By: Dr. Hilary Slaven
Many clients have heard of ear mites, but are unclear of what the ‘bug’ actually is, what it does, and what it looks like.
The classic ear mite case for us is the 8-week-old kitten that comes in for first vaccinations. The owner reports that she is shaking her head, rubbing the side of her face on the carpet, and scratching the back of her ear repeatedly.
Sometimes the scratching is to the point of an open wound on the back of the ear.
So what are ear mites?
They are a tiny white bug that live on the surface of the skin and ear canals in both dogs and cats. They make their living chewing skin cells with their tiny mouths, which cases an intense itchy and painful feeling.
Typically the ear canal has some black or gray debris down in there, which we clean out and look at under the microscope. This is what we see:
Little alien creatures eating the inside of your furry friend’s ear canal. – Yikes!
So the good news is that this is a treatable problem. There are several products on the market available to clear up an infection and others that help prevent future infections.
It’s important to remember too that ear mites pass easily from cat to cat, from dog to dog, and from cat to dog. So keeping a prevention on a cat that goes in and out of the house is a great idea.