A dog scratching his ear.

When it comes to things in veterinary medicine that give us the creepy crawlies at Caring Paws Animal Hospital, the ear mite may just be near the top of our list. Keep reading to learn more about what these nasty little buggers are and how we treat ear mites in pets. 

Otodectes and Your Pet

Ear mites are tiny creatures that are barely visible to the naked eye. Most common in cats, the species we most often see in veterinary medicine is Otodectes cyanotis

Otodectes mites live in the ear canals, feasting on ear wax and producing a dark brown-to-black crumbly waste similar to coffee grounds in appearance. They can cause inflammation and redness and are often quite itchy. 

Ear mites are contracted from close contact with other affected animals. The mites simply crawl from one ear to the next! 

We most often diagnose ear mites in pets that have been outdoors or in very close contact with other animals. Dogs can also contract ear mites, but it is much less common than in cats. 

What to Do You Suspect an Ear Problem

Most pet owners are pretty quick to notice when ear problems begin. With some careful observation, our animals often are quick to let us know that there is trouble. 

Your pet may tell you that he or she is having ear discomfort by:

  • Shaking their head
  • Acting pained when the ear is touched
  • Holding an ear in an abnormal position
  • Scratching at the ear 
  • Rubbing the head

You may also notice a bad odor, redness of the ear flap or ear, swelling of the ear canal or ear itself, or increased discharge from one or both ears. 

If your pet is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, cleaning gently with a commercially available ear cleaner may help. If your pet continues to have trouble, please contact us for an appointment

Ear problems can be quite painful, so do not delay in seeking help. We want your pet to feel better soon!

Treating Ear Mites in Pets

Whenever a pet has an ear problem, it is important that our team properly diagnose the cause of the issue. Treating for ear mites when the problem is a yeast infection will result in the problem continuing and potentially worsening.

We often determine the cause of an ear problem by taking swabs of the material in each ear to be examined under the microscope. Ear mites in pets are typically readily seen under the microscope.

Most times we are able to easily treat ear mites in pets by using specific medications applied directly to the ears and/or topical treatments. Because they are contagious, though, other pets in the home with which the infected pet has close contact should also be treated. 

Cats who spend time outdoors can benefit from using a preventive product like Revolution Plus to protect them from these yucky little bugs. 

Not all ear problems in pets can be blamed on ear mites, but if they are involved we want to know. We are happy to aid in evicting these unwelcome guests from your pet’s ears.