Published by Dr. Zak Saleh, PhD, MVSc, DVM in Client Education · 22 October 2023
Tags: Cat, Ear, Mites
Tags: Cat, Ear, Mites
Ear Mites in Cats and dogs
Cat owners know the joy of having these furry feline friends in their lives. However, cats can suffer from various health issues, one of which is ear mites. Ear mites are a common problem among cats, causing discomfort and irritation. In this blog, we'll explore what ear mites are, their symptoms, how to treat them, and essential tips for prevention.
What Are Ear Mites?
Ear mites, scientifically known as Otodectes cynotis, are tiny parasites that infest the ears of cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets. These mites are highly contagious and can be easily transmitted from one cat to another through close contact. They primarily affect the ear canal. Ear mites are a type of mite that lives in the ear canal and feeds off skin oils and ear wax. Ear mite infestation is the most common cause of external ear infection in domestic cats, accounting for 50-85% of cases. Dogs could be infected particularly young dogs.
Symptoms of Ear Mites in Cats and dogs:
- Ear Scratching: Cats infested with ear mites often scratch or paw at their ears vigorously causing injury of the skin around ears.
- Head Shaking: Frequent head shaking can be another indication of ear mite infestation as cats try to alleviate the discomfort.
- Ear Discharge: Dark, crusty, or waxy discharge may be visible in the cat's ear.
- Redness and Inflammation: The ear canal may become red, inflamed, or swollen due to the presence of mites and the cat's scratching.
- Hearing Loss: Severe infestations can lead to hearing loss or balance problems.
- An aural hematoma is uncommon symptom but could happen because of head shaking and scratching particularly in dogs
- Dogs can be very pruritic from ear mite infestation. Miliary dermatitis is possible on the rest of body with ectopic mite infestation. Dogs tend to produce less otic discharge associated with ear mites compared to cats.
How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats and dogs:
Treating ear mites in cats involves both over-the-counter and prescription options. Here are the steps to follow:
- Consult a Veterinarian: If you suspect your cat has ear mites, it's crucial to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
- Prescribed Medication: In many cases, the vet will prescribe ear drops, transdermal systemic applications such as selamectin (Revolution), and/or a topical version of ivermectin, and Milbemite.
- Clean the Ears: Gently clean your cat's ears as instructed by your vet using a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaner. Make sure to be delicate, as the ears can be sensitive.
- Environmental Cleaning: Wash your cat's bedding and thoroughly clean your home to prevent reinfestation.
- Treat All Affected Cats: If you have multiple cats, it's essential to treat all of them, even if only one shows symptoms.
Preventing Ear Mites:
Prevention is key to keeping your cat mite-free. Here's what you can do:
- Regular Check-Ups: Schedule routine vet visits for your cat to catch any potential problems early.
- Clean Environment: Maintain a clean living environment for your cat and regularly wash their bedding.
- Isolate New Cats: If you bring a new cat into your home, consider isolating them initially to prevent the spread of mites.
- Avoid Close Contact: If you know a cat with mites, avoid close contact with your cat until the infested cat is treated.