If your dog is scratching around his ears or shaking his head, you might be wondering if he has ear mites. Ear mites' Latin name is Otodectes cynotis, which means "ear beggar of the dog."
Ear mites in dogs feed on wax and oils in your dog's ears, hence their Latin name. They are arachnids and look like tiny white spots. Since they are so small, you won't be able to spot them, but your vet can give a proper diagnosis using an otoscope or microscope.
If your dog has ear skin irritation, and your vet has ruled out ear mites, it could be allergies.
What are ear mites?
Ear mites are tiny parasites that can infest the external ear canal in animals. They are more common in cats than dogs and will not likely spread to humans.
They are commonly only found in animals' ears, although they can travel all over your dog's body.
Ear mites lay eggs that hatch in just four days, and adults can live up to 2 months.
What do ear mites look like in dogs?
Ear mites are almost invisible to the naked eye. However, you may be able to spot them. Use a soft cloth and wipe the inside of your dog's ear. If you notice tiny white spots about the size of a period at the end of a sentence, they may be ear mites.
How do dogs get ear mites?
Dogs can get ear mites from contact with other dogs and cats. For example, when dogs play together, it is easy for ear mites to jump onto the new host. In addition, young dogs and puppies are more likely to develop ear mite infestations.
What are the symptoms of ear mites?
Since ear mites are so small and almost undetectable without a microscope, the easiest way to spot them is to look at the symptoms they may provoke.
Despite their size, you should try to clean your dog's ears with a soft cloth and check the residue on the cloth: if you see tiny white dots, they could be ear mites. Always confirm with a vet for a proper diagnosis as ear infections can have similar symptoms but different causes.
Here are the symptoms ear mites may cause:
- Debris in the ear canal that looks like coffee grounds
- Persistent head shaking or scratching
- Skin irritation and scabs around the ears
- Strong odor coming from the ears
- Hair loss around the ears. It could be the result of your dog scratching.
- Black or brown waxy secretions from the ears
- Inflammation of the ear, including redness and the ear becoming hot to the touch
How to treat ear mites in dogs?
I highly recommend bringing your dog to your vet to diagnose this issue properly. Ear mites symptoms are similar to other types of ear infections and allergies.
Your vet will inspect your dog's ears with an otoscope and a sample taken from his ears. Using a microscope on the sample, your vet can see what types of organisms or pests are in your dog's ears and recommend the best treatment.
Is it possible to prevent ear mites from affecting my pet?
There are some topical treatments or prescriptions that can prevent ear mites. Some will also protect against fleas as an added benefit.
I recommend regularly cleaning your dog's ears using a soft, damp cloth. Always look at the residue as that can help you spot mites early on and before they can do any significant damage.
Ear Mites vs. Ear Infection
As I said above, it can be hard to know if your dog has ear mites or ear infections. Ear infections are common and can be caused by a yeast infection, a bacterial infection, or even allergic skin disease.
Home remedies for ear mites in dogs
While you wait for your vet's diagnosis, it can be helpful to start grooming your dog's coat, skin, and ears with Organic Coconut Oil for dogs. The oil will soothe your dog's skin and ears and help with ear infections and ear mites infestations.
If you suspect allergies could cause your dog discomfort, you could consider supplementing your dog's diet with an Immunity booster like Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil. I included links to our Coconut Oil and Salmon Oil Formula. However, you are welcome to do your research on Google and get the product that best fits your needs.
Can humans get ear mites from dogs?
Ear mites mainly spread from other dogs and cats and don't typically spread to humans. Therefore, humans don't get ear mites from dogs. However, ear mites have been spotted in animals other than dogs and cats, such as rabbits and foxes.
Are dog ear mites contagious?
Yes, ear mites are contagious. They will go from one host to another while dogs or cats play. However, like, I said above, ear mites will not contaminate humans. If one of your dogs has ear mites, you will want to bring all your dogs to the vet and start cleaning bedding and toys thoroughly at home.