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Ear Mites in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will be able to diagnosis the presence of ear mites if your dog is young, his ears are full of wax or a black, crusty exudate and the insides of the ears have an unpleasant odor.

Ear mites are contagious! You should have all your pets checked for ear mites and, if necessary, treated.

  • A complete medical history and physical examination, with special attention to the ears and skin, is important in determining the cause of the discharge, scratching or head shaking. Ear mites are most often diagnosed by your veterinarian looking into the ear with a lighted otoscope that magnifies the mites so they can be seen.

  • Cytology Exam. This involves taking a sample of the ear discharge and examining it under a microscope. A swab is mixed with mineral oil and placed on a microscope slide. The ear mites can often be observed.

  • A skin scraping may also be performed if your dog shows general skin lesions.

    Some pets may require additional diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of the ear abnormalities. Pets with recurrent ear infections, those who respond poorly to treatment, pets with generalized skin abnormalities, or those with other health problems,
    may need additional diagnostic tests. These tests are not typical with simple ear mite infections. These additional tests may include:

  • Culture and sensitivity. This test is helpful in diagnosing bacterial infections. The procedure involves taking a sample of the ear discharge and sending it to a laboratory to identify the specific bacteria present. The bacteria are exposed to multiple antibiotic samples to determine what will kill them most effectively.

  • Radiographs (X-rays) or CT scans. These may be done to determine the health of the ear canal and bone, and may be used to evaluate the extent of involvement.

  • Complete blood count (CBC) and biochemical profile. Blood tests may be completed to check for contributing factors to the infection as well as to determine the presence of a concurrent disease.

  • Skin tests.

  • Allergy tests. Your veterinarian may want to determine if your pet has allergies that may irritate the ears, as well as the skin.

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