Ear infections are an ailment very common in dogs, and most will suffer from it at some point in their lives. Some dogs are much more prone to ear problems, either due to breed or to each dog’s individual makeup.
One of the more common causes of infection is the tiny mite. Mites are actually very common and there are several different types that can reside in the ears of dogs and cats.
The most common of these are a minuscule, eight-legged parasite called ovotestes cynotis mites, or, as most people simply know them, ear mites.
Often these mites only result in a mildly irritating and easily treatable infection. Some dogs, however, have a sensitivity or allergy to them and can develop a much more complicated and intense irritation.
The life cycle of an individual ear mite is about 3 weeks and these tiny creatures are barely visible to the naked eye. They are highly contagious and most often found in the ears of outdoor cats which can easily infect other animals that they come into even brief contact with.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of mite infestation in your dog may include shaking of the head and excessive scratching that can lead to injuries such as broken blood vessels and blood pooling as well as damage to the eardrum or canal.
This ailment occurs most commonly in younger dogs, though there is, unfortunately, no age during which a dog is completely immune.
The symptoms of mites can be easily seen in your dog’s ear. Noticeable signs include redness and obvious irritation and inflammation, small black dots that are most likely dried blood, thick crusts of blood and build up in the outer ear and strong odor.
The bursting of blood vessels due to vigorous scratching can also cause the ear flap to appear swollen and the area will become painful to the touch. Infection can be detected by the presence of a dark waxy discharge.
If left untreated, this brown debris, which can look similar to coffee grounds, can build up enough to entirely obstruct the canal.
If a more intense irritation and infection occur it is usually best to consult a vet and look into what medicines or antibiotics can be given to your dog to clear up the problem.
Though effective for easing discomfort and ridding your dog of mites and infection, most medications are temporary and don’t prevent the problem from recurring. There are, however, several effective home remedies that can be employed to stave off ear mites and avoid painful and more costly infections.
Eradimite seems to be a highly effective, solution for ear mites. It uses low doses of pyrethrins to kill and unwanted ear guests, whether they be ticks or mites.
It uses aloe vera as it’s base which also aids in healing any wounds left behind by the mites. Plus, the fluid is thick enough to help suffocate the troublesome visitors.
Simply apply 10 drops to each ear and then gently massage and rub the base of each ear to help the fluid work its way past any ear wax and penetrate the ear where the mites love to hang out. (Besides, what dog doesn’t love a little ear rubbing?)
This treatment can also be applied once a month as a preventative measure to keep the mites from being a problem (or to help stop a recurring infestation.
Dog Ear Infection Home Remedies
One of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to treat and ward off ear mites when they first occur is to apply a mix of one part water and one part vinegar to the inside of your dog’s ear.
The vinegar will kill off the mite eggs due to its acidic nature. It also can help to clear out dirt and debris.
For small dogs, this is best accomplished by soaking a cotton ball in the solution and then wringing it out into their ear, while holding their head still. A dropper is also a very effective way to get the solution into their ears.
Before allowing them to shake out the excess liquid, massage the base of the ear a bit to move the liquid around and give it the best chance of reaching all of the unwelcome pests and build up.
This also helps to dislodge and clean out any crusty build up that has started to form. Once this is accomplished allow your dog to shake and rid their ears of the leftover solution.
Follow up this treatment with a few drops of olive oil which will continue to kill off the remaining live mites as well as provide some relief to the irritated ear.
A temporary solution for fighting mites is the use of mineral oil. Swab the inside of your dog’s ear with a cotton swab soaked in mineral oil. You can also soak a cotton swab with a mix of equal parts peroxide and rubbing alcohol and gently coat the inside of the ear.
Another remedy that is also quite soothing to the ear is the use of aloe vera gel. Simply break off a small end of the leaf and apply the gel to the inside of the ear with a soft cotton swab. This remedy is very effective and provides visible results within just a matter of days.
Additional options are applying Vick’s Vapor rub every 24 hours, cleaning out the ear prior to every application or applying half of a dropper full of a mix of 7 drops yellow dock root extract that has been diluted with a tablespoon of water.
Since mite eggs can be rather difficult to kill with home remedies it is important to repeat the yellow dock root treatment every other day for several weeks to ensure that all mites are killed as they hatch.
All of these options are a good place to begin if you are hoping to avoid medications. Remember, however, that it is always a good idea to check with your vet, especially if the infection or irritation persists or becomes severe enough to require more intense treatment.
Once you have rid your pet of infection, be sure to take preventative measures to help minimize the chances of the mites returning and initiating the entire process over again.
Regular cleaning of your dog’s ears is important for ear health and cleaning out their bedding as well as treating other animals in their surroundings is essential to keeping the pests from returning.