There are a lot of common health issues that can affect your dog. One nuisance is ear mites. Let’s look at ear mites in dogs in detail and how to use natural means to provide relief and get rid of them.
What Are Ear Mites in Dogs?
Ear mites are tiny parasites that infest a dog's ears. They’re called otodectes cynotis, and they feed on skin debris found in the ear canal. They are often seen in dogs, but they can also affect cats and other animals. Ear mites can also be passed from pet to pet through direct contact.
What Causes Ear Mites in Dogs?
Dogs can pick up ear mites in several ways. The most common is through contact with other infested animals. And if you don’t notice ear mites in your dog and keep him apart from other animals, he can spread it to them too. Mites are also present in the environment, where your dog can pick them up.
Ear mite infestations are also common in puppies due to their immature immune systems. So, if you've recently adopted a puppy, pay extra attention to his ear health.
What Do Ear Mites In Dogs Look Like?
Can you see ear mites in dogs? Maybe!
When it comes to identifying ear mites in dogs, it can be challenging to see them with the naked eye because they’re very tiny. Here’s what you might see:
- Ear Discharge: Ear mites can cause a dark, waxy discharge that resembles coffee grounds. This debris is a combination of mites, their waste and earwax. If you notice this kind of gunk in your dog's ears, it could mean he has ear mites.
- Movement: Although difficult to spot, if you look closely at the debris, you might notice tiny white specks or dots moving within it. These are the ear mites themselves.
Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs
Detecting ear mites in dogs can be challenging as the signs can be similar to other ear issues. But there are some telltale signs to watch for such as:
- Excessive Scratching: If your dog is constantly scratching his ears or shaking his head vigorously, it could indicate an ear mite infestation.
- Redness and Inflammation: Ear mites irritate the ear canal, leading to redness, inflammation, and discomfort for your dog.
- Odor: If you notice your dog’s ears have an unpleasant odor it can mean he has an ear mite infestation.
- Secondary Infections: If left untreated, ear mite infestations can lead to other bacterial or yeast infections. They can cause increased discharge, swelling or a foul smell. A severe ear mite infestation can also lead to a torn eardrum.
If you think your dog has ear mites, you can begin the natural methods we’ll describe a bit later. If the itching, inflammation and odor stop, you’ll know you’ve managed the problem. If you want to be sure it is ear mites, you can take your dog to your holistic veterinarian. She’ll use an otoscope to examine your dog's ears and confirm the presence of ear mites.
How to Treat Ear Mites in Dogs
Conventional vets usually prescribe ear drops or topical medications. They may also suggest antiparasitic drugs like flea, tick or heartworm meds, which are toxic and linked to many serious side effects including tremors and seizures. That’s because they are neurotoxins that work by paralyzing the parasite (mite, flea, tick or heartworm) … and that leads to neurological risks for your dog who takes them.
Some dog owners want to do daily cleanings to prevent ear mites but over-cleaning can disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in your dog’s ears. It’s better to just leave your dog’s ears alone unless he’s noticeably uncomfortable.
RELATED: How to clean your dog's ears ...
Home Remedies for Ear Mites in Dogs
Here are some home remedies that can offer relief for your dog:
- Olive Oil: Apply a few drops of olive oil to your dog's ears to suffocate and kill the mites. Use a dropper or a clean cotton ball to apply the oil, and gently massage the base of the ear to distribute it. Use a clean cloth to gently remove the debris.
- Vinegar Solution: Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water to create a solution to clean your dog's ears. Dip a cotton ball or clean cloth in the liquid and gently wipe the inside of the ear, ensuring not to insert it too deeply.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil can help soothe irritated ears. Apply a small amount of melted coconut oil to a cotton ball and gently massage it into the ear canal.
- Green Tea: This can help remove the “coffee grounds” debris. Steep a tea bag or 1T of loose green tea in a cup of hot water. Let it cool and then put 2-4 drops in each ear and massage gently. Dip a cotton ball in the tea and wipe inside the ears.
But the best way to address ear mites is to avoid them.
How To Prevent Ear Mites In Dogs
There are several things you can do to prevent ear mites in dogs.
- Support your dog's immune system by feeding a fresh whole food diet with essential nutrients and probiotics.
- Keep your dog's ears dry after bathing or swimming, to create an inhospitable environment for mites.
- Check your dog's ears regularly for signs of mites or infections so you can tackle them quickly.
- Minimize chemicals in your dog’s environment, as they can weaken his immune system.
- Use natural cleaning supplies in your home and avoid chemical herbicides or fertilizers in your yard.
- Avoid antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs and pesticides that can damage your dog’s immune system.
- Maintain a clean living environment and avoid contact with infected animals.
It's crucial to stay vigilant about your dog’s health and wellbeing. Ear mites are uncomfortable so you want to get rid of them as soon as possible. Remember, early detection and prompt treatment are key to ensuring your dog's ears remain healthy and free from mites.