Ear mites are insects that live inside the ear canal but can also be found on the skin. They are like ticks in that they can only survive for a very limited time without a host to live on.
How Do Dogs Get Ear Mites?
Ear mites are contagious and move very quickly. Common causes of infection include:
- Dogs sleeping or playing together
- Contact with infected objects: Grooming equipment, brushes and even cages can also serve as a source for infection.
- Being outdoors: Meeting stray cats or infected wildlife like foxes can lead to an ear mite infection.
- Owning a cat: cats get ear mites easily, especially those that have access to the outside.
Be aware that these symptoms are common for many parasitic infections, so before starting any sort of treatment book an appointment with us to rule out other possible conditions.
- Head shaking or scratching at the ear.
- Dark brown discharge from the affected ear
- Strong odor
- Cuts or hair loss above the eyes or around the ear
Because ear mites often trigger a secondary infection in the ear canal, your veterinarian will likely focus on eliminating the mites and treating the infection by:
- Thoroughly cleaning and flushing the ears.
- Applying ear medication to treat the secondary ear infection, typically in the form of medicated drops that need to be applied daily at home, or a one-time dose applied in the clinic that lasts 30 days.
- We will remind you to thoroughly wash all bedding and soft fabrics your dog regularly lies on and check your dog’s ears on a biweekly basis for redness, irritation and other signs of ear mites.
- For dogs that get groomed, check with your groomer to make sure they are disinfecting and maintaining their equipment.
- Also, because mites are so contagious, your other pets need to be examined and treated.