Ear Mites in Dogs and How to Treat Them

Ear Mites in Dogs and How to Treat Them

Author WDF Staff


If you noticed your dog is shaking their head or scratching their ears more than usual, one of the possible reasons for that might be ear mites. No dog owner wants to hear that mites have infected their dog, but the sooner they find out, the sooner something can be done about them. They can be pretty irritating, and your dog will have no peace until the infestation is taken care of. Here is what you need to know about ear mites in dogs.

What are ear mites in dogs?

Dog ear mites are parasites from the same family as ticks and spiders. Their scientific name is Otodectes cynotis. They love nothing more than to enter an unsuspecting dog’s ear canal and feed on wax and oil the dog’s ear secretes. These parasites are tiny and barely noticeable to the naked eye. They cannot survive for long without a host, so they are very eager about infecting a dog or a cat.

Unlike other types of mites, dog ear mites don’t bite and feed on the skin of their host, but they will cause a lot of discomfort that will cause your dog to scratch their infected ear obsessively. While dog ear mites are not so dangerous themselves, they can cause a lot of secondary damage the dog will do to themselves by scratching.

How do dogs get ear mites?

When dog owners first hear their dogs are infected by ear mites and the initial shock passes, different questions go through their minds. One of them is, “How do dogs get ear mites?”

If you are interested in learning how do dogs get ear mites, you might be surprised you already know the answer. Most dog ear mite infestations happen by direct contact with other infected pets. A healthy dog can get in contact with an infected cat or dog, and ear mites will quickly jump from one pet to another. They have limited environmental survivability, and their window of opportunity is small. Ear mites are highly contagious and will infect other hosts quickly and effectively.

Fleas are a common nuisance in the dog’s world. Check out this article for more information about these parasites - How to Get Rid of Fleas On Dogs in 4 Easy Steps.

Symptoms of ear mites in dogs

If the dog gets infected with these parasites, it won’t take long for their owners to realize something is wrong with their dog. Even if the owner doesn’t know what to look for, they will clearly know something is wrong with them. Here are some of the most common symptoms of ear mites in dogs;


The first thing owners will notice about their dogs is they are acting weird. The dog will start shaking their head a lot more than usual, and they might even drag their infected ear across the floor, carpet, or grass. The mites will irritate the dog and since they cannot tell us what is wrong, scratching and dragging their ear on the floor is the only way they can try to relieve the itching.

Ear discharge

One of the most evident indications your dog is infected with dog ear mites is the ear discharge in their infected ear. The discharge will be brown-red and crumbly. It will be pretty dark and will resemble coffee grounds. The thing that usually follows this type of discharge is a foul odor from the dog’s ear.

Infections and wounds

Wounds and infections are not the doing of dog ear mites but rather from dog scratching. The infected dog will try to relieve the itch by scratching their ear with their hind legs. That might lead to open wounds and bacterial infections.

Other parts of the body

In the worst cases, dog ear mites can start infecting other parts of the dog’s body. The dog’s ear canal can become overly crowded, and the parasites will start migrating to other parts of the body. That happens only if the infestation is left uncontrolled.

Vets often advise using flea shampoo to help your dog get rid of these pesky parasites. Check out this article for more info - Best flea shampoo for dogs.

Ear mite treatment for dogs

After the vet confirmed the presence of ear mites in your dog by using an otoscope or by analyzing the discharge, they will recommend the next steps. Sometimes, the dog can feel a lot of pain, so they might have to be sedated so the vet can check them. When it comes to ear mite treatment for dogs, the vet will recommend the best option for your dog.

Ear mite treatment for dogs starts with the vet cleaning the dog’s ears and removing mites. The vet will prescribe some sort of ear mite medicine for dogs. The topical ear mite medicine for dogs needs to be applied daily, and you need to make sure there isn’t any debris left in the dog’s ear canal.

Ear mite treatment for dogs is not completed until the home is clean. Dog ear mites can reinfect the dog if they survive in the bedding, carpet, or sofa. Make sure you sterilize your home and spray it with some sort of insecticide. The whole ear mite treatment process in dogs will last about three weeks.

If you want to know more about preventing fleas, ticks, and mites from infecting your dog, check out this article - Best Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs.

Ear mite medicine for dogs

There are different ear mite medicine available for dogs, and some are more effective than others. The most common ones are OTC medications in the form of ear drops. They can prevent ear mite infestation and clear the already existing one. This can take up to 30 days.

Some newer ear mite medication for dogs developed, and only one dose is fatal for most ear mites. This type of ear mite medicine for dogs is available only in the vet’s office and should not be used without their approval. After the treatment is finished, the vet will schedule a follow-up appointment to confirm the treatment’s success.

The best way to prevent ear mites in dogs is to avoid contact with infected pets and use ear drops regularly. Check out this article for more information - Best ear cleaners.

World Dog Finder team

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