Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 30th 2014 Contents B8
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt March 30, 2014
In our series on pet parasites, we have already
covered ticks and fleas and in the upcoming weeks
we will focus on mites. Today we will look at ear
mites in dogs and on April 13, 2014, we will look
at ear mites in cats.
Although there are several types of mites that can
live within the ears of our dogs, the most common
species is Otodectes cynotis. These are tiny, eight-
legged parasites that feed on the wax and oils that
build up in a dog s ear canal.
Ear mites are highly contagious and can be rapidly
transmitted from animal to animal during even brief
physical contact. These mites frequently pass from
parent to newborn, and between animals of different
species including cats, but humans are generally
immune to this type of mite. The life cycle of an
individual mite is about four weeks. Female mites
are able to reproduce after about three weeks and
once she lays eggs, these hatch within three to four
The mite is barely detectable by the naked human
eye and diagnosis involves your registered veterinarian
taking a sample of ear discharge with a cotton bud
and examining it under a microscope to confirm the
presence of the mite. Your veterinarian will also
usually use an otoscope which allows the examiner
to see inside of the inner ear using a light source,
and to insert instruments through the otoscope into
the ear canals for removing earwax (cerumen) for
further testing. Some types of bacterial infections
can mimic the symptoms of ear mites; therefore
avoid diagnosing ear mites yourself, or taking "advice"
from the petshop owner, the pharmacist, the neigh-
bour down the road, etc.
Ear mites infect the external and internal ear canal
causing irritation and inflammation, and lead to more
serious skin or ear infections if left untreated. This
mite can spread to other parts of the dog s body and
you may see crusting on the neck, rump and tail of
Other symptoms of ear mites in your dog include:
excessive scratching and rubbing of ears, head and
neck; frequent head shaking; brown or black waxy
secretion from the ear(s); strong offensive odour from
one or both ears; thick red-brown or black crusts in
the outer ear(s); obstruction of ear canal with cof-
fee-ground-like discharge or bumps in the ear canal(s);
and abrasions and scratches on the outside of the
ear(s) as the pet itches with his paws. This intense
scratching and head shaking can rupture blood vessels
in the dog s ear(s) causing the ear flap to become
swollen with blood---this aural haematoma is painful
for the pet and requires surgical correction. Some
dogs may even scratch at their ears to the point that
damage is done to the ear canals or ear drums.
Treatment must be prescribed by your veterinarian
and involves topical medications to the skin of the
ear, or drops applied directly in the ear and massaged
into the ear canal. It is important to clean out all the
debris from the ear canal daily before applying the
medication. Antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs
may be prescribed by your veterinarian to resolve
infections. It is important that you follow your vet-
erinarian s instructions for dosage and frequency;
and that you complete the recommended course of
treatment, because a new crop of mites will re-infect
your dog if the treatment is stopped too soon.
You can help to prevent ear mites by routinely
cleaning your dog s ears once a month. Remember
to thoroughly wash and clean your dog s bedding
once you have started treatment---otherwise he will
be re-infected. You should also check any other pets
• Irritation and inflammation
• Abrasions and scratches on the outside of the
ear(s) as the pet itches with his paws.
• Excessive scratching and rubbing of ears, head
• Ear and skin infections.
• Crusting on the neck, rump and tail of your dog.
• Thick red-brown or black crusts in the outer
• Frequent head shaking.
• Brown or black waxy secretion from the ear(s).
•Strong offensive odour from one or both ears.
• Obstruction of ear canal with coffee-ground-
like discharge or bumps in the ear canal(s).
SYMPTOMS OF EAR MITES:
Cleaning ears with a cloth or cotton. If any of the above signs leads you to suspect infection (yeast or
bacterial), or ear mites, bring your dog to the veterinarian clinic.
Ear mites in dogs
Copyright © Kristel-Marie Ramnath 2014. For
further information contact 689-8113 or
and lead to
skin or ear
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