Everything You Need to Know About Ear Mites in Dogs

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
Just as nasty as ticks and fleas, ear mites can cause just as many problems for your dog. Know what to watch for and how to get rid of ear mites in dogs.

When you think about all the various pests your dog may be exposed to you probably think of things like fleas and ticks. While these certainly are the most common culprits, there is another one you shouldn’t forget – ear mites. Ear mites can cause just as much trouble for your dog as fleas and ticks but they are a little harder to detect which makes them even more dangerous.

Related: Ear Mites In Cats Lead To Serious Scratching

What are the Signs of Ear Mites?

If you were to examine an ear mite up close you would notice that they look like tiny little spiders because they have eight legs. There are many different types of mites, but the two species that most commonly cause ear infections include Notoedres and Otodectes. Notoedres tend to infect cats while Otodectes affect both dogs and cats as well as ferrets and foxes. There is also another type of mite that causes a skin infection, often around the ears, called demodex. Any dog can develop an ear mite infection, but young dogs and dogs in animal shelters are the most at risk – older dogs tend to be a little more resistant to ear mites.

Related: 6 Ways To Properly Clean Dog Ears

In most cases, ear mites cause mild infections but if the dog develops an immune hypersensitivity reaction, it can result in some serious symptoms. The most common symptoms associated with ear mites in dogs include the following:

  • Extreme itching, especially around the ears, head, and neck
  • Generalized itching and scratching
  • Shaking or tilting of the head
  • Thick black or reddish-brown crusts in the outer ear
  • Coffee ground-like bumps inside the dog’s ear canal
  • Scratches or abrasions on the backside of the ears
  • Scaling or crusting on the neck and rump

If you notice your dog displaying any of the symptoms listed above you should take him to the vet for an examination. In order to diagnose an ear mite infection, your vet will need a description of your dog’s symptoms and he will likely run some lab tests just to rule out potential medical causes for the symptoms.

How Do I Clean My Dog’s Ears?

An ear mite infection is contagious so if you have more than one dog in your household – even if only one is currently displaying symptoms – you may want to treat all of them. Medication is generally the most effective treatment for ear mite infections and may include topical applications like Ivermectin, selamectin, or fipronil. You may need to administer these treatments over a course of two to four weeks until all of the mites are killed and, in the meantime, clean your dog’s ears with a general ear cleaning solution. To use these solutions simply squeeze a few drops into your dog’s ear canal then massage the base of his ears to distribute it. Then, just clean away any debris and excess fluid from your dog’s ears using a clean cotton ball and let them dry.

Ear mite infections in dogs are not particularly dangerous or life-threatening but if left untreated it can lead to a secondary infection, not to mention a great deal of itching and discomfort. At the first sign of ear mites in your dog, take him to the vet just to be safe.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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