see them when examining your dog’s ears. But you should watch out for the symptoms of an infestation. One of the most important signs is the discharge they cause, which sometimes looks a bit like coffee grounds.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Dogs

One of the most important steps you can take to prevent ear mites is to clean your pet’s ears frequently. Not only is this important in itself, but it also makes you more likely to detect your dog has an ear mite infestation before there are severe consequences.

It’s common for pets to catch ear mites if they come in contact with stray animals. For example, your dog could catch ear mites if they came in close contact with a stray cat in the neighborhood. Stay aware of this when coming up with your ear mite prevention plans.

Prevent your dog from coming in contact with any animals that you suspect may have an infestation. You should also wash your pet’s toys and bedding in hot water regularly.

How to Treat Ear Mites

Bring your dog to the veterinarian to get their ear mite infestation diagnosed. A vet will know how to treat this problem in the right way. Do this as soon as possible. You don’t want your dog to end up with infections and other potential issues due to neglect in treating ear mites.

If your vet diagnoses your dog with an ear mite infection, your dog will have to receive treatment. As an expert, the veterinarian will know which treatment will be most effective. First, the vet or veterinary assistant will have to clean the ear and ear canal thoroughly.

After that, your pet will need medication. There are different medication options, including topical products, oral pills, and even injections. In most cases, dogs respond well to ear mite treatment. Your pet will probably recover quickly. If the ear mites have led to an ear infection for your dog, treatment should start right away.

Is It Possible To Prevent Ear Mites From Impacting My Pet?

There are a few different medications that can treat ear mites for dogs or cats but it is also important to learn how to prevent them in the first place. The first recommendation is to follow your veterinarian's advice for routine flea and tick medication. This can come in many different forms but it is used to prevent fleas, ticks, and other insects such as mites from latching onto your dog. This type of medication can help keep your dog safe from ear mites.

Along with using the recommended medications, it is important to keep your dog clean in order to keep them healthy. It is recommended to bathe your dog on a routine basis and to make sure to clean their ears as well. You can use a wet towel, warm water, and gentle shampoo to gently clean your dog's ears.

If your dog is suffering from ear mites or other irritations it is possible that they will begin scratching their ears so much that it can cause open wounds on their skin. Open wounds that aren't cleaned and taken care of can cause further health issues for your dog so it is important to keep an eye on this.

Dog Ear Infections

Ear mites may lead to a bacterial ear infection because of the irritation they cause and the fact your pet is constantly scratching. The resulting wounds may become infected by bacteria. Making the risk worse is that dogs are generally at higher risk of ear infections than we are because of their ear canal structure.

There is some overlap between the symptoms of ear mites and an ear infection. If there is irritation, redness, or unpleasant discharge in your dog’s ears, don’t assume that it’s ear mites. There may be an infection that needs immediate attention and antibiotic treatment to preserve your dog’s health.

Keep Your Dog Safe From Ear Mites

Ear mite infestations are a common occurrence in dogs, but they can have serious consequences. When your dog has ear mites, they will be distressed and uncomfortable. You will notice your pet scratching frequently and pawing at their face. You may also see a reddish-brown discharge in their ears.

Bring your dog to a veterinarian if you suspect they might have an ear mite infestation. If left untreated, these infestations can lead to severe infections. Of course, an infection may have severe implications, such as damage to your dog’s ear and hearing.

As a dog owner, you must stay aware of ear mites and the threat they pose to your pet’s health and well-being. Keep an eye out for ear mite symptoms whenever you clean your canine companion’s ears.

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