Otodectic Mange In Dogs
If your vet were to tell you that your dog has otodectic mange in dogs, would you know what he or she was talking about? Probably not. But if the vet told you that your dog was suffering from ear mites, this might make a lot more sense. In fact, you would probably conjure up a picture of tiny things inside the dog’s ears chewing away like crazy. And you’d be close to right.
What causes otodectic mange in dogs?
Of the several types of dog mange, otodectic mange is one of the easiest to spot. The villain is Otodectes cynotis, a tiny parasite that can be found hiding deep in your dog’s external ear canal. Your dog can suffer a hypersensitive reaction from having just a few of these mites in its ear or ears. This is because the Otodectes cynotis mites feed by piercing the dog’s skin, which can make your dog itch like crazy. In fact, of the types of dog mange, otodectic mange – or ear mites – is relatively easy to diagnose because the dog will show violent ear scratching and head shaking.
How does a dog get otodectic mange in dogs?
Otodectic mange in dogs - or dog ear mites often affects young dogs that live outside where they can come in close contact with an animal that has otodectic mange. It is highly contagious. This means that if your dog comes down with a case of this dog mange, you will also need to treat any other animals in the house.
Symptoms of otodectic mange in dogs
It is not difficult to notice the symptoms of this type of mange in dogs. As noted above, two of the main ones are violent head shaking and ear scratching. In addition to these symptoms, one or both of the dog’s ears may droop. There may also be a discharge from the dog’s ears that is waxy, crumbly, dry and dark brown – sort of like coffee grounds. Plus, the dog’s earflaps may look red, crusted, excoriated and scabbed. You may also notice a bad odor coming from the dog’s ears as the result of a secondary infection. And, in the worst of cases, the disease can actually perforate the tympanic membrane.
Diagnosing otodectic mange in dogs
It is so easy to diagnose this form of mange in dogs that you can actually do it yourself. In fact, all you need to do is remove a specimen of the dog’s earwax with a cotton-tipped applicator and then examine it against a black background with a magnifying glass. If you see tiny white specs about the size of the head of a pin moving around, then you’ve seen the Otodectes cynotis mites. And you now know that your dog has otodectic mange.
Treatment of otodectic mange in dogs
Treating this form of mange in dogs is relatively simple. But be forewarned. It is so contagious that you will also have to treat any other animal in the house, as well as the dog’s bedding – to prevent infesting the other animal or re-infesting the dog.
To treat the dog for otodectic mange means you must first clean out the ears, using a cotton-tipped swab. You should do this while bathing the dog and make sure water gets into its ears. It may not like this but it is critical. If you leave any wax or cellular debris in the dog’s ears, you will be giving the mites a place to hide out from the ear medication you will use next and, thus, defeat the entire treatment process.
Next, you will need to treat the ears with whichever medication is prescribed by your veterinarian. This will be a miticide, probably one containing pyrethrins and thiabendazole. Nolvamite, Cerumite, Mitox, Tresaderm and Acarex are the ear medications most often prescribed to treat this mange in dogs. Tresaderm may be a better answer than the other four as it contains not just a miticide but also an antibiotic and a steroid to relieve the itching.
As an alternative to a using a miticide, you can treat the dog’s ears with the anti-flea product Revolution® as it has proved to be effective against ear mites. Some vets treat this form of mange in dogs with the drug Ivemectin. But since this represents an “off label” use of the drug, your vet will need to carefully monitor the treatment.
These treatments can fail if you do not treat the entire dog. This is because the ear mites can also live on the tip of the pinna and the base of the tail. What’s more, they are likely to leave the dog’s ears during treatment and migrate to other places. To make sure this does not happen, you will need to continue treating the entire dog for four weeks with a pyrethrin-based shampoo, a pyrethrin-based flea powder or the Revolution. Whichever of these treatments you choose, be sure to follow all the instructions on the label and complete the entire course of treatment. You will also need to treat any other animal in the house with which the dog has had contact.
The good news is that otodectic mange in dogs is an easy mange to treat. So if you see your dog has become infested with the Otodectes cynotis mites, just get out that cotton-tipped applicator and get to work. Your dog will love you for it.