Dogs are prone to several health problems, most of which arise as their owners fail to take good care of them. One such problem is that of ear mite infestation. Ear mites are little ectoparasites that live in the ears of animals, like dogs and cats, as well as humans. In dogs, the problem is attributed to the Otodectes cynotis species, which resemble ticks or tiny spiders. This is one of the most common ear problems in dogs.
Ear mites are contagious ectoparasites which spread through contact with infected animals. Dogs that are sent for dog obedience training may get infected by coming in contact with infected dogs at the training center. In fact, these mites can spread from a mother to her puppies as well. If you have several dogs and cats at your place, and even one of them gets ear mites, then it will make all of them vulnerable to infestation.
While their name may suggest so, ear mites are not restricted to the ear canal. They can be found anywhere on the body of the infected animal, and that's one thing that you need to take into consideration when you check your dog for these parasites.
Ear mites commonly affect dog breeds with long floppy ears. They prefer ears that are warm, moist, and have restricted air flow. One of the obvious signs of mite infestation is frequent scratching of the ear. If your dog constantly scratches his ears or shakes his head, you should examine his ear canal closely. You won't just notice one, two, or ten, but thousands of them scurrying across your dog's ear. If you don't treat the problem immediately, you are only inviting trouble for your dog.
Another tell-tale sign is reddening and inflammation of the ear. The tiny critters crawl around the surface of the ear canal. They feed on the tissue debris, tissue fluids, and earwax, as a result of which the ear starts itching. The dog continuously scratches his ear to get rid of this discomfort, and that, in turn, causes reddening and inflammation.
You should also watch out for increase in earwax along with dark, crusty ear discharge and foul odor coming from the ear. If the dog continues scratching, he may damage the small blood vessels in his ear, which, in turn, will cause bleeding. Additionally, it may lead to formation of hematomas.
Ear mites are seldom affected by the use of simple ear products, and therefore, preparations containing pyrethrin, which is known for its insecticidal potency, are used for the treatment of infected dogs. Similarly, ivermectin, fipronil, and selamectin are also used in preparations at times. The entire body of the animal has to be treated, and therefore, shampoos, sprays, and dips containing ingredients to kill fleas and ticks are also used.
You can also resort to home remedies to help ease the discomfort of your pet dog. You can massage your dogs ear using olive or vegetable oil to get rid of ear mite dirt in it. You can use clean cotton balls or q-tips for cleaning the ear canal. You have to be very careful when doing this. If your dog is not comfortable, you should stop it immediately.
Another effective home remedy is to massage the dog's ear using a mixture of ½ ounce of almond or olive oil and 400 IU of vitamin E. Make it a point to heat the mixture to make it warm, NOT hot. As with oil massage, you can use cotton balls to clean the ear canal once you are done massaging. The same should be done again after a gap of three days.
Yellow Dock root extract is also considered effective when dealing with this problem. You can dilute the extract with water by adding 9 drops of extract to 1 tablespoon water, and use it to clean the dog's ear. This should be done once in three days for about six weeks.
You shouldn't just rely on these home remedies, but also follow the vet's advice. Ear mites are not easy to get rid of. You need to patiently continue with the treatment. You should bathe your pet with flea or mite shampoo, and make sure that you clean them from the tip of their nose to the tip of the tail. If they remain lodged in any other part of the dog's body, it is very easy for them to return to the ear.
Additionally, you need to pay attention to your pet's diet. You should ideally use a raw meat diet or preservative-free dog food that helps make the dog healthy. You can supplement these dog foods with garlic and Brewer's yeast; that will help in getting rid of mites.
If you see any symptoms of ear mite infestation, like the dog continuously shaking its head or scratching its ear, you should immediately take him to the vet. If not treated in time, the condition can lead to serious complications in your pet's health and even cost him his hearing.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.