Lifestyle

Oz: Dealing with ear mites in cats

Whoever has been unfortunate enough to have suffered from an ear infection knows how terrible the pain and discomfort associated with earaches can be.

So, can you imagine having tiny creatures living in your ear canal, constantly causing itchiness and inflammation?

Probably the most common cause of ear infections in cats are ear mites. Ear mites are parasites called otodectes cynotis. They live in the ear canal and feed by piercing the skin.

Unfortunately, most cats adopted from animal shelters, or even cats with indoor and outdoor lifestyles, will contract ear mites at some point in their lives.

Ear mites spread rapidly, and can be transmitted by even brief physical contact with another animal. In pets, ear mites most commonly affect cats, ferrets, and to a lesser extent dogs.

Ear mites are a serious problem and are deeply distressing and uncomfortable for your pet.

Infestation usually occurs in both ears and can cause intense irritation.

Scratching, rubbing the ear, head shaking and ear twitching are the most frequent signs exhibited by affected cats.

The degree of itching varies among individual cats.

It’s common to find hair loss and damage to the skin behind the ears and on the neck due to the intense scratching.

The most typical appearance of an ear mite infestation is presence of dark brown-blackish dry or waxy discharge in the ears. Many people are not aware of ear mites and their symptoms and mistakenly think that this discharge is just dirt.

If left untreated, ear mites infestation can spread to other parts of the body or spread deeper into the ear, jeopardizing the ear drum integrity and put the animal at risk of deafness.

Occasionally, a blood vessel in the ear can rupture, due to the frequent head shaking, leading to a swelling that results from the blood accumulation.

This condition is called aural hematoma and requires surgical drainage.

Ear mites are diagnosed very easily by a microscopic exam of the discharge from the ear.

This exam can be done at any veterinary facility, does not require sedation or anesthesia, only takes a few minutes, reveals immediate results and is very affordable.

Once the diagnosis of ear mites is established, the best course of action is to thoroughly clean the animal’s ears.

The medication for ear mites comes in a few different types of topical drops, applied on the skin or directly into the ear canal. Treatment should be repeated after one month, to kill the next generation of mites that will have hatched by then. Relief, in terms of the animal no longer scratching at its ears, will be noticeable within a few hours.

Ear mites can be prevented by monthly application of topical products to guard against parasites and heartworm. Because ear mites are transmitted so easily from one animal to another, if one animal has it, all the other animals in the household should be treated as well.

Often, I see people notice a problem in their pet and attempt to treat the problem at home based on advice from the Internet.

I always recommend my clients be cautious about using the Net for medical advice.

Beside not knowing the source’s credibility, you should know that some home remedies may lead to other medical problems.

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