One of the more common causes of ear inflammation and discharge especially in younger puppies and kittens is the presence of ear mites. Ear mites usually come from direct contact with mites in the environment, or from other animals. Symptoms often include dark waxy discharge from both ears, as well as head shaking and ear itching. Some pets will develop other skin symptoms including patchy hair loss and scabs, especially around the head and upper body.
While ear mites may live outside the ear for a period, they will usually die after a short period of time. Rarely, humans may develop scabs and crusts on their skin in some cases; however, this usually resolves after the mites are treated in the animals. Diagnosis of ear mites is usually made by evaluation of ear discharge under the microscope for the live mites or mite eggs.
All animals in a household need to be treated. Many animal guardians will erroneously feel that their adult or older pets may have ear mites, but in those cases yeast and/or bacteria are more often involved, often secondary to underlying allergies. These can be differentiated by evaluation of ear discharge. There are many possible treatments for ear mites, including topical antibiotics such as Tresaderm, as well as other anti-parasitic medications such as topical Milbemite, as well as Acarexx. Some veterinarians will use products with Ivermectin such as Ivomec in treating other pets. The prognosis for ear mites is excellent and cure is likely.
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