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Ear Mites In Dogs – Everything You Need to Know

Ever wondered, “what are ear mites?” and “how does your dog catch ear mites?” 

Otodectes cynotis mites, commonly called ear mites, are a type of surface insect similar to ticks that live inside the ear canal and are barely visible to the naked eye. Ear mites in dogs are the second most prevalent ectoparasites. Similar to spiders and ticks, ear mites belong to Arachnid family and feed on wax and oils in your dog’s ears.  

Are Ear Mites Common In Dogs? 

Yes, ear mites are common in dogs and puppies.  

Causes of Ear Mites in Dogs 

Ear mites are transmitted through socializing, such as playing or sleeping together. These almost-invisible insects will attach themselves to everything from grass to materials like loose dog hair and carpets. Ear mites can only survive for a short time without a host to live in, making them eager to find a welcoming dog. For this purpose, all animals in a home must be treated for ear mites, even if only one or two have signs of an active infection.  

Are Ear Mites in Dogs a Complicated Issue?  

Yes, ear mites in dogs are a complicated issue. Though the eat mites don’t bite the dog’s skin, the consequential damage caused by scratching can be complicated. Ear mites in dogs are incredibly contagious and can easily spread to other dogs or pets, including cats, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, mice, and ferrets. They do not spread to humans under normal circumstances but can on the rare occasion affect humans and cause itching and rashes. If not treated promptly, your dog might lose its hearing ability. 

How long do Ear Mites live?

It takes approximately three weeks for a mite to evolve from an egg to an adult, going through a total of five stages. Adult ear mites live about two months, during which they continuously reproduce. Although mites can survive for a short time in the environment, the entire ear mite lifecycle can occur in the host animal – meaning they can procreate and survive in your dog for a very long time.  

Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs 

The main symptom of a dog that is affected by ear mites will be an intense itch. Other symptoms typically include:  

  • Ear scratching  
  • Head shaking  
  • Hair loss from scratching 
  • Skin sores around the ear  
  • A foul odor from the ears 
  • Dark discharge from the affected ear  

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

Diagnostic Tests to Determine Causes of Dog’s Ear Mites  

The “otoscope” is an instrument that a veterinarian uses to check your dog’s ear canal for any signs of mites. A microscopic examination of the dog’s ear discharge is frequently recommended as well. Other conditions with similar symptoms should be checked and ruled put before starting any treatment to combat ear mites. Due to intense itching and scratching, the ears can become very sore, making it difficult for your dog to stay still in a place during the test. If that is the case, your dog may need to be given a sedative drug to make them fall asleep during the diagnostic and initial treatment. 

Treatment for Dog’s Ear Mites 

Ear mites in dogs don’t penetrate deep into the ear and can be treated easily on an outpatient basis unlike other parasitic infections.

Older treatments for ear mites

Older, over-the-counter ear mite treatments include putting medication in your dog’s ears daily once for 10 to 30 days, as prescribed by the vet. If you decide to treat your dog’s ear mites with approved medications such as selamectin or moxidectin, follow the label instructions strictly. Missing just a dose or two could mean that your dog will still have mites in its ear even after you finish your dog’s treatment. 

Modern treatment for ear mites

Modern ear medications for dogs can kill ear mites with just a single dose applied to a dog’s skin. These simple treatments are only available through veterinarians. The medication will immediately get rid of the adult mites but it will take few weeks to get rid of the eggs and microscopic mites. 

Despite the type of ear mite medication a dog receives, wiping out all the debris from within a dog’s ear canals is an essential part of treatment. Your veterinarian may recommend thoroughly flushing out your dog’s ears or may provide you with a relevant product and instruct you on cleaning your dog’s ears at home. After commencing treatment, your dog should quickly start to sense relief. Excessive scratching, head shaking, and ear discharge begins to decrease after just a few days. One month after the start of the treatment, your veterinarian may schedule a follow-up appointment to conclude whether the mites have been eradicated and to clean your dog’s ears again, if necessary. 

Home Remedies to Treat a Dog’s Ear Mites 

Many “home remedies” are available for treating ear mites in dogs all over the internet. Let us discuss some of those here but we do not suggest any of these home remedies for your dog. Most of these remedies are not effective, and some of them could even hurt your dog’s ear canals. It is always recommended to take your dog to the vet, get the correct diagnosis, and get safe, effective treatment. 

Olive Oil 

Olive Oil 
Olive oil works by drowning the mites. However, it might not kill all of the mites even after applying a small amount of oil in the ears for at least six weeks daily. The olive oil can be soothing


Mineral Oil 

Mineral Oil
Some veterinarians who support natural medicine recommend trying mineral oil drops in your dog’s ears daily for at least three weeks using a dropper and wiping away any excess. This further works by suffocating the mites in the ear. However, some mites could be quick and avoid it, and it may not be the most effective way to clear ear mites inside your dog’s ear.


Hydrogen Peroxide 

Hydrogen Peroxide
It is recommended to take a Q-tip to dip into the solution. Mix 1-drop of hydrogen peroxide to 1-drop of water. Soak Q-tip in the mixture, then use this Q-tip to clean your dog’s ear canal. Perform this for ten days and check for the results. Hydrogen Peroxide can be harmful to a dog’s eyes. If you try this method of treating ear mites, you have to be very careful not to get any of it near your dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Again, this method could cause more troubles than it is worth, and the mites could evade getting into contact with a hydrogen peroxide solution. It is best to check with your vet before trying this remedy.


Green Tea 

Green Tea
Green tea is used to rinse off mites from the dog’s ears. Applying 4-5 drops of cooled green tea into the affected ear is recommended. Massage gently for two minutes and wipe off in and around the ear with a cotton ball. Use this treatment once daily for four weeks. Though this might help, consulting a vet is the best option.


Tea Tree Oil 

Tea Tree Oil
Some people recommend tea tree oil to treat ear mites in dogs. This works in the same manner as the mineral oil and olive oil by suffocating or drowning the mites. But it might not help in eradicating the mites completely. If you prefer to use tea tree oil, make sure to dilute it well. It can be toxic if your dog injects it, so be careful while treating your dog with tea tree oil.


Best Way to Treat Ear Mites

The safest way to treat ear mites in dogs is with proper medication prescribed by your veterinarian. The importance of this way is to effectively treat ear mites and get the right diagnosis and make sure your dog is dealing with ear mites and not a different disease. Otherwise, you may try various unsuccessful home remedies, prolonging the time your dog is dealing with a worsening ear infection and being in pain. 

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Dogs at Home? 

Ensure that your house environment is clean. Wash items like pet bedcovers in hot water and then run them through a hot dryer until they are totally dry. Thoroughly vacuum places where your pet spends a lot of time. After the end of treatment, continue to check your dog’s ears regularly for indications of ear mites or other problems. Look for discharge or redness in the ear canal and headshaking or scratching around the ears. 

Are Some Breeds More Prone to Ear Mites?  

Dogs with big, long, floppy ears are more prone to ear mites and other ear infections. However, ear mites can affect any dog breeds. Puppies are generally more likely to be affected by ear mites when compared to adult dogs. 

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