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- Miticide and ear cleaning
- Slinky's ears are cleaned
regularly to keep earmites away
- ARE EARMITES EATING
YOUR FERRETíS EARS?
© Erika Matulich
- Earmites in ferrets are often known as
the "ferret social disease." Hereís some tips on
diagnosing and treating this common ear problem.
- Whatís That Smell?
- When I brought my first ferret home, I
noticed Critter had an unusual odor about her face. I gave her
repeated baths in vain (not knowing at the time that frequent
bathing is not good for your ferret). I then noticed that the smell
came from black, stinky ear wax. Daily ear cleanings did not help,
so I took Critter to the vet. Diagnosis: ear mites!
- Where Do Earmites
- Earmite infestations are frequently
acquired right after birth or when the ferret has close contact with
other ferrets, dogs, or cats. The mites are too small to be easily
seen with the naked eye, but the dark, crumbly or black waxy debris
they create in the ears of their host is often abundant and smelly.
Almost every baby ferret I have seen at a petstore has had earmites!
It is safe to assume that any new ferret you bring home may have
- What Are the Symptoms
- Besides an overproduction of black,
odorous ear wax, the presence of the mites can be irritating to the
unfortunate ferret who may rub his head, scratch his ears or
repeatedly shake his head. (These irritation symptoms are usually
much more dramatic in dogs and cats!) Occasionally the mites may
spread to other parts of the head and body; under extreme
infestations, the mites may burst the eardrum and cause much deeper,
middle or inner-ear infections. Diagnosis can be verified by your
veterinarian collecting some ear debris and examining it under a
microscope. Either the mites or their eggs will usually be found in
abundance. You might also be able to see the mites marching around
in the ear through an ear scope.
- Eradicating Evil
- The ferret earmite treatment regiment
will take two to three weeks. During this time, you can either have
your veterinarian treat the earmites on a weekly basis or you can do
at-home treatments on a daily basis.
- A veterinarian can apply drops of
ivermectin in the ears once a week for 2-3 weeks, if you and your
ferret would not enjoy a daily treatment at home. Ivermectin should
not be used on pregnant ferrets. One of my rescue ferrets, Compton,
was picked up with such a severe case of earmites that the
veterinarian used ivermectin injections instead of drops. These
weekly shots cleared the earmites from Comptonís face, skin, outer
ear, and inner ear.
- The at-home method of treating
earmites consists of applying miticide (labeled as safe for kittens)
on a daily basis and cleaning out the ear debris. If mites have
spread outside the ear, flea powder may be necessary on the skin.
The miticide method requires diligence to get the daily drops rubbed
into a struggling ferretís ears and may take several weeks to
completely cure the problem. My ferrets HATE this treatment, and I
usually need lots of ferret treats and help from another person.
Once the earmites are gone, keep them away with regular ear
- Be Careful Choosing
- In general, miticides that are labeled
as safe for kittens or young rabbits are usually suitable for
ferrets. There are some labeled for puppies that are too strong, and
donít use any that are safe for just dogs and cats. In particular,
avoid the ingredients betamethasone BP, neomycin BP and
monosulifiram. Ear mite drops that are too strong can cause damage
to the outer ears of ferrets which means surgical removal of part of
the ear! The best active ingredient for ferrets in an earmite
treatment is pyrethrin. It is not known whether the active
ingredient rotenone is harmful to ferrets or not. My favorite
earmite remedies are Nolvamite, Mita-Clear, and Eradimite.
- Itís a Family Affair
- Because ear mites are so contagious
among ferrets, cats, and dogs, all household pets must be treated at
the same time. Treat even those pets who do not have the obvious
mite infestations, because the treated pet may be reinfected
immediately after the end of treatment by those animals who were not
treated. But donít worry, the humans in the family wonít need