The ear mite Otodectes cynotis is a surface mite that lives on cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets. It is usually found in the ear canal but it can also live on the skin surface. The entire ear mite life cycle takes place on animals. Ear mites are highly contagious, and animals become infested by direct contact with another infested animal. The mite is barely visible to the naked eye and may be seen as a white speck moving against a dark background.
It takes approximately 3 weeks for a mite to develop from egg to adult, going through a total of 5 stages. Adult ear mites live about 2 months, during which time they continually reproduce. The entire ear mite life cycle takes place on the host animal, although mites can survive for a limited time in the environment.
Ear mites are the most common cause of ear disease and infection. They are the second most common ectoparasite (external parasite) found on pets; the most common is the flea. Infestations are a very common problem in puppies and kittens, although pets of any age can be affected.
Skin lesions most frequently affect the ear and surrounding skin but occasionally other areas of the body may be affected.
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