When your pet is scratching their ears or shaking their head, it’s common for many pet owners to believe ear mites have taken refuge in their pets’ ears. However, while ear mites are common in some pets, most cases have proven to be bacteria or yeast infections.
Ear mites are most commonly found in kittens, and less often in adults. These eight-legged parasites feed on the wax and oils in a kitten’s ear canal, and have a three-week life cycle. If left untreated, ear mites can cause an infection that produces a dark, coffee ground-like discharge. Ear mites are most often passed from pet to pet when they come in contact at home or outside.
Dogs are less likely to house these mites in their ears. However, many infections are common in dogs’ ears and can develop from a number of factors, including hair growth, allergies, and frequent bathing or swimming.
The best way to diagnose what exactly is going on in your pets’ ears is to take them to your local veterinarian. The doctor will inspect your pets’ ears with an otoscope, which allows them to see the entire ear canal and ear drum, and they find ear mites using a microscope. Your veterinarian will most likely advise you to practice routine cleaning on your pets’ ears after treatment to help prevent future infections. Check out our September/October newsletter for more about ear infections and how to treat them. Please contact the Campus Veterinary Clinic if you have any questions concerning ear mites or infections.