Pet Mites - Dog Mites and Cat Mites

Have you noticed your dog or cat scratching its ears?

Of course you have. All animals, including people, occasionally have itchy ears. However, if your pet is constantly scratching them or is rubbing its head on the floor and walking with its head tilted to the side, it may have an ear infection.

There are a few different types of ear problems that afflict cats and dogs. Ear mites are most often seen in cats, but they can also affect dogs. These are tiny little bugs that live in the ears and feed on blood. When they bite the animal, they inject a small amount of saliva, which causes an itchy sensation. Animals with ear mites will sometimes scratch their ears until they bleed. The ears often have a build-up of ear-mite fecal material, which has the appearance of coffee grounds.

Bacterial and yeast infections are also common ear problems. Both bacteria and yeast like to live in dark, warm, moist areas. Ears can provide the perfect habitat, especially floppy ears. Floppy-eared dogs, like cocker spaniels and Labradors, are more susceptible to ear infections than their prick-eared cousins, like German shepherds and Chihuahuas. Floppy ears do not allow air to flow into the ear canal to dry it. This does not mean that prick-eared dogs do not get ear infections; it just means that they are less likely to get them.

Bacterial and yeast infections are itchy and can be painful. The animal may have very red and swollen ears. There might be a thick dark discharge, or the discharge might be more like pus. Yeast infections have a very distinct smell.

Treatment for ear mites and bacterial or yeast infections is available. An ear swab may be necessary to determine exactly which type of infection the animal has, so that the appropriate medication can be prescribed. If the infection is left untreated, the behavior of your pet could change. The animal hurts and does not want to be bothered. When you or your child tries to pet it, the usually very friendly animal may bite.

Regular ear-cleaning sessions will help to reduce the chance of getting an ear infection.

Make sure you dry the inside of the ear after bathing your pet. You can use cotton balls or gauze to get into the ear canal. Never use a cotton swab to clean the ear canal. The animal may jump and you could poke through the ear drum. Special ear-cleaning solutions are available from veterinary facilities, and the veterinarian or technician can show you how to correctly clean your pet's ears.

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