Ear mites can be a common cause of itchy infected ears in cats and dogs, but not the only cause. If your pet is scratching excessively at their ears or shaking their head the first step is to bring them in to see their veterinarian to determine the cause. Allergies and bacterial or yeast infections can also cause itchy ears and will need different treatments than that of ear mites. Dogs can get ear mites but they are more commonly seen in cats.
Ear mites can cause quite a bit of discomfort for your pet as they scurry about the ear canal feasting on the ear wax and oily secretions. The more mites there are the louder they are to your pet and more uncomfortable your pet will become. Your pet will scratch at their ears to try and relieve their discomfort and can inadvertently cause damage to their ears with their claws to the point of bleeding. These self-inflicted injuries now leave the pet open to infection on the outside of their ears adding to their pain and discomfort. Ear mites are microscopic organisms that can just barely be seen by the naked eye and cause inflammation within the ear.
They most commonly are found in the ear but can venture out onto the fur surrounding the ear. For proper diagnosis, your Veterinarian will take an ear swab from your pet and view it under the microscope, but an initial clue may be a dark coloured debris in the ear often compared to coffee grounds. The debris can build up and become so thick the animal may have difficulty hearing and infections of the outer ear can progress to the inner ear and result in permanent damage if left untreated.
Treatment for ear mites usually starts with a thorough ear cleaning to help clear out all of the debris that has built up due to the mites and give your pet some much-needed relief. Then a topical or injectable treatment will be administered. Some treatments may need to be reapplied to ensure that any mites hatched after the first treatment are eradicated as well. If there are multiple cats or dogs in the house everyone should be treated for ear mites at the same time. If only the one pet showing symptoms is treated the other pets, who may also have ear mites, may then re-infect first pet starting a vicious cycle. Ear mites are transferred from animal to animal through contact. If your cat is venturing outdoors they may be making friends in the neighbourhood and getting ear mites from them while they socialize. Now don’t worry you can cuddle up with you cat or dog and not get ear mites from them.
So if you think your cat or dog might have ear mites make sure to get a vet to see them at Mill Creek Animal Hospital right away because you never know what those mites are whispering in their ear!
This blog was written with the help of information gathered from VeterinaryPartner.com
Written by Nicki Payne, RAHT