Does My Dog Have Ear Mites?

Your poor beagle Barney is absolutely miserable. When Barney wakes up in the morning, he begins scratching at his ears and head, and he works on himself throughout the day. When Barney’s not scratching, he’s violently shaking his head. Unfortunately, Barney might have a nasty case of ear mites, a contagious parasite infection common to household dogs. Barney can even pass the ear mites to your cat Chloe. You hate to see Barney in discomfort, so you’ve asked your Hancock County veterinarian to diagnose his condition and get him some relief.

Maddening Symptoms

Barney’s incessant scratching seems like an ear mite symptom, and some dogs can damage their ear drums or ear canals from this abuse. Barney’s frequent head shaking can cause him to break an ear blood vessel, allowing blood to pool in that ear. In Barney’s outer ear, you’ll likely see thick black or reddish brown crusts; and you might see bumps that look like coffee grounds in his ear canal. If the mites have migrated to other parts of Barney’s body, he’ll experience maddening all-over itching. You might also see crusting and scaling on his neck, rump, and tail areas.

Diagnostic Detective Work

Since your vet wants a picture of Barney’s general health, he’ll give your dog a thorough physical exam and several lab tests. Your vet will request a Complete Blood Count, a Chemical Blood Profile, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis. Your vet wants to make sure Barney isn’t suffering from other diseases. Also, provide your vet with details about the beginning of Barney’s symptoms, and tell him whether Barney interacts with other animals.

Next, your vet will analyze skin scrapings from Barney’s ear; and he’ll look into Barney’s ear canals with an otoscope. If Barney’s ears are super sensitive from the ear mite infection, your vet might not be able to complete his in-depth exams. In that case, he’ll provide targeted medical treatment first, and will diagnose Barney’s condition based on his response to treatment.

Aggressive Treatment

First, your Hancock County vet will clean Barney’s ears with a dog-specific ear cleaner. He’ll also use an ear mite parasiticide that kills mites and eggs, and he’ll repeat the treatment roughly two weeks later. Your vet can also use a flea treatment to neutralize mites that have migrated elsewhere on Barney’s body. One month after Barney’s initial treatment, your vet will re-swab your dog’s ears and retest for ear mites.

Since ear mite infections are contagious, you’ll probably want to treat all your household pets at once. Cleaning your home very thoroughly will also help to banish these unwelcome little freeloaders.

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