As though pet owners didn’t have enough to worry about with ticks, fleas and worms; there’s also another pest that can life for them tricky and though it’s lesser known it’s no less trouble some. The ear mite is an incredibly annoying creature that can effect dogs, cats, cattle and rabbits depending on the breed. They’re also highly contagious meaning they can spread easily and quickly and that your pet is at particular risk if it spends it spends a lot of time around other animals. Even if it does not it’s important to check for the symptoms of an infection, namely scratching and general irritation around the ears, and to treat these symptoms as soon as possible. While there are many chemical means and prescription drugs that can do this job, there are also several forms of home remedy for ear mites you can try yourself that might save you a lot of time and prevent upsetting side effects. These will be listed in this article, along with some information about the nature of ear mites.
Ear mites are ‘arachnida’ – not to be confused with arachnids – which includes other mites such as the dust mite and mould mite (they are delightful creatures…) and ticks. Like cockroaches they are one of the most versatile and abundant invertebrates and survive in all manner of conditions. Possessing a relatively small body, mites are therefore able to go about their daily business without fear of being detected. In fact, most mites are actually microscopic and can be found living almost anywhere from soil to water, to animals to humans (yeah I know… urgh). Ear mites obviously prefer the humble ear as their habitat, particularly cat ears though dogs are also fairly common sufferers.
Things get more complicated however as there are more than one bread of ear mite. The most common ear mite is Otodectes Cynotis, which is particularly fast spreading and can jump from one ear to another with very minimal physical contact. They can even affect humans, though this is fairly uncommon. Ear mites will then set up shop in the ear canal, happy to live in this moist, dark environment with no need for burrowing (thank God for small mercies…). Another species is Psoroptes Cuniculi, which is slightly larger and found more commonly in rabbits, causing thick debris to accumulate in their ear canal leading to visible infection on the outer ear. Look for signs of your rabbit scratching its ears or shaking its head among other signs of distress. This can also affect your animals’ hearing.
Ear mites are parasites that will hatch within for days of being incubated. Larva then emerges to feed on ear wax as well as oils produced by the skin of their ‘host’. The larva will then ‘molt’ to become a protonymph, which further molts to become a deutonymph. This is the equivalent of a teenage ear mite and comes with all the associate horniness of puberty. Interestingly deutonymphs are capable of, and frequently guilty of, mating with adult mites despite not having yet established a gender. After this point a final molting phase begins and the mite becomes a fully grown male or female. Males will continue to find deutonymphs to mate with while females will begin to lay their eggs. Shortly after they will die and the great cycle is complete. All this lasts around two months…
And all that’s going on inside the ear of your pet, or potentially even your own ear. As you can see then, finding some form of home remedy for ear mites is rather essential.
Spotting and diagnosing the symptoms of ear mites in pets is fortunately fairly simple. If your pet is prone to scratching their ears or shaking their heads, then as you might suspect an infection is fairly likely. In some cases your pet might also experience bleeding within the ear canal which will be visible as dried blood around the outside of the canal (this is known as ‘coffee grounds’), though this can also be indicative of various other problems. Pets may also demonstrate loss of hearing (particularly common for cattle) which is easiest to spot in dogs and cats. Left untreated ear mites can leave the ear canals severely damage and can also badly affect the ear drum leading to potentially permanent loss of hearing. Furthermore, left undiagnosed the ear mites might spread to other animals in your household or humans, as well as potentially causing nasty rashes for humans in contact with the pets. Furthermore, ear mite infection can lead to other skin diseases and infections in your pet leaving them prone to further complications. Once you spot any or all of these symptoms then you should bring your pet to vet for immediate diagnosis.
Once your pet has been brought to the vet they will be put under a ‘lighted otoscope’ which is a kind of microscope used in order to magnify the mites. Cleverly the device also shines a light which attracts the mites and bring them to the surface where they can be inspected. This way the vet can get a good look at the creatures affecting your pet and this way distinguish them from other potential parasites or bacteria. Alternatively vets may examine samples of ear wax under the lighted otoscop. If the vet diagnoses the problem to indeed be ear mites, then you are ready to attempt a form of home remedy for ear mites on your pet. However it is crucial that the problem is first diagnosed by a professional less you misdiagnose and so worsen the problem with your treatment.
The home remedy for ear mites that you choose should be talked through first with your vet and then carefully monitored. Below are some suggestions that can save you using chemicals or expensive products on your pets. Be weary that your pet won’t enjoy many of these treatments and you can’t explain to them that it’s for their own good. Two people will most likely be required to hold the animal still and calm them while the other administers the given remedy.
Corn Oil – Corn oil (such as Wesson) can be administered in small drops to act as an effective home remedy that’s particularly useful for cat cases. After applying, massage the oil into the inside of the ear with a cotton bud ensuring not to miss any patches. Repeat this for ten days and the oil should smooth the skin (making traction difficult for your resident pests), smother and drown the mites and help to heal the skin underneath. In this way it is a multi pronged attack that’s also good for the animal and nice and cheap.
Yellow Dock Root Extract – Doc leaves are one of the best remedies for all manner of ailments (the name is no coincidence) and ear mites fall within that list. You can purchase yellow dock root extract yourself then dilute nine drops with a tablespoon of water. Again use half a dropper at around room temperature and drop into the ears before cleaning. This treatment may take a little longer in order to prevent new hatchlings from growing.
Frequent Shampooing – Frequently shampooing you dog is a good way to prevent your dog’s infection from spreading to other parts of the body. While administering the other home remedies then it can be useful to ensure you regularly wash your pet to prevent this process. You can also then rinse your dog with yellow dock after the wash. Regularly shampooing your pet will protect against all manner of other conditions too and has the added benefit of improving your pet’s body odour. Especially prudent then in the case of mutts…
Mineral Oil – Mineral oil is another home remedy that works in a similar manner to the corn oil. To administer, first bathe a cotton bud in the oil so that it gets soaked up, then use it to swab the inside of your pet’s ears. Again three days should be enough to see an improvement.
Almond/Olive Oil – Also popular as a home remedy is almond and olive oil among with vitamin E. Create a concoction of ½ ounce of almond or olice oil mixed with 400 IU of vitamin E and place this inside a dropper bottle (though a syringe with a blunt end can work well too if used carefully). Warm this mixture to roughly room temperature (around 25 C) and then drop around half a full drop into the ear. You pet will most likely shake their head madly and demonstrate distress but don’t worry – you’d do the same. Now use a cotton bud and remove the excess from the outside of the ears (optional). This should be repeated every other day for six days. Again this works by both smothering the mites and healing the wounds.
White Vinegar – Some vets will also recommend the use of white vinegar. The acidity within will help rid the ear canal of dirt and debris may help to kill off the mites. Be certain to first water the vinegar down however with water (around one part vinegar to two parts water) and then gently pour the solution into the ears. This treatment is not suitable for pets with irritable skin or open wounds however as it can cause unpleasant discomfort.
And there you have it, a whole host of home remedies for ear mites – one of which is certain to work. Not so mite-y now!