- Ear mites are extremely contagious and can be spread between cats, dogs and other household pets. These parasites live in the ear canal and have a small, crab-like appearance. On a single dog, there can be thousands of ear mites present. Thus, any dog displaying symptoms of ear mites should be seen by a veterinarian for immediate treatment.
- Scratching is one of the first and most common symptoms that a dog has ear mites. Infected dogs will scratch at their ears excessively, which can lead to other symptoms.
- When excessive scratching occurs, the ears can become severely red and inflamed. Swelling can be mild to severe, which can lead to other serious damage to the ear canal.
- When the skin is irritated or an open wound or inflammation occurs, it presents an opportunity for bacteria or fungi to enter and multiply. Commonly, ear mite infestations are often accompanied by a yeast infection, but bacterial infections can also occur.
- If a secondary infection has occurred, such as a yeast infection, it can lead to a strange or foul odor. The odor often comes from within the ear, but in severe cases it may be noted by the owner when simply coming in contact with the dog.
- Many dogs may also shake their head frequently in an attempt to dislodge the itchy little mites. Shaking is often accompanied by pawing or scratching at their ears.
- Ear mites feed off tissue debris and fluids, which can leave behind a thick discharge. The discharge is often black and crusty, similar in appearance to coffee grounds. However, if you clean out your dog's, the black discharge may have a slight reddish to brown tinge.
- In severe infestations, the ear mites will cause mild to severe bleeding within the ear canal. The owner may see this displayed as fresh blood, or it can be older, dried and crusty.
- Ear mites can also live outside of the ear canal on the affected dog's tail, neck and back. This can lead to severe itching and in extreme cases, dogs can suffer from hair loss, redness and mutilated skin.
- If left untreated for excessive periods of time, ear mites can permanently damage the hearing of a dog. Hearing loss can be partial, but in extreme cases there can be full hearing loss.