Ear Mites Are a Common Health Issue in Pets

Ear mites can cause a great deal of discomfort for your pet. As implied by their name, they reside within the ear canal of cats and dogs and feed upon ear wax and the animal's natural body oils. Pets infested with these critters tend to shake their heads excessively or hold their heads at an angle. They may also scratch themselves to the point of removing all the fur in the area around their ears.

While ear mites in dogs and cats may contribute to ear infections, just because your pet has an ear infection doesn't necessarily mean that it also has ear mites. It's important to always confirm the existence of ear mites before treating the animal. Feline ear mites are far more common than canine ear mites, as dogs are more likely to have ear infections from other causes.

Does Your Pet Have Ear Mites?

Ear mites create a black or brown substance in the ear canal that resembles coffee grounds. You can test for the presence of mites by collecting some of this material and examining it under bright light with a magnifying glass. Spreading the material on a dark piece of paper is ideal; the mites are white in color and any detectable movement will indicate that they are present.

Now that you've verified that your pet has ear mites, you can start the treatment process. The good news is that eliminating ear mites is usually effective and cheap. You can start by cleaning out your pet's ears with a cotton ball and lukewarm water. You can also use an ear syringe to carefully flush out the ear canal. Avoid using a cotton swab, as you can either puncture your pet's eardrum or impact wax or debris deep into the ear canal. This cleaning process will help remove the adult ear mites, but it won't remove the eggs.

Treating Ear Mites

Getting rid of ear mites can be problematic if you don't take the right steps. First of all, dog ear mites and cat ear mites can be quite elusive. They are tiny and may leave the ear canal to hide deep in the pet's fur, returning after you've completed treatments. Using a flea spray or powder can help to kill those mites that escape the ear canal. Since mites are easily passed on by even incidental contact between pets, you must treat all of your pets at the same time if you wish to eliminate the ear mites permanently.

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Topical treatments available from most vets can take anywhere from 10 days to three weeks to work. There are also single-use treatments that require application either directly to the ear or to the pet's shoulders. Some treatments are approved only for cats and not for dogs.

Home Remedies for Ear Mites

Home remedies can be a good option for those who are concerned about using potentially harmful treatments on younger pets. The following home remedies for ear mites can address kitten ear mites or ear mites in any other animal that may be extra-sensitive to conventional treatments:

  • Use olive or vegetable oil to help loosen impacted mite dirt in the ear canal.
  • Apply psorinum or sulfur around the ears to help relieve irritation from excessive scratching.
  • Apply 9 drops of yellow dock root extract plus 1 tablespoon of water to the ear canal every three days for six weeks to help kill mites.
  • Combine half an ounce of almond oil plus 400 IUs of vitamin E. Warm it up and insert half an eyedropper into each affected ear. Massage the mixture around the ear and remove the excess with cotton balls.

As always, see a veterinarian if you have difficulty determining whether your pet is suffering from ear mites or if the symptoms persist for more than a month.