Ear mites in pets: what to look out for

Ear mites in pets are unpleasant for pet owners (they usually result in smelly ears) and sore and uncomfortable for pets. Unfortunately, not all pets display obvious symptoms so vigilance is necessary to detect and then treat them. Ear mites affect both dogs and cats, though they are more frequent in cats.

Ear mites in pets: what are they?

Oval in shape, ear mites resemble coffee grounds in your pet’s ear. They live on the ear’s surface.

How does my pet get ear mites?

Ear mites are highly contagious and pass easily from pet to pet and even from dogs to cats. They feed on the lining of the ear and cause inflammation, redness and discomfort.

What symptoms should I look out for?

Look out for vigorous ear shaking or rubbing and scratching of ears. There may also be mild hair loss.

Sometimes the head shaking is so vigorous, blood vessels within the ear flap are ruptured forming a bloodsac (otheamatoma) which needs surgical intervention. Look out also for a thick crust on the outer ear, or possible crust and scales on the neck, rump and tail.

There is often an unpleasant odour and red/brown or waxy discharge from the ear.

Your pet may also contract bacterial infections from the damage to the ears caused by the mites.

You may also notice an unpleasant odour and discharge from the ear.

What you can do to help

If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms described here, get your pet to the vet. There are several other potential ear issues which can afflict cats and dogs and these can cause serious and permanent damage. A diagnosis is essential. You can try treating with Otosol or Oticlear drops – available from EberVet Vetshops – for a maximum of two days but if this doesn’t clear the symptoms, your vet is your next port of call. Some animals may harbour mites, but have no clinical signs of infestation, therefore, all animals within a household should be treated, not just the visibly affected dog.

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