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Ear Mites in Dogs

Otodectes cynotis Mites in Dogs

 

Otodectes cynotis mites, most commonly called ear mites, are a common and relatively mild parasite infection. However, complications may arise when an animal has an immune hypersensitivity reaction that results in intense irritation of the external ear.

 

Dogs that are afflicted with ear mites will typically scratch at the ears excessively and shake their heads, even pulling out their own hair as they scratch. Some dogs will shake their heads so much that an hematoma of the ear will form (with blood pooling in the ear due to breakage of a blood vessel). Also a concern is when dogs will scratch at their ears to the point that damage is done to the ear canals or ear drums.

 

This type of mange is common in young dogs, although it may occur at any age. It is known for being highly contagious, frequently passing from parent to newborn, and between animals of different species (this mite does not affect humans). The mite also commonly spreads out to other parts of the body.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

  • Itching of the ears, head and neck
  • Sometimes generalized itching
  • Excessive scratching at ears and around head
  • Frequently shaking the head
  • Thick red-brown or black crusts in the outer ear
  • Coffee ground like bumps in the ear canal
  • Abrasions and scratches on the back side of the ears
  • Crusting and scale on the neck, rump and tail

 

Causes

 

  • O. cynotis ear mites

 

 

Diagnosis

 

You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog's health and onset of symptoms, as well as whether your dog has regular contact with other animals. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including standard lab tests, such as a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel, just to be sure that your dog does not have any other diseases.

 

A thorough dermatologic exam will be performed, with skin scrapings taken for laboratory analysis. Ear swabs may be placed in mineral oil to identify the mites, and your veterinarian can use an otoscope to look into the ear canals, where ear mites can be visually discovered directly in the ear. If your dog is hypersensitive as a result of the infestation, making a deep examination of the ears difficult, a diagnosis may be made by the dog's response to medical treatment.

 

Treatment

 

Patients can be treated on an outpatient basis with medication designed to eradicate the mites. As this infection is very contagious, all animals in the same household should be treated and the environment cleaned very thoroughly. Mites do not survive long away from the animal's body, so a thorough house cleaning should be enough.

 

The ears should be thoroughly cleaned with a commercial ear cleaner that is formulated specifically for dogs. Ear mite parasiticides should be used for 7–10 days to eradicate mites and eggs, with a repeat of the treatment around two weeks later. Flea treatments should be applied to the rest of the dog's body as well for elimination of ectopic mites.

 

Living and Management

 

The prognosis is good for most patients. One month after therapy begins, your veterinarian will schedule a follow-up appointment to swab your dog's ears and to perform a physical exam.

 

 

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