Ear mites are a relatively common parasite of dogs and cats. They are tiny infectious organisms resembling microscopic ticks. The mite can just barely be seen as a small white dot with the naked eye but usually must be detected by examination of a sample of ear wax under a microscope. Infection usually produces a characteristic dry black ear discharge commonly said to resemble coffee grounds. Because of the classical appearance of this discharge, infection is often diagnosed based on this discharge although without visual confirmation of the mite under the microscope, it is possible to be led astray. The discharge is composed of ear wax, blood, inflammatory biochemicals, and the ear mites themselves.
The mite lives on the surface of the ear canal skin, although it sometimes migrates out onto the face and head of its host. Eggs are laid after 4 days of incubation they hatch. The adult mite lives for approximately two months, happily eating ear wax and skin oils. The life cycle (the time it takes for an egg to develop into an adult mite ready for parenthood) requires three weeks.
Most ear mite cases are found in cats. Dogs can be infected as well but, since dogs more commonly get ear infections of other types, ear infections in dogs usually do not involve mites.
Ear mites readily transmit from host to host by physical contact. Ear mites came from some other animal with which your pet has been socializing. Because mites are easily transmissible by physical contact, treatment for mites often must include all household pets.
The ear mites are inflammatory and they can generate very irritating ear infections. Skin disease can also result from infection by the ear mite.
Ear mite infection is certainly contagious among cats and dogs. Typically, the victim is an outdoor cat. Humans have been reported to develop skin rashes rarely; in general, we may consider that a human pet owner is extremely unlikely to experience any symptoms when their pet is infected with ear mites.
For more information on ear mites, read more here!
Information taken from The Pet Health Library
By Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP
Educational Director, VeterinaryPartner.com