Causes of Ear Mites
Ear mite infestation is almost always caused by contact with an infested animal or its bedding. These tiny mites are extremely contagious between dogs. They can also infest cats, rabbits and ferrets. The average life cycle of ear mites is about 3 weeks. Otodectes mites cannot survive free in the environment, as they have no means of providing themselves with shelter or food. Ear mites spend virtually all of their short lives on a host animal. Fortunately, they are not contagious to people, because they cannot live very long on the skin of humans.
Prevention of Ear Mites
The best way to prevent a dog from becoming infested by ear mites is to prevent it from coming into contact with affected animals. If one dog (or cat, rabbit or ferret) in a household has ear mites, it should be treated vigilantly and isolated from the other pets, in an attempt to prevent them from becoming infested as well. The other animals, and the living environment, should also be treated as a precaution, even if they have not yet developed symptoms of ear mites. Any treatment should be done in accordance with a veterinarian’s specific directions.
While people almost never become infested with Otodectes mites, there is some zoonotic potential. Ear mites will bite people. When they do, they cause a transient rash of raised red bumps, called “papular dermatitis,” which usually develops on the arms of people who come into close contact with infested dogs.
A dog’s ears can become permanently damaged if ear mites are not treated in a timely manner. Over-the-counter ear mite remedies are available. However, the symptoms of ear mites often mimic those of other ear problems. Accordingly, it is important for owners to get a positive diagnosis of ear mites before starting any treatment for the condition.