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Mites are very tiny parasites and, for your dog to have them, he must have had direct contact with another pet infested with the parasites.
The most common form of mite that infects dogs is the Otodectic mite (Otodectes cynotis).
Ear mites usually live in the ear canals and head of dogs. Specially, they live on the skin surface in the ear canals and feed on debris from ear secretion.
Sometimes the mites may also migrate to the dogs' bodies. When this happens, the dog infested with mites will develop itchy spots on his back, neck and tail areas.
Canine ear mites have a three-week cycle and can survive off the host for several weeks.
Ear mites are more common in puppies, although they can be present in dogs of all ages.
Suspect ear mites if both of your dog's ears are involved.
If your dog has ear mites, he will show the following symptoms:
The symptoms above resemble other ear problems such as yeast infection. If your dog shows the above symptoms, it is important to take him to the vet for a proper diagnosis.
Mite infestation can cause outer ear infection in dogs, and can even cause permanent damage to the ear canal or ear drum, resulting in hearing loss.
You can try to confirm mites by removing some waxy discharge from your dog's ears and, using a magnifying glass, look for some white specks that move.
Alternatively, put the waxy ear discharge on a white sheet of paper, or kitchen paper towel, and add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. If you see some brownish red stains on the paper, your dog most likely has mites. The stains are actually digested blood from the ear mites.
Of course, to get a definitive diagnosis, you need to take your dog to the vet for a microscopic examination.
Conventional treatment for dog ear mites may involve the use of a miticide or a flea control product (e.g. Revolution).
If your dog has an ear infection caused by the mites, your vet may also prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. corticosteroids) to treat the infection.
As in many other dog health problems, mite infestation is largely due to a dog's weakened immune system. Dogs with a properly functioning immune system are less likely to be bothered by mites.
It follows that, to take care of the root problem of mite infestation, we should:
A simple way to get rid of dog ear mites is to use mineral oil to smother and kill the mites.
If your dog has mites, simply use an eyedropper to put 2 to 3 drops of mineral oil in each ear.
Also wipe the inside of each ear flap with a cotton ball soaked with mineral oil. Then gently massage the whole ear in circular motions to evenly distribute the oil in the ear.
Repeat 2 times per week for about a month to make sure that all mites are eradicated. Be sure to clean out the ears each time before applying the mineral oil.
If you prefer to go the natural way, consider herbs. Herbs are also effective in cleaning the ears and getting rid of the mites, but it may take a bit longer to work.
Here are some useful herbs that you can try to use:
To make a mullein and garlic herbal remedy for ear mites, simply combine equal parts of mullein oil and garlic oil. Then to every ounce of this oil mixture, add ten to twenty drops of pure olive oil (or vitamin E). Mix well. Apply this oil mixture to the ear canal of your dog and gently massage the dog ear.
Alternatively, you can also get a ready-made Mullein/Garlic oil product from a health food store or online.
Add 2 ml of calendula oil (about 2 dropperfuls) to 8 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well. Use a dropper to apply 3-4 drops of the oil mixture to the inside of the dog's ear and gently massage the ear. Repeat twice daily.
Homeopathic remedies can also be used effectively to treat ear mites in dogs. If you want to use homeopathic treatment, ask a holistic vet about the use of Apis, Pulsatilla, Sulphur or Silicea.
This homeopathic remedy contains Apis, Pulsatilla, Echinacea, etc. and is effective in relieving symptoms of mites, minor ear infection, redness, swelling, and pain.
In addition to eliminating ear mites, it is essential to use herbs and/or dietary supplements to strengthen your dog's immune system. Parasites tend to affect weak hosts more so than strong hosts.
Supplements that can boost your dog's immune system include:
(Dosages: For small dogs - 125 mg twice daily. For medium dogs, 250 mg twice daily. For large dogs, up to 1,000 mg twice daily - decrease dosage if dog has diarrhea.)
In such a case, be sure to consult your vet to determine if your dog is indeed suffering from an ear infection. If so, the ear infection will of course need to be treated accordingly.