Boost Ear Mite Medication Effectiveness: Remove Debris
Product solutions and liquids can kill ear mites only when the medication reaches the ear mite. Help the products work effectively by removing the discharge and debris that ear mites hide in. Your veterinary technician may enjoy teaching you how to do this. Removal is best done using a cotton swab with a rolling lifting motion. Discard the cotton swabs as soon as they pick up some debris so the material doesn't fall off the swab and back into the ear. Plan on using at least a dozen swabs. Take care not to pack the discharge deeper into the canal.
Putting mineral oil in the ear makes it easier to remove discharge, but most pets dislike having liquids placed into their ears. Instead, pour the mineral oil onto cotton swabs to help pick up the debris. Treat the swabs with alcohol or bleach before discarding in the trash. Mites are not necessarily killed by flushing.
Should I medicate my pet for ear mites just in case?
No. Ear mite medications are rather harsh because they have a difficult job to do. Using them more often than necessary may injure the skin within your pet's ear canal. The injured canal will become inflamed and produce cerumen (earwax) so that your pet now shakes their head and has ear discharge—caused not by mites, but by the excessive ear mite treatment.
Work with your veterinarian who will advise you on how often to use ear mite medication so that you don't over use it. Then, let us help you get the medication you need.
Is one treatment enough, or can ear mites return?
Ear mites can return and you may need to treat your pet more than once. Similar to fleas, ear mites lay eggs that have an extremely tough exterior, which makes it difficult to kill ear mites in one treatment. Eggs can be removed from your pet's ears or flushed out, however, most products used to treat ear mites won't kill ear mite eggs. Ear mite medications and products will generally only kill mites that have hatched. That's why most ear mite medications and products are used once, and repeated in 7 days—to give the eggs a chance to hatch out and be vulnerable to the medication. If you wait too long between treatments, though, there will be enough time for the hatched ear mite to lay more eggs. If the second medication dose is skipped, ear mites will appear to return—in truth, they never left because the eggs were not killed.
Your pet may also be reinfected and need to be retreated if he or she comes in contact with other pets that have ear mites.
Can my pet's ear mites infect me?
Yes. However, ear mites have evolved to prefer dogs and cats rather than people. In people's ears, mites die without treatment after a few weeks, but they can be treated and removed as soon as they are diagnosed, just as they are for your pet. People who have had ear mites report that the infection nearly drove them insane because they could hear the scratching in their head, and because of the irritating sensation caused as the mites moved. People also report that they suffered from intense itching, heat, and inflammation.
How should I treat the environment?
Ear mites are spread by direct contact with another pet that has them or by bedding infected pets have been using. Wash bedding with hot soapy water and dry in a hot dryer. Clean the kennels. Treat the environment with a flea-type insecticide once, and repeat the application again in 2-4 weeks.
Do I need to treat all my pets for ear mites?
Ear mites are contagious. If your veterinarian confirms that some of your pets have ear mites, it may be most efficient to treat them all—and the environment—at the same time. If, however, you have pets that do not come in contact with each other, or with each other's bedding, they have had little opportunity to share the ear mites.
When ear mite infections won't clear up
If your pet has an ear mite infection that won't clear up, confirm the diagnosis with your veterinarian. Many pets have allergies that cause intensely itching ears but do not have ear mites. Pets can also have yeast (Malassezia) or bacterial (Staphylococcus or Streptococcus) infections; polyps, foreign bodies, cancer, or traumatic injury that cause symptoms similar to those caused by ear mites.
A few pets, however, will have repeat problems with ear mites. This occurs if the immune system doesn't function well, and your veterinarian may recommend blood tests for diseases that suppress the immune system such as Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV).