Ear Mites And Infections In Dogs

Ear mites and infections in dogs can be an itchy, bothersome problem for you and your furry friend. They can cause bad smell and chronic problems and spread to other pets! However, if you know the signs and treatment options for these two common issues, you can keep your dog happy and healthy.

Ear mites are a small mite that enjoys living in warm, wet place, such as the ear. They feed by eating debris in the ear and may also burrow into the skin for a blood meal. The mites then produce lots of itchy, bothersome waste that can create a dark or bloody debris in the ear. Mites can also produce a foul smell from their debris and make the ears red, swollen, and painful. Mites can be spread from one pet to another, so if one dog or cat in your household has mites, other pets are at a risk too.

Ear infections occur when yeast or bacteria take hold in the ear. The ear is a nice warm, moist place, perfect for the growth of these microbes. Like ear mites, the organisms create an itchy, red, and painful situation for your dog. Yeast infections also tend to get an odor of “baking bread” or “corn chips,” while bacterial infections may just smell bad. There may be yellow or dirt-colored debris that builds up in the ear, even after cleaning.

How Can I Prevent Ear Mites and Infections in My Dog?

Regular cleaning and knowledge of your dog’s breed and ear type can help reduce the incidence of infection and mite infestation. Proactively treating (or avoiding) other animals with mites can help reduce their spread. Dogs with long, down or droopy ears are more prone to infection due to the ear flap preventing airing out of the inner ear and providing a moist environment. However, any dog can get an ear infection or mite infestation.

If debris is spotted in the ear or your dog shakes his or her head a lot, simple cleaning may be enough to prevent an infection from taking hold. You can use a dog-safe ear cleaner from your vet or local pet store and place the cleaner on a cotton swab while gently wiping out the ear with cotton swabs until no more debris is seen. Do not use Q-tips or other long swabs as they can easily get lodged too deeply in the ear, damaging the ear drums!

What Should I Do If I Suspect Ear Mites Or An Infection?

If regular debris is returning even after a cleaning round, it is understood that your dog is bothered by his or her ears.  Or if there is an odor or discharge present, then it is advised to take Fido to the vet. Your vet can inspect the ear using an otoscope to check for signs of infection, such as redness and debris. If debris is present, your vet may take a sample for microscopic testing. This can help your vet see if there are mites present or there are signs of an infection.

Once the cause of symptoms has been determined, your vet can provide a cleaning and treatment routine to help clear up the infection. Mites and infections are usually treated with a medicated ointment along with a cleaning regimen. Most vets recommend cleaning the ear 1-2x daily, then topically applying the ointment in the ears. After a period of 7-10 days, the infection should be gone. You may need to use an Elizabethan collar, especially if your dog is prone to scratching or pawing at his ears as they heal.

Natural Remedies For Ear Mites And Infections

Several natural remedies can be used to help clear up infections and provide relief for your dog.  Bergamot can help reduce the amount of yeast or bacteria in the ear canal as well as Geranium for suspected fungal infections.  Niaouli can also be used as a natural paste for cleaning the ears and removing debris.  Feeding a supplement of Coltsfoot juice may also help boost immunity against infection. Additional immune-boosting supplements, such as Garlic and Echinacea, might help too.

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