Vet Tony Buckwell on the precautions dog owners should take.
Q: My next-door neighbour’s dog has mites, which has led to an ear infection. We walk the dogs together each day and I was wondering if mine would be at risk? What are dog ear mites and are they catching?
What dog owners need to know about ear mites
- Ear mites are tiny parasites that live mostly in the ear canal.
- They are quite common and cause the lining of the ear to become inflamed, which tends to lead to secondary infection.
- The mites lay their eggs in the ear canal and it takes just three weeks for those eggs to develop into further adults, so infestations can become established quite quickly.
- While mites are generally found in the ears, they sometimes crawl out and infest the surrounding skin, causing similar irritation and itchiness.
- The most common dog ear mites is Otodectes cynotis, which also infests a range of other different species but rarely humans, though some people are particularly sensitive if these mites get on their skin.
Get your dog checked by a vet
- Infection is via contact with another infected animal and so it would do no harm to have your dog checked by your vet, who may suggest preventive treatment even if your dog is found to be clear.
- Be aware that some products used to treat for fleas, ticks and other skin parasites can also be effective against ear mites, so if you regularly treat your dog in this way it is far less likely to have become infected.
- Another point to consider is any other source of infection. Other animals can be infected; especially cats and they can sometimes — but not always — harbour ear mites without necessarily showing any obvious signs, such as scratching their ears or frequently shaking their head. If either of you own a cat or you have cats that frequently visit your gardens, they could be a source of infection for your dogs.
- To eliminate ear mites it is necessary to treat all such other animals in the household, so treat your cats if you have any.