Ear mites are a relentlessly uncomfortable nuisance for a dog, and the urge to scratch at the infected area can make the matter much worse. A course of natural therapy combining oil rubs, herbal tincture rubs, regular shampooing, and garlic and yeast added to your dog's diet is effective as treatment and prevention. If the problem persists after six weeks of natural treatments, your dog will need a visit to the vet and prescription medicine.
What are Ear Mites?
Mites are extremely small, infectious parasites, appearing to the naked eye as a tiny white dot. Under a microscope, the mite resembles a tick. Ear mites usually make their home near the ear canal, and move out toward the rest of the animal's ear, as well as the face. Mite eggs are laid and hatched every four days.
What Causes Ear Mite Infestation?
Dog ear mites are spread by close contact with other infected dogs. Sleeping in close contact with other infected dogs is the form of contact most likely to cause the spread of ear mites from one canine to another. In houses with multiple dogs and/or cats, mite treatment will need to involve all household pets, though treatment for as-yet-uninfected pets will be preventive in nature.
Symptoms of Ear Mite Infestation
Mite infestation can be visually identified by the result of the infectious mite activity. Feeding off of the blood of the animal to which they've attached themselves, mite-induced infection leaves behind a dry, powdery black ear discharge, composed of dried blood, ear wax and dead mites. Additionally, your dog will frequently scratch at the infected ear, in an often unsuccessful attempt to get to the source of the discomfort. Repeated scratching for days or weeks can lead to further infection, as the blood in the resultant abrasions will attract mite migration to the wound.
Treatment for Ear Mites
According to veterinarian William Pollock, a natural remedy for dog ear mites is to mix 14.8ml of room temperature almond oil with 400 IU of room temperature vitamin E oil in a dropper, and apply half of the contents into the infected area. Vitamin E oil can be found in the skin and nail care aisles of most drugstores, and almond oil extract can be found in health food stores. Massage the oils into the infected area for at least a minute, thoroughly washing and sterilising your hands afterward. If applied to the ear canal, your dog will shake its head to try to get rid of the ointment. After this urge has subsided, clean out the ear canal with cotton swabs. The oil mixture needs to be applied every other day for a week, leaving a three-day gap between one weeks' treatment and the next. The second part of the natural remedy is to dilute a liquid form of Yellow Dock herb with water (use nine drops of Yellow Dock for every tablespoon of water), and rub the mixture into the infected areas every three days for a week. This process will need to be repeated for a period of six weeks.
Preventing Ear Mite Infestation
Working from the inside out, adding kyolic garlic concentrate and brewer's yeast to your dog's food will help make the skin smell and taste offensive to mites. Both kyolic and brewer's yeast can be found in health food stores, as well as the vitamin supplement sections of major supermarkets. Making sure to shampoo your dog on a regular basis--a general rule of thumb for indoor dogs is to bathe them once a week--goes a long way toward making your dog's skin an inhospitable environment for infestation.