Ear mites are the leading cause of ear infection in dogs and cats, so it is very important that you are aware of what to look for when trying to identify an infestation. While the tiny mites may seem harmless, an infestation may easily lead to infection, hearing loss and major discomfort. Because these nearly invisible mites are serious business, here are five facts that should help guide you to making the best decisions toward helping your friends heal.
1. Keep ‘Em Clean
Keeping your pet’s ears clean and free of debris is an excellent way to maintain good ear health. While it is nearly impossible to prevent dogs and cats from contracting ear mites from other animals, good ear hygiene will give a bit more protection by removing mites before they are able to reproduce, and removing their primary nutrient intake, excess skin cells and wax. It is also beneficial for consistent cleaning, because you are more likely to identify and remove an infestation before infection occurs.
2. Casual Contact is All it Takes
Ear mites can jump from one animal to the next with very little contact. They are considered highly, highly contagious. So if one of your pets has an infestation, it is important to check all your pets. Keep infected pets separate from others until the infestation has been cleared up. Wash all the bedding to help prevent an infestation from returning.
3. It Might Just Look Dirty to You
A visible indicator, that your pet is infested with ear mites, is the dark brown coffee ground-like particles left behind by the mites. At first, it may just look like dirt, so be aware. Sometimes the mites are a bit visible if there are a lot of them, but do not count on seeing movement. The dark particles are a definitive sign.
4. They Can Do Some Damage
Ear mites can cause some serious damage if left untreated. They often cause ear infections, which can result in a number of serious consequences, including permanent hearing loss. Even though some mites do not burrow under the skin, they do carry bacteria, and if the skin gets broken, that bacteria may cause infection.
5. Houses with Multiple Cats and Dogs Beware
Due to the highly contagious nature of ear mites, it is common that households with multiple animals become a breeding ground for infestation. The likelihood of the infestation spreading to all other animals is high. Treating each animal and keeping the environment and bedding clean can help prevent further infestation.