Ear mites are a common external parasite that can cause severe irritation to the ears and surrounding skin in both cats and dogs, although they are more common in cats. Today our Capitola vets share the symptoms, causes, and treatments available for ear mites.
What are ear mites?
Ear mites, or otodectes cynotis mites, are a common external parasite found in cats. They live on the surface of the ear canal and sometimes on the surface of the skin.
Ear mites are extremely contagious and can cause severe irritation for your feline companions. Ear mites are fairly easy to treat but if left untreated can cause severe ear and skin infections. When cats are brought into the vet with complaints of ear infections, ear mites are often the culprit.
Causes of Ear Mites in Cats
Ear mites are highly contagious and can easily spread from one infected animal to another. Although most prevalent in cats, ear mites can be found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time outside or in boarding facilities they could easily pick up ear mites from getting too close to another animal or through touching contaminated surfaces like bedding or grooming tools.
Mites are common in shelter cats. Be sure to check newly adopted cats for ear mites and bring them to your vet for a routine exam as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Ear Mites
The most common signs of ear mites in cats are:
- Scratching at ears
- A dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear that looks like coffee grounds
- Irritation or hair loss from excessive scratching around the ears
How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats
Thankfully, when it comes to ear mites in cats, the treatment is pretty straightforward. If your cat is diagnosed with ear mites your vet will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication. Medications are available in topical or oral form. Your veterinarian may also clean your cat’s ears with an appropriate cleaning solution.
Your vet will also assess if there are any secondary infections present from the infestation and treat them as required. Your vet will probably suggest you return to the office in a week or two to ensure the mites are gone and that further treatment is not necessary.
Due to the contagious nature of ear mites, your vet will probably also prescribe medication for any other household pets to ensure the infestation doesn't continue.
Home remedies for ear mites are not advisable. While there are some methods that can kill mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the eggs of the mites. So while it may appear that the mites are gone, the infestation will start again when the eggs hatch.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.