Do dogs as well as cats get ear mites? You bet! Here’s a reader’s question about her dog’s ear mites, and what I had to say in response:
Q: I always thought that dogs didn’t get ear mites, but my puppy has just been diagnosed with them. What’s up with that? — via Facebook
A: It’s true that ear mites (otodectic mange) are more commonly associated with cats, but an infestation of these parasitic insects is one of the most common problems we veterinarians see in puppies and young adult dogs. The tiny critters are easily transmitted between puppies, and they are also contagious between cats and dogs. (Bunnies and ferrets can get them, too.) The general rule of paw is that if one pet in the household has ear mites, all of them should be treated. Otherwise, they’ll just keep passing the bugs around.
If your pup has an infestation, you can bet that his ears are mite-y itchy. Scratching constantly at both ears instead of just one is a good clue that you’re dealing with ear mites instead of an ear infection. Another sign is an accumulation of what looks like coffee grounds in the ears. If you remove a sample and look at it under a magnifying glass, you might be able to see tiny white specks — the mites — moving around. All that scratching can cause your pup to develop red, raw skin or hair loss around the ears, and bacterial infections can be complications as well.
To treat ear mites, your pup’s ears will need a deep cleaning by the veterinary technician, followed by a systemic medication or ear drops prescribed by your veterinarian. Ear mites under attack can flee the ears and move to other parts of the body (they’re especially fond of the base of the tail), heading back to the ears once you’re no longer medicating them. To prevent that from happening, it’s important that your pet be on a whole-body parasite prevention product.
Read more, including about rattlesnake aversion training for dogs, in this week’s Pet Connection!