Ear mites(Otodectes cynotis)are parasites that live in the ear canals of cats, dogs, rabbits and ferrets and are the most common cause of ear infection in kittens and young cats.
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The mites cause intense irritation in the ears and on the skin. A dark waxy material will build up in the ear canal and sometimes the mites can be seen as tiny white dots moving on the debris. Crusty lesions and hair loss may develop on the skin from the animal aggressively scratching.
The ear mites are highly contagious and transferred by direct contact with another infested animal. Control of the mites is especially difficult in litters and kennels. In these situations, environmental flea control can be effective in controlling the infestation. Individual animals can be treated by your veterinarian with a local ear medication and/or a topical flea control. If there is more than one animal in the household, all animals should be examined.
The ear mite’s life cycle is 3 weeks long and takes place entirely on the infected animal. However, they can live a very short time in the environment. Ear mites may cause a temporary itchy rash on susceptible people if there are infested pets in the household. Eradication of the mites from the infected animals will cure the problem. Occasionally, the mites can be seen by the naked eye as a tiny white speck moving around on a dark crusty material in the ear.
Your veterinarian will make the diagnosis by visually seeing the mites, looking through an otoscope into the ear canal, or by microscopic examination of debris from the ear. Treatment often requires a thorough cleaning of the ears, administering medication, and a flea spray or shampoo to remove mites that may be on other parts of the body, and treating the indoor environment.
Your veterinarian will advise you about which insecticidal products are suitable for the animal that is infected with ear mites.