Ear mites can cause significant irritation to your dog's ears and skin, although they are relatively easy to treat. In this article, our Babcock Ranch veterinarians discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ear mites in cats.
Ear Mites Ear mites, medically known as otodectes cynotis mites, are highly contagious external parasites belonging to the arachnid class. They typically inhabit the surface of the ear canal or the skin.
Despite their small size, ear mites can be observed as fast-moving white spots if you have good eyesight. These eight-legged creatures have a smaller set of thin legs.
If left untreated, ear mites can lead to severe skin and ear infections, making their prompt detection crucial. While humans rarely get infected with ear mites and they are generally not a health risk for people, they are often the underlying cause of ear infections in cats.
Causes of Ear Mites
You might be wondering about the causes of ear mites in cats. How do these parasites enter a cat's ears and cause such discomfort? How does the infection develop, and how are they transmitted from one animal to another?
Due to their highly contagious nature, ear mites can easily spread from one four-legged creature to another. They are most commonly found in cats, but they can also affect dogs and other wild animals. Cats that spend time in boarding facilities or outdoors are at risk of contracting ear mites if they come into contact with other animals or contaminated surfaces like bedding or grooming tools.
Shelter cats are also prone to ear mite infestations, so it's important to have your newly adopted cat checked for ear mites and schedule a routine examination with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Signs of Ear Mites in Cats
Common signs of ear mites in cats include:
- Scratching at ears
- Head shaking
- Dark, crusty, or waxy discharge from the ear resembling coffee grounds
- Hair loss or irritation due to excessive scratching around the ears
Treating Ear Mites in Cats
If your cat is diagnosed with ear mites, your veterinarian will prescribe antiparasitic medication, either in topical or oral form. Additionally, your vet will likely remove the characteristic wax and discharge associated with these parasites from your cat's ears and may prescribe a course of antibiotics based on the severity of the infestation.
Your vet will also check for any secondary infections resulting from the mite infestation and treat them accordingly. It's advisable to follow up with another visit to the vet after a week or two to ensure the mites have been eradicated and that further treatment is unnecessary.
Given the contagious nature of ear mites, your veterinarian may recommend medication for other pets in your household to prevent the infestation from spreading.
We do not recommend using home remedies for treating ear mites in cats. While some methods may kill the mites, many at-home treatments do not eliminate the eggs, leading to a re-infestation when the eggs hatch.
Preventing Ear Mites in Cats
Regular checkups and ear cleanings for your cat at your veterinarian's office can help prevent more severe ear mite infestations. Additionally, it's important to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and your home thoroughly to eliminate any stray mites. Your vet can also recommend parasite prevention products for your feline companion.
Note: The information provided in this post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice for pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.