Ear Mites

Ear mites (Otodectes Cynotis) are common parasites which frequently cause otitis externa in both dogs and cats. Otitis externa is a condition causing inflammation, pain and irritation of the ear canal.

The mites are very contagious and so are easily passed from pet to pet, including dogs, cats and ferrets. Young kittens and puppies very commonly have mites which they get from their mother.

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  • Some pets may not show any signs but still remain a source of re-infestation for other pets. Other pets have intense pruritis (itchiness) and/or massive amounts of ear discharge. The discharge is usually brown and waxy, and often described to look like coffee grounds. One or both ears may be affected. Secondary infections with bacteria and yeasts may occur which can cause even more severe clinical signs.

    In very heavy infestations mites may leave the ear canal and migrate to other parts of the body. Ear mites can occasionally cause a skin allergy, which in cats, can cause ‘miliary dermatitis’ . The lesions of feline military dermatitis are multiple small, crusty bumps with redness underneath. Ear mite under microscope

  • The presence of the brown waxy discharge is often suggestive of infestation. Your vet may also see mites by examining the external ear canal with an otoscope or by looking at an ear swab under a microscope. Some cats may have small numbers of mites but have copious quantities of ear wax and irritation while other cats with very clean ears may have as many as 50 mites present.

  • Your vet may prescribe a topical ointment to apply to the ears one to two times daily. Alternatively there are monthly treatments which may be applied to the skin or given orally.

    In contact pets should always be treated irrespective of whether they are showing clinical signs. Ask your veterinary surgeon for the option which best suits your needs

  • Prevention of ear mites and clinical signs is best achieved by treating all pets with a flea product which also is licensed to treat ear mites.