If you are a dog owner, you’ll probably have to deal with ear mites at least once, and probably more than once, during your dogs lifetime, since ear mites in dogs are fairly common. These tiny parasites are barely noticeable by the naked eye and resemble small crabs. They like to hang around in your dog’s ear canals where they feed on fluids and debris from the ear tissue.
Although one ear mite is not that noticeable, they do multiply like crazy. If your dog has one, he probably has dozens, maybe even hundreds. Although the ear mites themselves are white, the presence of them leaves a black discharge in the ear that looks almost like dirt. As you can imagine, they make your pets ears rather itchy so if you see him shaking or scratching his ears then take him to a vet to see if the cause is ear mites.
Ear mites are extremely contagious. Don’t worry, though, you can’t catch them from your dog – but your other pets can. If you have multiple pets and one gets ear mites, you’d best have them all checked out.
Ear mites have rather a sheltered existence living their whole life on one dog. While they usually stick around inside the ear, they can sometimes spread to the surrounding skin and even take up residence as far away as the feet and tail.
Luckily, ear mites in dogs are easily treated. Once you suspect your dog has them, get him to the vet. It’s important that your veterinarian diagnose the problem since there are other ear problems that can cause the same symptoms. Once the ear mite diagnosis is made, then a few simple steps are taken to eradicate them.
The first thing your vet will do is flush out the ear canal. This is critical, since it gets rid of the buildup (called exudate) and if this is not removed then medications used to treat the mites probably will not work. Needless to say, it’s best if you don’t try flushing your dogs ears at home – best to bring him to the vet for this.
The next step can be done at home and consists of medicated ear drops that will kill the mites. These are usually put in the ears once or twice a day. The drops contain an insecticide (usually pyrethrin) which kills the mites. Treatment might continue anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks depending on the particular medication your vet has prescribed.
Ear mites in dogs are common and easily treated – however, they can become serious if left untreated. If you suspect your dog has ear mites, then please check with your vet as soon as possible to insure that this problem does not get out of control.
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