Ear Mites

An infestation of mites that tends to affect the ears of young animals.

OVERVIEW

Ear mites are tiny insects that can live in the ear of the cat, dog, fox or ferret. The most common species is Otodectes cynotis. Ear mites are the size of a pin-head and are blood sucking parasites. Mite infestations tend to occur in the ears of young animals.

SIGNS

An ear mite infestation is characterised by itchiness of the ears, head shaking, and a thick red-black discharge of the ear. It is a very contagious problem and, therefore, all pets in the household should be treated with appropriate ear drops and flea treatment.

MANAGEMENT

Management of ear mites:

  • Daily cleaning of the ear to remove all the wax and debris
  • Ear mite treatment following cleaning - allow the pet to shake their head to remove excess ear cleaning solution before adding any direct ear treatment drops. Other ear mite treatments can be found within topical flea treatments that are applied on the skin over the back of the neck.

A home treatment that can often help remove ear mites is the use of baby oil. A few drops massaged into the ear 3 times a day for a month.

If the ear becomes red or sore, seek veterinary attention immediately.

TIPS

Tips to help prevent ear mites:

  • Regular ear cleaning of all pets in the household
  • Parasite control

Tips to that may help keep the ears clean once you have approval from your veterinarian and if your pet allows:

  • Using an ear cleaning solution, gently squeeze the solution into the ear canal following the instructions carefully
  • Massage the ear from the based upwards and out
  • Wipe any discharge and solution with sterile cotton balls

REFERENCES

Krieger K, Heine J, Dumont P, Hellmann K. Efficacy and safety of imidacloprid 10% plus moxidectin 2.5% spot-on in the treatment of sarcoptic mange and otoacariosis in dogs: results af a European field study.  Parasitol Res. 2005 Oct;97 Suppl 1:S81-8.

Curtis CF. Current trends in the treatment of Sarcoptes, Cheyletiella and Otodectesmite infestations in dogs and cats.  Vet Dermatol. 2004 Apr;15(2):108-14.

Akucewich LH, Philman K, Clark A, Gillespie J, Kunkle G, Nicklin CF, Greiner EC. Prevalence of ctoparasites in a population of feral cats from north central Florida during the summer.  Vet Parasitol. 2002 Oct 16;109(1-2):129-39.

Otranto D, Milillo P, Mesto P, De Caprariis D, Perrucci S, Capelli G.  Otodectes cynotis (Acari: soroptidae): examination of survival off-the-host under natural and laboratory conditions.  Exp Appl Acarol. 2004;32(3):171-9.