With nicer weather approaching, many of our animals are happy to be able to spend more time outdoors! Unfortunately, being outdoors exposes them to parasites – one of those being ear mites.

Ear mites live on the surface of the skin in the ear canal and feed on the tissue and debris in the ear. They are the most common mite found in the ears. Kittens and young cats are commonly affected, as their immune system is still developing. Ear mites are also seen in cats that spend time outdoors. Infection happens from contact with another infected animal. Most dogs get affected through their feline companions!

The most common sign your pet could have ear mites would be scratching or shaking their head. If you were to look in their ear, or try to clean it out, you would notice a dark black, crusty discharge. Another sign could be hair loss around the ears from your pet scratching. If left untreated, ear mites can leave the ear canal and cause infestations on the head or rest of the body. Some animals can even get an aural hematoma (a large blood blister caused by rupturing of the blood vessels when they shake their head or scratch at their ears).

Ear mites are very contagious – they can be passed onto other pets that are in close contact with the infected one. On very rare occasions people have also been affected.

Ear mites can be treated through a topical medication purchased at our clinic. It is important to get a diagnosis, as some other ear infections can mimic an ear mite infestation, and sometimes over the counter ear mite medication can aggravate the infection. Your veterinarian will get a swab from your pets’ ear to confirm ear mites. The mites are not visible to the human eye but can be seen under a microscope. The mites can sometimes be seen through an otoscope.

Once diagnosed – your veterinarian can prescribe the topical medication that will need to be applied monthly. The ear canal should be cleaned as well; as this clears some of the debris and tissue the mites feed on. Your pet should feel relief quite soon after treatment as the medication is working hard to kill those mites!

Ear mites can be prevented through monthly topical applications of the same medication used to treat the mites. If your pets spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s a good idea to invest in monthly prevention medication!

Call us at Cumberland Vet Clinic today if you suspect your pet may have ear mites, or you would like some monthly prevention medications!

Written by: Raeanne Boyd, RVT