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postheadericon Try as we may, there are certain afflictions that our animals seem to be prone to contracting despite our best efforts

Try as we may, there are certain afflictions that our animals seem to be prone to contracting despite our best efforts.  Ear mites are one of those maladies.  Ear mites can affect cats and dogs and left untreated can cause considerable harm.  Therefore, all pet owners need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of ear mite infestation and understand the necessary treatment.

An ear mite is a tiny insect related to the tick.  The feast off of the blood of your pet and burrow into the skin.  If viewed under a microscope they look like tiny crabs.  Once the mites have a firm hold with the tiny hooks on their legs, they are impossible to remove and must be killed.

The most common area of infestation is along the outside edges of the ears.  The ears are relatively dirty areas, especially on a dog, and the mites feast off of the dead skin and dirt found there.  The mites can quickly move from one animal to another through contact or through contaminated bedding.  In rare cases the mites can even infect humans, though it’s rare due to normal human hygiene.  Once one of your pets is infested, the rest of your menagerie will soon exhibit the tell tale ear scratching behavior of the afflicted.  A serious infestation can prevent the animal from sleeping and nearly drive them insane.

This furious scratching causes its own complications.  Often the animal will scratch until the skin is raw and bleeding.  As the mites multiply, they move farther and farther into the ear, leading to hearing problems.  Ears can be permanently scarred.  These wounds then become infected and if left untreated can be life threatening.  A good pet owner will never let the condition progress to this stage.

Preventive measures as always are the best option, followed by early treatment.  Owners should inspect their pets’ ears regularly for signs of infestation.  Vigorous scratching or shaking of the head will probably be the first sign that ear mites are present.  Visible indicators will look like dirty spots in the ears and there will usually be signs of bleeding.  Ears should be cleaned inside and out, especially if the animal has large floppy ears.  Medicated washes are available that can treat mild cases if caught early.  More serious cases might require medications and antibiotics to treat for infection.

Though difficult to prevent, ear mites are easily treated and should not cause a major problem.  However, if you ignore your pet’s health and hygiene, ear mites can blossom into a serious health problem.  Save yourself the annoyance and your pet the discomfort and perform routine checks every couple of weeks.  This simple measure is all that is required to keep this parasite at bay.

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