Ear mites (otodectes cynotis) are tiny crab-like infectious parasites that is barely seen by eye and appear as small little white dots. They live most of their life on the surface inside dog’s ear canals and body.
Ear mites is not like fleas because they do not suck blood or pierce the skin but feed on ear wax (cerumen), tissue fluids and debris causing itch, irritate and severe inflammation on the area.
These little parasites are very contagious and able to spread to other dogs in the household by physical contact.
Dogs may suffer from ear mites when they shake their head, scratching their ears excessively or having abnormal odor spread out from their ears. It can occur at any age but are more common in younger dogs.
These microscopic white insects have only three week cycle and able to survive for several weeks off the host. Female ear mites lays her eggs in the surrounding dog furs or ear.
These eggs will hatch approximately after 4 days incubation period and the larva will feed on skin oils or ear wax for about 1 week then molt in to protonymph stage follow by deutonymph stage. mite does not develop their gender yet at this stage until they start mating with adult male. If it is a female then she will start to lay eggs and the cycle continue on and on.
Dog ear mites symptoms
- unpleasant odor
- ear canal inflammation
- unusual head tilt
- head shaking
- loss of balance
- increased earwax
- thick, dark black crusty ear discharge resembling coffee grounds
- constant ears scratching
- frequent head shaking
- refuse to eat
- sores due to excessive scratching
The symptoms are often mimic other type of ear diseases such as for example a yeast infection can also produce a black exudate which often mistaken when diagnosing the symptoms so accurate diagnosis is very important.
Ear mites can be seen by using medical equipment that have light and magnifying lens such as otoscope or sometime called auriscope.
The light from otoscope will make the mites to crawl out of ear wax causing them to move around the area.
If these little mites doesnot shown up in your dog ear then veterinarian will have to do further examination such as cell structure analysis using microscope (cytology), bacterial infections, radiographs (X-rays) or computed tomography (CT) scans, complete blood count (CBC), skin and allergy tests.