Ear mites (ear mites, otodectic mites) affect dogs, cats and ferrets. The external ear canals are invaded by Otodectes cynotis parasites measuring less than 1 mm in length. The parasites (Otodectes cynotis) feed on earwax and dead cells.
Diagnosis is based on clinical appearance:
- Abundant dry brown-black earwax (however, some cats do not show excess secretion)
- Ear pruritus
- Rarely: excoriations and crusts near the auricles. These lesions can be induced by scratching and sometimes by skin contamination
Examination of the ear canals with an otoscope or videoscope and microscopic examination of the earwax can visualise the Otodects
Local treatment, the application of certain systemic spot-on products or, in dogs, the use of certain antiparasitic tablets, can cure ear scab. There is no such thing as chronic, recurrent ear scab unless the dog, cat or ferret becomes re-infected by contact with an affected animal or if treatment has not been successful. It is recommended to treat all animals in contact, to clean the ear canals using effective products with low ototoxicity and to check the ears after treatment to avoid the carrying of parasites
Ear mange is highly contagious from one animal to another but no case of contamination from animals to humans has ever been described