Ear mites are a common external parasite that can irritate the ears and surrounding skin in both cats and dogs, though they are more prevalent in cats. Today, our Beacon veterinarians will discuss the symptoms, causes, and available treatments 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. For reference, we've attached a picture of what ear mites might look like in cats to this blog.
Ear mites are highly contagious and can cause significant irritation in your feline companions. While ear mites are relatively easy to treat, they can cause severe ear and skin infections if left untreated. Ear mites are frequently the culprit when cats are brought to the veterinarian with complaints of ear infections.
What Causes Ear Mites in Cats?
Ear mites are extremely contagious and easily spread from infected animals to other animals. Although ear mites are most common in cats, they can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time outside or in boarding facilities, he or she may easily contract ear mites by coming into close contact with another animal or by touching contaminated surfaces such as 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 how to get rid of 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.
Additionally, your veterinarian will determine if any secondary infections are present as a result of the infestation and treat them as necessary. Your veterinarian will almost certainly recommend that you return in a week or two to ensure that the mites have been eliminated and that no further treatment is required.
Due to ear mites' contagious nature, your veterinarian will almost certainly prescribe medication for any other household pets to ensure the infestation does not spread.
It is not recommended to use home remedies for ear mites. While some methods are effective against mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the mites' eggs. Thus, even if the mites appear to be gone, the infestation will resume 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.