How to Get Rid of Ear Mites in Dogs – Symptoms of ear mites in dogs – 10 Important things you should know

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Ear Mites in Dogs by

Otodectes cynotis mites, commonly called ear mites, are a relatively mild parasite infection. However, complications may arise when an animal has an immune hypersensitivity reaction that results in intense irritation of the external ear.

Dogs with ear mites will typically scratch at the ears excessively and shake their heads, even pulling out their own hair as they scratch. Some dogs will shake their heads so much that a hematoma of the ear flap will form. The inflammation resulting from scratching can also cause long-term damage of the ear canal.

The ear mite is known for being highly contagious, frequently passing from the mom to her litter, and between cats and dogs.

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Symptoms of Dog Ear Mites

  • Excessive scratching at ears
  • Frequently shaking the head
  • Thick red-brown or black crusts in the outer ear
  • Clumps in the ear canal that look like coffee grounds
  • Abrasions and scratches on the back side of the ears
  • Hearing loss

How Do Dogs Get Ear Mites?

O. cynotis ear mites are often transmitted through socialization with infected dogs and cats. They are most commonly found in cats that spend a lot of time outside.


You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms, as well as whether your dog has regular contact with other animals. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog and examine a sample of material from the ear.

How to Get Rid of Ear Mites in Dogs

Dogs can be treated on an outpatient basis with medication designed to kill the mites. As this infection is very contagious, all animals in the same household should be treated, and the environment should be cleaned very thoroughly. Clean all bedding, linens, furniture and flooring.

The ears should be thoroughly cleaned with an ear cleaner that is formulated for dogs. Your veterinarian may prescribe an ear medication for dogs to eliminate secondary bacterial and yeast infections. Prescription flea and tick treatments should also be administered. Several of these are specifically labeled to kill mites and are the safest, most effective means of treating dog ear mites.

Living and Management

The prognosis is good for most patients. Two to four weeks after therapy begins, your veterinarian will schedule a follow-up appointment to examine and swab your dog’s ears. Persistent infections can lead to hearing loss, so it is important to address symptoms of dog ear mites early.

Ear Mites in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

Have you noticed your dog scratching and shaking their head more than usual? The culprit might be an almost invisible insect causing irritation and making your dear pet friend extremely uncomfortable. Dog ear mites are unfortunately a common thing in the canine world. Find out what to do when they choose your dog as their host.

Ear Mites in Dogs by
Ear Mites in Dogs by

What are ear mites?

Ear mites are insects similar to ticks that live inside the ear canal but can also be found on the skin. Barely visible to the naked eye, they can only survive for a very limited time without a host to live on, which makes them extremely eager to find a welcoming dog. This means that ear mites are extremely contagious, hopping from dog to dog or even from cat to dog in no time.

What are the symptoms of ear mites in dogs?

Ear mites are irritable little creatures, so one of the first symptoms of dog ear mites will be an intense itch. You will notice your pup shaking their head or rubbing their ear against the carpet.

The symptoms of ear mites in dogs typically include:

  • Ear scratching
  • Head shaking
  • Dark discharge from the affected ear
  • Skin lesions around the ear

However, these symptoms are common for many parasitic infections, so the best thing to do before starting any sort of treatment is to book an appointment with your vet to rule out other possible conditions. 

What causes ear mites in dogs?

Dogs will usually pick up ear mites from another pet. It can be another dog or cat, and mites can pass very quickly between animals. They can only live in the environment for a limited time and with such a small window of time at their disposal, they’re quick find an unsuspecting dog to claim as their host.

Mites hop around from host to host, so if you are lucky enough to have multiple pets in the family, it’s very likely that once one of them gets ear mites, the rest will follow shortly.

How are ear mites in dogs diagnosed?

The vet will use an otoscope to check your dog’s ear canal for any signs of mites. A microscopic examination of the ear discharge can also be recommended. Sometimes, due to intense itching and scratching your dog’s ears can become very sore which makes it difficult for them to stay still during the examination. If that’s the case, your dog may need to be sedated for the diagnostic and initial treatment.

