What Are Ear Mites in Dogs?

Pesky Parasites 101: Ear Mites in Dogs

Ear mites in dogs (Otodectes cynotis) are tiny parasites from the Arachnids family that live in the pet’s ears and feed on ear wax (cerumen).

Ear mites are very small parasites, barely visible to the human naked eye. Nonetheless, while they may be tiny, they cause a lot of discomfort to your pet.

They can cause irritation, inflammation, and secondary infections in the ear. If left untreated, the consequences of ear mites can be detrimental and even result in hearing loss.

What does an Ear Mite Look Like in Dogs?

Ear mites in dogs basically look like tiny dots in the ear canal that are found moving around slowly. However, they might also be small, so spotting them could be challenging. Your vet will use an otoscope or microscope to spot an infestation correctly.

You may also be able to see them if you take a cerumen sample from your dog’s ears and put it on a dark and lightly lit background. Ear mites will be visible as small and moving white specks.

How does a Dog Get Ear Mites?

Dogs get ear mites through contact with infected animals. Since ear mites in dogs are not species-specific, they can also be acquired from other animals such as cats and ferrets. Gerbils, rabbits, and hamsters are also possible carriers.

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Adams Ear Mite Treatment For Dogs
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  • Kills ear mites on contact and paw-sitively suitable for dogs and cats 12 weeks and older
  • Adams Ear Mite Treatment contains aloe and lanolin to help soothe irritated skin
  • Since 1975, the Adams brand provides a triple line of defense against fleas, ticks, and mosquitos by protecting the pet, home and yard

How do I Know If My Dog Has Ear Mites?’

There are a few symptoms of ear mites infestations. The most common symptoms and signs of ear mites in dogs include:

  • Ear Scratching: Frequently scratching and rubbing their ears, neck, and head. The scratching may be so aggressive that it causes hair loss and broken skin or blood vessels. A dog scratching its ears excessively is always a sign of ear problems.
  • Head-Shaking: Head shaking a lot for no apparent reason. The saying “got a flea in your ear” isn’t far from the truth.
  • Ear Discharge: Black or brown waxy secretion from their ear canals. The discharge can often resemble coffee grounds.
  • Ear Odor: Their overall ear area, or any discharge you find from the dog’s ear canal, may have a strong odor.
  • Ear Inflammation: Your dog’s ears may be red, swollen, and inflamed. The outer ear and area surrounding the ears can also be inflamed, and covered in scabs, rashes, and hair loss. This is usually the result of secondary infections.

The symptoms of ear mite infections can be similar to other ear conditions such as yeast infections, bacterial infections, and other dog ear infections. Therefore, it is important to see a vet.

How Contagious Are Dog Ear Mites?

Ear mites in dogs are extremely contagious and travel from one pet to the other. Therefore, if one of your pets has ear mites, it is best to isolate them and take preventive measures for all your other pets.

How do You Get Rid of Dog Ear Mites?

There are several ways of getting rid of ear mites in dogs. Here are some safe and efficient over-the-counter products.

PetLab Co. – Clear Ears Therapy Ear Cleaner for Dogs. This dog ear wash has been designed to safely and potently rinse and clean your dog’s ear canal. This helps with itchy ears and head shaking.

This solution promotes and supports healthy ear canals in your dog, giving the confidence that you can support your dog with occasionally itchy, blocked ear canals due to excessive wax, trapped moisture, and yeast. The ingredients in our ear drops for dogs are carefully selected to ensure your pup remains healthy and happy. 

Adams Ear Mite Treatment For Dogs. This product contains aloe and lanolin to help soothe irritated skin. Additionally, it kills mites on contact, making it suitable for pets older than 12 weeks of age. Use this product daily for 7-10 days and repeat treatment in two weeks if necessary.

Arava Natural Ear Mite Treatment Infection Cleaner. This product contains nine all-natural ingredients and 26 Dead Sea minerals to effectively eliminate mite problems and keep your pet’s ears clean. Just add three drops in each ear and see beneficial results in 10 days. This product is excellent for eliminating painful ear inconveniences in both dogs and cats older than nine months of age.

