Ear mites are a tiny spider like parasitic mite that infect the ears of dogs and cats. They usually live in the ear canals but can live on other parts of the dog or cat's body. Ear mites are the most common cause of ear infections seen by vets. They are more commonly found in cats.
Some breeds of dogs are more prone to ear mite infections, especially dogs with long floppy ears. The ear mites thrive in the warm moist area where the air flow is restricted.
Ear mites feed on epidermal debris and ear wax. They burrow into the ear, causing inflammation which the body responds to by producing more wax.
Ear mites are terribly uncomfortable for your pet. Usually the first symptom you notice will be your pet is scratching his ears or shaking his head. His ears may be painful to touch and he may cry in pain when you touch them or while he is scratching them.
Inside the ear of an infected dog or cat you will see dark reddish brown or black debris (this is the discharge from the mites) throughout the ear canal which looks somewhat like coffee grounds.
Ear mite infections can be serious if left untreated resulting in damage to the ear canals and eardrums and leaving deformity of the ears and possible deafness. Secondary bacterial or yeast infections are also common so it is important to consult your veterinarian.
Dr. Pitcairn in his book "Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats", recommends: A mixture of 1/2 ounce of almond or olive oil and 400IU vitamin E (from a capsule) makes a mild healing treatment for either cats or dogs. Blend them in a dropper bottle and warm the mixture to body temperature by immersing it in hot water. Holding the ear flap up, put about 1/2 dropper-full in the ear. Massage the ear canal well so that you hear a fluid sound. After a minute of this, let the animal shake its head. Then gently clean out the opening (not deep into the ear) with cotton swabs to remove debris and excess oil. The oil mixture will smother many of the mites and start a healing process that will make the ear less hospitable for them. Apply the oil every other day for six days (3 treatments in total). Between treatments, cap the mixture tightly and store at room temperature. After the last oil treatment, let the ear rest for three more days.
Once the ears are cleaned out, one of the simplest ways to kill mites is with the herb Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus). You can purchase this herb in the form of a tincture. Dilute it, three drops herb to one teaspoon of pure water or nine drops to one tablespoon. Apply it in the same way as the oil, above. Treat the ears once every three days for three to four weeks. You may need to shampoo your pet because the mites hang out around the outside of the ears and head.
Ear mites are very contagious and can be passed on from dog to dog or cat to dog, etc. It is important to treat all of your pets at the same time.