Ear Mites

Also Known As

Mites

Description

Although ear mites are usually not a problem for horses, occasionally a species of mange mite, Psoroptes equi, may target the ears of the horse. Although the coarse hair on the inside of a horse's ears forms a barrier and keeps most insects and other foreign objects from entering, occasionally mites are present causing the horse to shake or tilt his head or rub the affected ear against an object.

Symptoms

  • Shaking or tilting of head
  • Rubbing affected ear against an object

Causes

A species of mange mite Psoroptes equi, occasionally invades the ears of a horse.

Prevention

Good horse management, including keeping tack and equipment separate for each horse, and the use of topical insecticides whenever mites are discovered, will prevent ear infestation by mites.

Treatment

Treatment consists of keeping tack and equipment separate for each horse. Usually a veterinarian will need to sedate a horse to do a thorough and safe examination of the deeper regions of the ear canal.

A piece of equipment called an auroscope is sometimes used and samples of ear wax or scrapings of the ear wall will be taken. If the horse has a mite infestation in the ears, treatment with topical insecticides applied directly to the affected areas is used. Ivermectin paste may be applied with a swab.

Alternatively, the veterinarian may find that the horse has a bacterial infection, a growth, or a foreign body in the ear, and will treat it accordingly.

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