Otodectic mites tiny insects living in the ear canal and feeding by piercing the skin in the canal. Very contagious to animals, but not humans, these are the most common cause of ear symptoms in most puppies and young adult dogs. Don’t confuse ear mites with the mites that cause sarcoptic mange, entirely different infestation but signs will still include crusty ear tips. Cheyletillosis often called “Walking Dandruff” is highly contagious and typically found in young dogs and puppies. Caused by large reddish mites that can infest kennels and pet shops, they live on the surface of the skin, and die within 10 days when they are off of the dog host. This is less prevalent because people are using flea-control that also kills cheyletiella mites.
With only a few ear mites a severe hypersensitivity can be produced and will cause intense itching and scratching, or even a violent shaking of the head. The ear flaps will be red, excoriated, crusted and have scabs. You will notice dry, crumbly, dark brown, waxy discharge that looks like coffee grounds in the canals and a foul odor due to infection.
These can be identified by taking a specimen of the wax on a cotton-tipped applicator and examining it under a telescope or a magnifying glass against a black background. You will see white specks the size of a head of a pin and they will be moving.
The treatment is to clean the ear canal of all wax and cellular debris and medicating them with a miticide ear preparation that is prescribed by your veterinarian. Be sure to treat all infested areas in the home to prevent re-infestation, also treat all the pets in the home including the house bunny or ferret. This is essential to fully eliminate the problem.