What are ear mites?
Ear mites are a fairly common parasite in both dogs and cats. The mites are microscopic and infectious organisms which are like tiny white dots in appearance, but can barely be seen with the naked eye. Detection under a microscope is normally required to confirm their presence.
Ear mites live on the skin of the ear canal and feed off ear wax and skin oils. An adult normally lives for approximately two months, but can multiply quickly with eggs taking just four days to hatch and a further three weeks to develop into an adult mite ready to breed.
How do I know if my dog has ear mites?
An ear mite infection will cause your dog’s ears to itch, which often results in them shaking their head excessively, or scratching at their ears with their paws. Ear mites can also produce wax and irritation, so your pet’s ears may well look red and inflamed. Typically, ear mites will also cause a dry black ear discharge. There may also be an unusual odour.
But irritation in a dog’s ear is more often than not caused by allergies leading to infections other than ear mites, so it’s crucial that you get your dog to the vets for a proper diagnosis – especially since the parasites are so difficult to detect with the naked eye. Vets will normally confirm a diagnosis of ear mites using an otoscope to look inside the ear. Without visiting the vet, many owners incorrectly assume that their dog has ear mites when they are, in fact, suffering from a bacterial or yeast ear infection; this can lead to weeks of inappropriate treatment and the condition worsening.