” I think my cat has ear mites!!” is a concern we frequently hear from pet parents when they call in to schedule a checkup for their pet.  Most of the time it’s not actually ear mites, but we’ll get back to that….

What are ear mites anyway?

Ear mites are a microscopic parasite.  The most common organism is Otodectes cyanotis. These creatures make their homes in the unsuspecting ears of cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets, feeding off the skin cells and wax (Yuk!).  Ear mites are highly contagious and can be transferred to another pet via direct contact.

How do I know if my pet has them?

Signs of ear mites are typically scratching at the ears, and shaking the head.  You may see blackish discharge in the ears and/or hair loss and excoriations (scratches to the skin ) in front of the ears.

How does my veterinarian diagnose them?

When animals are presented to us for potential ear mites, we always do a thorough cleaning of the ear followed by examining the discharge removed from the ear under our microscope (this is called cytology). When pets have an active ear mite infection we can see them scurrying around the microscope slide.

How do we treat them?

Once your pet has been diagnosed with ear mites, Dr. Flanigan will instill a prescription medication that will kill all mites living in your pet’s ear. We recommend treating all pets inside your home as mites are quite catchy.

What if it’s not ear mites?

Depending on the signalment of your pet (its age and species) ear mites may not be very common. Young kittens or animals in a home that just adopted a cat are likely to have ear mites.  Everyone else most likely has a yeast or bacterial ear infection.  These are much more common.  The only way you’ll know is by going to the vet and having them look at the discharge under the microscope and prescribing the correct medications for the correct type of ear infection.