Diagnose and Treat Dog Ear Mites

Ear mites, unlike most other dog parasites, feed on the skin, usually inside the ear canal. While other parasites depend upon blood to survive, or attach to internal regions like the intestines, ear mites live externally and irritate the skin by feeding off tissue debris and fluids. These mites have a crab-like appearance and can multiply and spread rapidly. Ear mite infestation is best known for its black, crusty ear discharge, though other infections like yeast and bacteria can cause the same effect.

Diagnosing Ear Mites

Fortunately, treatment of ear mites is relatively simple, once proper diagnosis has been made. Due to the similarity in symptoms among many conditions, determining the presence of ear mites can be tricky. Signs include black discharge resembling coffee grounds in the ears, inflammation, swelling and redness. Your dog will likely be found shaking his head or excessively scratching at his ears. Anti-mite treatments can worsen symptoms if bacteria or yeast is present, or if the inner ear is infected, so it's recommended to have a solid diagnosis before beginning treatment. 

Medicinal Treatment of Ear Mites

Beginning treatment with a clean ear is essential. Wash the ear with a soft rag and warm water, but do not use cotton swabs as they can cause damage to the ear canal by pushing infection and debris further in. There are many treatments available for eliminating ear mites. If you opt for medicated remedies, select one containing an insecticide, such as ivermectin. Products lacking insecticide are not effective at ridding mites from the ears. You will likely be given a topical remedy to apply inside the ear once or twice daily. If ear mites have migrated to your dog's head, back or tail, a flea product containing insecticide will usually be prescribed or recommended.

Natural Remedies for Treating Ear Mites

One excellent remedy for treating ear mites in dogs is by using mineral oil. Since this is a natural product, it will not cause any unwanted side effects, and your dog will receive additional benefits from its use. Not only will mineral oil smother and kill ear mites, but ear wax and other substances plugging your dog's ears will be dissolved. Simply apply a few drops of the oil into the base of the ear with an eye-dropper or ear irrigation pump. Massage the base of the ear to allow the oil to move around and saturate the affected area. Once finished, your dog will want to shake his head. This is perfect, but you may want to administer the mineral oil in a smaller room, or outside, as loose ear wax may make a mess. After the episode, you may wish to give the ear another good wash or cleaning with a cotton ball or wet rag. Apply mineral once daily as necessary.

Dangers of Ear Mite Infestation

While ear mites are generally not life-threatening, they are quite irritating. Inspect your dog's ears regularly and treat them for ear mites as necessary. Untreated, ear mites can cause severe blockage and affect surrounding glands, as well as your dog's balance. Serious fungal or bacterial infections may result as well.