Animals acquire ear mites through contact with other animals who have the parasites. A more uncommon way for pets to get ear mites is by sharing contaminated items with other animals with mites. Ear mites can be found anywhere on the pet's body, but spend most of their lives inside the ears, where the mites eat wax. Humans cannot get ear mites, but we can be afflicted by cousins of the ear mite called chiggers.
Chiggers, the Human Affliction
Chiggers are a larval form of a harmless adult mite that eat from human skin by digging a tiny hole in the skin and inserting their mouthparts into the hole. The larvae secrete a substance that eats into skin. Intense itching occurs and red spots that resemble bumps appear on the skin. This usually clears up on its own in a few days. Calamine lotion or cortisone cream relieve the itching while the spots heal.
Symptoms of Ear Mite Infestation
Pets with ear mites feel pain and their ears itch. The pets shake their heads a lot and scratch their ears constantly. When the pain is intense, the animal will scratch lightly to avoid more pain. Animals with ear mites will hold the afflicted ear flat against the head, giving the animal a lop-sided appearance. If both ears are involved, the afflicted animal holds both ears flat, which is noticeable in animals that normally keep the ears upright.
More Symptoms of Ear Mite Infestation
Animals with ear mites have excess ear wax that has a thick, black, crusty appearance. This is actually a combination of wax, the animal's blood serum and ear mite feces that combine together to create a nearly impenetrable wall of black wax that eventually closes off the ear canal and can cause a serious inner ear infection. This secondary infection is noticeable when the animal seems to stagger a lot and loses his balance easily.
Treatments for Ear Mites
Contact a veterinarian as soon as you suspect ear mites. The doctor will want to look at the animal as soon as possible to make an accurate diagnosis. There are natural remedies, such as oils, and chemical treatments available over the counter, but the veterinarian will be able to tell you which is proper to use in the case of your pet. If you use the wrong one, the problem could get worse rather than better.
Dermatitis in Animals
If left untreated, the adult ear mites can leave the ear and take up residence elsewhere on the body, where the mites bite the skin, creating itchy dermatitis that leaves the animal scratching like crazy. This results in torn skin and patchy baldness. Many times the animal's owner thinks that fleas are the problem and tries to treat that condition instead. In all cases, the animal needs to visit a veterinarian immediately for a correct diagnosis.
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