How to Prevent and Treat Ticks and Ear Mites in Dogs

Posted on
November 17, 2018

Ticks and Ear Mites are two of the most common biting creatures on dogs. Read on to learn how to treat your dog for these harmful skin parasites.

  • How to prevent ticks
  • How to remove ticks
  • How to identify ear mites
  • How to treat ear mites

Ticks

If you like to take your dog on hikes often, there is a good chance that he or she will get a tick. They are commonly found in grassy or woodland areas in all of the United States. Different ticks occupy different regions. The American Dog Tick is found everywhere besides the dry regions of the Rockies. However, the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick is found in this region and feeds on large mammals, like your fluffy friend. First, check out three ways to prevent ticks from ever biting your dog.

adult tiki & larva on human nail
An adult and larva tick shown on a human nail for size comparison. Image from Modern Pest Services

Prevention

There are plenty of ways to prevent ticks:

  • Avoid areas with ticks: the nasty creatures perch in low grasses and shrubs and use heat sensors to latch onto mammals as they pass. Keep your dog on the trail.
  • Maintain your dog’s environment: Your dog can get a tick in your yard too. Keep the grass and shrubs cut low so no ticks move in.
  • Use topical insecticides: part your dogs fur and apply directly to the skin on a monthly basis to effectively prevent ticks and fleas.
  • Check your dog for ticks regularly: after playing in grassy areas, comb your dog’s fur somewhere outside. Ticks do not immediately latch on. Always run your hands along your dog’s body to feel for any lumps, these are ticks that have latched on and began sucking blood. Check yourself for the tiny, spider like creatures as well.
tall grass in a field
Ticks live in grassy, shrubby areas that can be avoided to prevent ticks

Removal

If you feel a tick on your dog, it is important to remove it as soon as possible before it can transmit a disease. Be careful not to break the tick off without fully removing the insect properly. Their heads can stay stuck in your dog’s skin and cause infection. The removal instructions work for cats too. To properly remove a tick, follow these instructions:

  • Put on gloves.
  • Keep your pet relaxed: It is much easier to properly remove a tick from a calm animal. If you have someone else, have them gently hold the animal down or them relaxed so they don’t squirm.
  • Use your tweezers: sharp tweezers work the best. Position the tweezers as close to the animals skin as possible
  • Pull out the offending tick: pull out the tick in a straight motion. Don’t twist, be sure there are no mouth parts or the head the tick left behind.
  • Kill the tick: put the tick in a container that contains rubbing alcohol. You may dispose of the tick in the trash once it is dead. It is also recommended that you keep the dead tick in case your dog displays symptoms of disease. The tick can be tested for carrying disease.
  • Disinfect: Use an antiseptic spray to kill bacteria from the bite site. Fauna Care’s line of pet sprays are an efficient way to kill bacteria and fungi and protect the wound as it heals. If the area becomes red and inflamed, contact your veterinarian.
  • Reward: give your pet a treat, pet them, and make sure they know how good they are for holding still while you removed the tick!
tick in dog's fur
A tick in a dog’s fur. Image from PestWiki

Ear Mites

Ear Mites, or otodectes cynotis are a common infection in dogs. It is relatively mild, but complications can arise when the animal has an immune hypersensitivity reaction that can result when the ear is irritated. If a dog has ear mites, they will constantly shake their head and scratch their ears, causing damage. Some dogs will shake so much that blood vessels break causing blood to leak into the ear canal and drum, called hematoma. The mite is common in younger dogs and is highly contagious, passing from mother to newborn puppy and between different animals. However, ear mites will not affect people.

Symptoms

If your dog displays any or all of these symptoms, they likely should be checked for ear mites by a veterinarian:

  • Scratching and excessively scratching the ears, head and neck
  • Shaking of the head
  • Dark crusts in the ear
  • Scrapes on the back side of the ear
  • Crusting on the neck, rump (the back near the tail), or the tail
dog ear infected with mites
Dark crusts form in a dog’s ear infected with ear mites. Image from Dogtime

To diagnose your dog, the veterinarian will run a skin test, a blood test, and a pee test after asking you about the history of your dogs symptoms and if they are frequently in contact with other animals. The vet will also most likely examine your dog’s ear with an otoscope to discover ear mites.

dogs in a basket
Treat all animals in the household for ear mites due to how contagious the infection is.

Getting Rid of Ear Mites

Your animal will be treated on an outpatient basis with medication. All animals in your house, like other dogs and cats, should be treated for the ear mites due to their proximity and contagiousness off the mite. Do a thorough cleaning of the house.

Clean your dog’s ear thoroughly with ear cleaner designed for dogs. Use the ear mite parasiticides for a week to ten days to eradicate the mites.  

Your veterinarian will schedule a one-month follow up appointment to perform another physical exam and check the progress of the mite eradication.  

Posted on
October 2, 2018
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Advice
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