Fitter Critter Aloe Dog Ear Wipes with Cleaning Ketoconazole. This product contains key ingredients that work together to manage topical skin conditions that are responsive to chlorhexidine and ketoconazole. It is available in the form of anti-itch wipes that are perfect for getting the spaces in between face folds, finger folds, as well as underarm and groin areas.

Miracle Care R-7M Ear Mite Treatment For Adults. This pyrethrin-based liquid controls spinose ear ticks and ear mites. It is safe for both dogs and cats and works best with R-7 Ear Cleaner. This product is great for helping your pet get rid of the pesky parasites that can cause itching and inflammation in the ears. Consult a veterinarian before using this product on debilitated, medicated, aged, pregnant, or nursing animals.

Virbac Otomite Plus Ear Mite Miticide Treatment. This product offers ear mite treatment for dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens. It contains double synergized pyrethrins in an olive oil vehicle that penetrates the stratum corneum and is miscible with sebum. As a result, it eliminates ear mites without irritation.

How Can I Treat My Dog Ear Mites Without Going to the Vet?

Pesky Parasites 101: Ear Mites in Dogs

Most home remedies for fleas work on ear mites in dogs. Alternatively, dog owners can use over-the-counter medications for treating ear mites in dogs (they include topical applications, ear drops, and ointments).

Let us look at some of the ways you can counter ear mites without having to go to the vet:

  • Olive Oil for Ear Mites in Dogs. This is a great ingredient to help remove ear mites from your dog’s ears. It works by asphyxiation of the mites in your dog’s ears and helps remove a lot of the debris that is usually found there.
    Available over-the-counter
    Cheap and affordable
    – Recommended by vets
    Could lead to the buildup of fluid in the ear
    – Might mix with the ear wax to make it difficult to clean
  • Garlic Oil for Ear Mites in Dogs. This is another amazing ingredient that helps counter ear mites. This is because, garlic contains sulfur, an element that mites hate. It is also a great anti-parasitic ingredient that also has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
    – Helps eliminate mites successfully
    – Prevents mites from reinfecting your dog’s ears
    – Works great on both dogs and cats
    – Can have a pungent aroma
    – Might not work with picky pets
  • Green Tea for Ear Mites in Dogs. This works like a natural antiseptic that helps eliminate ear mites in dogs and cats. It is also highly effective in removing ‘coffee ground’ debris that is often found in dogs’ ears.
    – Easy to source ingredient
    – Recommended by vets
    – Great for cleaning the ears
    – Could make your dog feel uncomfortable
    – The scent might be off-putting for some dogs.

What Happens If Dog Ear Mites are Left Untreated?

If left untreated, ear mites in dogs can have severe consequences, including weakened immunity and hearing loss. Here are the possible outcomes:

  • They will cause itching in your dog’s ears and can result in bacterial infections if not treated and eradicated. At worst, a dog continuously scratching can rupture blood vessels in their ears which can result in hematomas.
  • Some dogs are hypersensitive to ear mites. For these pups, this means that an infestation can be extra intense in terms of painful and irritating skin reactions and inflammation.
  • When left untreated, prolonged ear mite infestations and bacterial infections can result in deafness in your dog.
  • The mites can also spread to other parts of their body, especially around the folds in their head and neck area, and tail, causing further inflammation, irritation, and discomfort in these areas.
  • If a dog’s immune system is weakened, a mite infestation can result in mange. Mange also results in hair loss and is highly contagious among dogs.

How Long does it Take to Treat Ear Mites in Dogs?

Mites have a three-week life cycle, so the time necessary to manage the infestation takes three weeks. However, based on the treatment option and severity of the infestation, your dog will show improvement much sooner.

How Can You Prevent Ear Mites in Dogs?

Here are some tips on how dog owners can prevent ear mites in dogs:

  • Regular Ear Cleaning. Keeping the ears clean and well-groomed is vital for preventing ear problems. Luckily, there are many ear-cleaning products made specifically for dogs.
  • Topical Medications. Topical spot-on preventatives, featuring pesticides such as milbemycin oxime and ivermectin can be used to prevent ear mites and other external parasites.
  • Veterinary Checkups. Ensure your dog gets checked by a vet regularly. Vet visits are the ideal time for preventing pet health issues or, if already present, treating them timely.