Treating Ear Mite Infestation in Dogs

James Glover
by James Glover
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QuestionHow do I get rid of my dogs ear mites? I have tried the ear drops and also was told that cider vinegar would help, but neither has. What should I do? (Wendy Smalley - Ohio)

Answer

As their name suggests, ear mites (Otodectes cyanotis) generally only affect the ears, but can in fact also be found on the neck and tail. Ear mites can be contagious between other cats and dogs that the infected animal comes in contact with. All dog owners should routinely check their dogs' ears for red-brown crusts that indicate the presence of mites. Some people are able to see ear mites, as they are larger than other kinds of mites that affect dogs. Ear mites themselves do not directly cause the symptoms commonly associated with an infestation - severe itchiness is caused by the dog having an allergic reaction to the mites biting, and untreated infestation can lead to a painful inflammation of the ear called otitis. If your dog is infested with mites, your vet will be able to identify thousands of tiny moving white dots along the ear canal.

Treatment of an ear mite infestation relies on you understanding the flea's life cycle - it is possible to only temporarily remove the mites if the treatment is not persistent. The first step in dealing with an infestation is to regularly clean the ear of skin flakes and debris - the main source of food for the mites. Secondly, use a proprietary topical preparation which is designed specifically to kill ear mites. Follow the directions completely, and in particular carry on treatment for the duration specified. This is important because eggs will remain after the adults are killed, and only a repeat treatment will eradicate the new generation. You should also treat the dog's bedding and environment at least once during treatment to prevent re-infestation from any lingering eggs in the environment. You should also be vigilant for any secondary infections, such as a bacterial or fungal infection of the year which would also need to be treated.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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