Ear mites are small common parasites that crawl around the ear and chew on the ear, feeding off of the tissue debris and secretions of the ear canal lining. Ear mites cause animals to scratch their ears constantly. If left untreated, ear mites can infect the external and internal canal, leading to more serious skin or ear infections. Although they can infect both dogs and cats, ear mites are more common in cats. They are responsible for more than 50 percent of all feline ear infections.
Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs and Cats
If the animal is intensely scratching its ears, shaking its head and/or there is what looks like brown, coffee ground-like debris in the ear canal, you have ear mites. A dark, dry, waxy chunk of debris is often seen in the canal.
Ear Mite Treatment in Dogs and Cats
Here are some tips for when it comes to how to get rid of ear mites in dogs and cats:
- Use Vet Basics® General Ear Cleanser to clean as much of the coffee ground-like mite excrement out of the ear canal.
- Use a miticide to kill the mites. Be sure to massage the base of the ear to move the medication deep down into the canal. Mites are easy to kill, but getting the medication to the bottom of the ear canal may take several treatments. Follow medication instructions to eliminate all the mites and the eggs that will hatch later.
- Ear mites are highly contagious from pet to pet. Treat all the animals in the house, even those that are not showing signs, for a minimum of three weeks to kill the mites and their eggs. If one pet is left untreated, the mites will continue to spread.
- Follow up again with a cat and dog ear cleaner to keep the ears clean.
- Many types of ear mites can also live on other areas of the body, including the feet and tail. Because cats often sleep with their tails curled up close to their heads, it is important to clean the tail thoroughly.
Some pets are more resistant to infection and show little irritation, while others are less resistant and very uncomfortable. Treat all of your four-legged friends to ensure you are rid of the problem.
If you have more questions on ear mites in cats and dogs, call us at 800.786.4751.
Updated by Marty Greer, DVM
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Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.