What are Ear Mites?
As the name suggests, ear mites are a tiny spider like parasitic mite that infect the ears of dogs and cats. They usually live in the ear canals but can live on other parts of the dog or cat’s body. Ear mites are the most common cause of ear infections seen by vets. They are more commonly found in cats than dogs but are a considerable cause of ear infection in dogs too.
Ear mites thrive in the warm moist area where the air flow is restricted. They feed on epidermal debris & ear wax. They burrow into the ear, causing inflammation and irritation which the body responds to by producing more wax.
What are the Symptoms of Ear Mites in cats?
Ear mites are terribly uncomfortable for your cat. Imagine how it would feel having thousands of little bugs running around in your ears.
Usually the first symptom you notice will be your cat scratching his ears or shaking his head due to the extreme itchiness that the mites cause.
You may notice that your cat’s ears appear flattened or laid back. His ears may be painful to touch and he may cry in pain when you touch them or while he is scratching them. You may also notice a foul odor coming from the ears.
Cats may cause Self Inflicted Injuries due to Ear Mites
Cats with ear mite infection may cause damage to their ears by scratching them. Often their ears will bleed as a result of this.
Damage can also be done by shaking their heads with such intensity that small blood vessels are broken in the ears and hematomas form. (see picture at top of page)
Signs of Ear Mites
If you have a look inside the ear of an infected cat you will see dark reddish brown or black debris throughout the ear canal which has been described as looking like coffee grounds. This debris comprises of ear wax and blood. Ear mites are visible to the naked eye (but can be seen better with a magnifying glass) and can be seen as white dots among the dark debris. You may even see them moving around.
Your vet will look in your cat’s ear with a magnifying instrument called an otoscope and may inspect the debris from the ear under a microscope for a more definite diagnosis. Ear mite infections can be serious if left untreated resulting in damage to the ear canals and eardrums and leaving deformity of the ears and possible deafness.
Secondary bacterial or yeast infections are also common so it is important to consult your veterinarian.
Your cat might require antibiotics for secondary infections.
Treatment of Ear Mites. How Do I Get Rid Of Ear Mites?
Revolution is a Parasiticide which is applied to the skin of cats six weeks of age and older. Revolution, a top spot treatment, is used once a month and is applied to the skin just above the shoulder blades of the cat… not used directly on the ears.
- Treats and controls ear mites
- Kills adult fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching.
- Prevents heartworm disease caused by Dirofilaria immitis.
- Treats and controls roundworms and hookworms
- Treats and Prevents ear mites in cats and dogs
- Heartworm prevention
- Flea and lice treatment
- Treatment of gastrointestinal worms
- Treatment and prevention of lungworms in dogs
- Control of sarcoptic mange in dogs
- Control of Demodex mites in dogs
You can purchase ear mite treatments from your usual pet supply store or your veterinarian will prescribe an oily insecticide to treat the ear canals.
The black ear gunk has to be cleaned from the ear canal daily to ensure the medication can reach the mites. The best way to do this is with a cotton ball or soft cloth dipped in vegetable oil.
After cleaning the ears the medication should massaged deeply into the cat’s ears taking care to get into all the nooks and crannies of the ear canal.
It is important to follow your vets or the products instructions for the application of the treatment. Do not cease treatment because it appears the ear mites have gone. You must continue for two weeks to beat the life cycle of the mite.
Are Ear Mites Contagious?
Ear mites are very contagious and can be passed on from cat to cat or cat to dog and visa versa so it is important to treat all of your pets at the same time.
Can Humans Catch Ear Mites?
No, humans are not affected by ear mites.