Ear Mites in Dogs by
Ear Mites in Dogs by

Ear mite treatment for dogs

The vet will start by cleaning the dog’s ears to remove the mites. Treatment typically includes daily topical anti-parasitic medications which need to be applied regularly for a few weeks. But single dose medications can also be recommended – your vet will prescribe the best ear mite treatment for your dog. Your pup’s ears will also have to be thoroughly cleaned to remove the resulting debris and the stubborn mites still hanging on.

And bear in mind that if there are ear mites still living in the house, they can be picked up again which means the process will have to be started from scratch. To avoid this, don’t forget to clean your dog’s bedding and carpets thoroughly.

How long does it take to get rid of ear mites in dogs?

The life cycle of an ear mite usually lasts three weeks. Since the medication kills mature mites but leaves eggs intact, it may take a few weeks for your dog to be rid of the microscopic insects. But with patience, the symptoms will soon subside as the medication starts to take effect.

Can humans get ear dog mites?

Although it’s not completely impossible, humans will rarely catch ear mites from dogs.

Can ear mites in dogs be prevented?

The prevention job can be difficult. These almost-invisible insects will attach themselves to everything from grass to materials like loose dog hair and carpets. While you will have little control over what the dog encounters on their outdoors trips, their indoor environment is easier to keep mite-free. Just make sure to clean their living area thoroughly, especially if your dog has been treated for mites.

Certain monthly flea treatments can help prevent dog ear mites as well, so check with your vet for the best prevention strategy.

How Do I Know My Dog Is Infected?

Ear mites are uncomfortable and irritating to dogs. If your dog is scratching at his ears or shaking his head more often, you might be looking at a case of mites. Some dogs with ear mites will scratch themselves so vigorously and frequently that they can cause cuts and scabs around their ears.

You might also be able to identify an ear mite infestation by looking in your dog’s ears. The American Kennel Club says that a dark-colored, crumbly, foul-smelling substance made up of dried blood is another sign that ear mites have set up shop in your dog’s ear canal.

Where Do Pups Get These Nasty Critters?

Initially, your dog could have picked up ear mites outdoors or from another animal. Ear mites are very contagious, and as soon as one dog has them the rest of the pack is at risk (even your cats). Ear mites travel from pet to pet when an animal shakes his head, or they can transport themselves from loose hair on the ground to other animals nearby. No word on what kind of frequent flyer miles they get.

Once a dog has picked up even a single ear mite, a full-fledged infestation can quickly develop. Female mites can lay five eggs a day, notes Trupanion. These eggs hatch in just four days and the offspring are soon hungry and ready to feast on earwax and oil.

Are There Complications?

In unusually severe cases, dogs whose ear mites aren’t treated in a timely manner can experience long-lasting effects like hearing loss and loss of balance, writes Wag!. As long as you take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice an issue, any problems should be minimal.

The most common issue comes from wounds dogs cause themselves while trying to get rid of the itch ear mites cause. Their hind claws can cause raw, painful scratches that need to be cleaned so they don’t become infected.

How Do You Treat Ear Mites?

Although you may be tempted to try a home remedy, you should see your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your dog. Your vet might recommend bringing all your pets in to see if the infestation has jumped from animal to animal.

Your vet will clean your dog’s ears thoroughly to remove as many ear mites as possible. They will then likely apply an antiparasitic medication to your pup’s ears. Trupanion says if the infestation is advanced, the vet might also prescribe antibiotics.

Since loose pet hair can carry parasites, your vet might advise you to frequently bathe your pets for up to a month to remove mites that might still be hanging on. You should also thoroughly clean and disinfect any places that your animal might have shed to reduce the chances of a repeat infection.

With a little help from your vet, you can overcome the creepy crawly ear mites and relieve your dog’s itchy ears.

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