What are Ear Mites?
Ear mites belong to the class Arachnida, which includes ticks and other species of mites (such as the dust mite and the mold mite). Mites are often considered one of the most diverse and prosperous of all invertebrates . Since they possess a small body structure, they are able to conduct their regular routine without being detected by others. Most mites are microscopic, living in the soil and water, as well as on humans and animals. As for the ear mite, they choose to set up shop in the ears of animals (mostly cats).
The most common species of ear mite is the Otodectes cynotis, which possesses the capacity to spread at a rapid pace – transmitted with the briefest of physical contact with other animals. When it comes to the animals you share your home with, ear mites typically affect cats and ferrets the most, but also attack dogs as well. In very rare cases, ear mites will come in contact with humans and become an issue. Unlike most mites (which burrow), an ear mite simply lives in the ear canal .
Other animals affected by the ear mite include rabbits and cattle. The Psoroptes cuniculi species is larger in size than the Otodectes cynotis and is seen in rabbits. In regards to rabbits, ear mites cause thick debris to accumulate in the ear canal. As it worsens, the outer ear and face may show signs of infection. Usually, the rabbit will scratch at and shake their head. In cattle, a serious ear mite infection can affect their hearing .
The Life Cycle of an Ear Mite
The eggs of an ear mite are laid and hatch within four days of incubation. Larva emerges and feeds on the ear wax or skin oils of its host, which continues for about a week. Afterwards, the larva will molt into what is called a protonymph, which then molts again, becoming a deutonymph. The deutonymph mates with adult males, even though it surprisingly hasn’t even established a gender at the time.
After mating, another round of molting takes place and the mite is established as either an adult male or female. The females are already ready to lay eggs, while the males go off to find deutonymphs to mate with. The average life span of an adult ear mite is about two months.
Symptoms & DiagnosisPets infected with ear mites often scratch about their ears or characteristically shake their heads. The intensity of scratching and head shaking will depend on how badly they are infected with ear mites. In the worst cases, the ear canals begin to bleed, where fresh or dried blood becomes quite visible inside of the ear canal. This dried blood is often described as coffee grounds. Although a buildup of this coffee ground-like material in the ear canal is a common symptom of ear mites, it is not a completely conclusive manner to diagnose an ear mite infection, as a handful of bacterial and/or yeast infections will also produce this effect.
The presence of ear mites is quite common, but an infection is too serious of a condition to ignore. When left untreated, the ear canals can become severely damaged along with the eardrum. Unfortunately, animals have been known to permanently lose their hearing as a result .
Overall, the main symptoms in both cats and dogs to look out for include intense irritation, scratching, thick and crusty ear discharge (black in color), an increase in earwax production, persistent ear scratching and shaking of the head. To make sure you are accurately treating your pet for ear mites, it is highly recommended to bring your companion to the veterinarian for a definite diagnosis. A pet doctor will use what is called a “lighted otoscope,” which magnifies the mites. The light attached to the otoscope brings mites to the forefront of their earwax surroundings, creating movement the veterinarian is able to detect. If mites are not readily visible using the otoscope, an examination of the earwax will take place under a microscope.
Negative Effects of Ear Mites
The accurate diagnosis and speedy treatment of ear mites is very important for pets, as a severe infection has the power to weaken or permanently rob animals of their sense of hearing. Rapid detection and remedies will also stop this highly contagious infection from spreading to other animals in a household (when applicable). In a few rare cases, some humans have experienced skin rashes as a result of coming in contact with their infected pet, but this is extremely rare.
As for the pet, the ear mites cause a range of inflammatory symptoms, which bring about the same kind of symptoms as bacterial and yeast infections. The itching and redness of the ears is quite irritating to pets, but when left untreated, more pressing infections may develop. The ear mites may cause skin diseases in animals, which have the capacity to affect the tail and neck of a cat or dog.
Home Remedies for Ear Mites
Oftentimes, remedies for some of your pet’s most pressing medical problems and issues can be found within the comfort of your household. Before considering one of the many treatments on the market for ear mites, check out the following list for ideas on how to use a home remedy for the eradication of this very common condition in pets (especially cats):
a) Corn Oil:
Using a few drops of corn oil (like Wesson) makes a decent home remedy for cat ear mites. First, massage the oil about the inside of the ear, using a cotton ball to clean the infected region. This treatment is repeated for three days. The oil serves three different purposes, as it soothes skin, smothers the ear mites, and speeds the healing process.
b) Mineral Oil:
You may temporarily combat ear mites by soaking a cotton ball with mineral oil and swabbing the inside of your pet’s ears.
c) Almond or Olive Oil:
Some pet owners have used almond and olive oil to treat ear mites. A mixture comprised of ½ ounce of almond (or olive) oil combined with 400 IU of vitamin E should be placed in a dropper bottle. The contents should be warmed to room temperature, where a ½ -full dropper is placed into the ear. It is natural to see your pet shake their head.
Using cotton swabs, gently clean out the opening of the ears. The oil works wonders when applied every other day for a period of six days. The ears should rest for three days, where the treatment steps are then repeated for six weeks to make sure all ear mite eggs are dealt with. This oil treatment not only smothers the majority of ear mites, but also facilitates the healing process.
d) Yellow Dock Root Extract:
A convenient ear mite remedy to make at home may include Yellow Dock root extract, where nine drops of the extract are diluted with one tablespoon of water. Fill half of a dropper with the mixture and place in the ears. It is important to continue this treatment for many weeks (every other day) because ear mite eggs are rather resistant to home treatments, but once they hatch – a continuous treatment will prevent new hatchlings from reproducing until no more eggs exist.
e) Frequent Shampoos:
It is not uncommon to see ear mites travel to other parts of your pet, including the head, outside of the ears, and the tip of the tail, as mites often reach the end of tails when they curl close to the head. A tea infusion using Yellow Dock is known to make an effective final rinse after shampooing.
f) White Vinegar:
Some veterinarians suggest the use of white vinegar for treating ear mites because the acidity helps remove dirt and debris, which also aims to revitalize a healthy equilibrium within the ears. Using a small amount of diluted vinegar is suggested, which is made when combining one part vinegar and two parts of water together. Gently pour the remedy into the ears, making sure to thoroughly massage the solution. This treatment is then followed by a gentle wipe of the inside of the ear using cotton ball.
In : All Natural Pet Care
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