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These mites (Otedectes cynotis) are a common cause of ear disease in dogs and cats, especially younger animals. These mites have a three-week life cycle, are large enough to see with the naked eye, and feed off of epidermal debris and fluid. What is not commonly known is that not only are ears affected. These mites can be found anywhere on the body especially the neck, rump, and tail. Some cases may actually resemble fleabite hypersensitivity. This is part of the reason why this is such a contagious problem. Most cases of ear mites we see involve mainly the ears causing a mild or severe otitis externa with a few cases presenting with a ruptured eardrum producing a middle ear infection (otitis media). Commonly, a black, crusty discharge with head shaking or ear scratching is observed.
A veterinarian can determine if your pet is suffering from ear mites by doing an exam of the ear using an otoscope. If evidence of earmites is visible an earswab can be done that can be further examined under a microscope to verify if mites are a problem for your pet.
Treatment principles are similar to most parasitic problems. The two most important concepts are:
1. Treatment of the animal and its environment.
2. Treatment of all in contact animals
It is true however that for most simple cases, treatment of the ear itself is enough. The healthy animals' immune system usually takes care of the rest. In the case of severe or recurring infections, applying the above two concepts should eradicate the problem. Be careful of what you apply to the ears - it is important to make sure it is an uncomplicated mite infection and that the eardrum is intact. In addition, some fluids may allow for a secondary yeast or bacterial infection to occur.