Ear Mites in Dogs – Signs and Symptoms. How to Clean Dog Ears?

Also called Otodectes cynotis mites, ear mites in dogs cause a pretty mild parasitic infection, but still need to be controlled to prevent secondary infections from arising.

Greater problems do arise when an animal has a hypersensitive reaction to the ear mites, resulting in an intense irritation of the outer ear.


Dogs with ear mites will usually shake their heads, or scratch at the area much more often than before; signs are normally pretty obvious. Unfortunately, the inflammation caused by excessive scratching can result in long term damage of the ear canal.

Ear mites in dogs are very contagious, easily passing between pets of the house, from a mom to her litter, or from cat do dog, etc.

It takes about three weeks for an ear mite to mature into an adult from an egg, living about two months after – and reproducing more mites during those two months.

Signs & Symptoms Your Dog Has Ear Mites

How Do You Get Rid of Ear Mites in Dogs?

Living With Ear Mites

Questions & Answers

Conclusion: Keep it Clean!

Signs & Symptoms Your Dog Has Ear Mites

Like fleas, the signs of a problem are usually pretty clear- for those that pay attention. Does your dog feverishly scratch at his ears, where his didn’t nearly as often before? What about odd ‘head shaking’ behaviors? Is he (or she) having trouble hearing? And, most obvious of all, can you see a thick mass of blackish ‘specks’ on the inner side of your dog’s ear?

If any of this is true, especially at more of an advanced stage (when you can see dark clusters) your best alternative is to seek help from a veterinarian. Normally, when you take your dog to places like PetsMart to have their nails trimmed, the groomer can check for you also.

● Excessive ear scratching
● Frequent head shaking
● Thick reddish brown or black clusters around the outer ear
● Clumps around the ear canal that seem to look like coffee grounds
● Scratches on the rear of your dog’s ears
● Hearing loss


Using an ‘otoscope’, a flashlight like object used to easily see into the ear, a veterinarian will be able to detect and diagnose your pet’s ear mite problem. When enough have accumulated, after the small mite has begun to breed, they will appear like clusters of black specks, or coffee grounds.

Though these tiny creatures are about the size of the head of a pin, they can bee seen by the naked human eye (if that human is very observant).

How Do You Get Rid of Ear Mites in Dogs?

Pets can easily be treated at home with special medication designed to kill ear mites in dogs, prescribed from a veterinarian. That being said, all animals in the house need to be treated, and various fabrics (bedding, clothing) need to be washed.

Your dog’s ears need to be thoroughly cleaned with special ear cleaner formulated for dogs; homemade remedies won’t always cut it here. Prescription flea and tick treatments should also be given here.

After purchasing the medication, gently squeeze it into your dog’s ear canal (following the instructions given). Using both your thumb and forefinger, begin to gently massage the medication into your pet’s ear canal.

● Persistent infections can lead to hearing loss, so it’s always important to follow up with your veterinarian!
● Unlike fleas, ear mites can’t hop or fly, only able to crawl.

Medicine for Ear Mites

Though some infection treatment over the counter medications can be purchased for your ear mite problem, like ‘Eradimite Ear Mite’ and ‘Otomite’, your best course of action is to contact your veterinarian and seek a special prescription, as well as follow-up checks.

Living with Ear Mites

For most patients, the prognosis is good; ear mites normally can be controlled as long as they are dealt with in time, and don’t cause too much damage. About two to four weeks later, after beginning therapy, your veterinarian will schedule an appointment to check and swab your pet’s ears.

Because continued infections can lead to hearing loss, and scratching/breaking the skin can lead to secondary infections, it’s important you don’t let your ear mite problem go unhandled. Contact your veterinarian!

Questions & Answers

1. How do dogs get ear mites?

Ear mites in dogs are parasites, usually causing mild infections. Ear mites are simply transmitted through interaction with other infected dogs and cats. In fact, ear mites are more commonly found in outdoor or stray cats (cats that spend a lot of time outside).

Ear mites tend to infect younger dogs more often, and those in crowded areas- such as puppy mill breeders or animal shelters. They can be an unfortunate problem at rescues as well- where there is a large grouping of animals.

2. How do you clean dog ears with hydrogen peroxide?

A solution of half hydrogen peroxide and half water can be used to wipe the outer portion of the ear canal, using a cotton ball and litely dabbing at the surface. Cue tips should never be used, or anything that could either damage or press material down into the ear.

Remember, a dog’s ear canals are shaped like an ‘L’, longer and deeper than a humans. Anything that you put down there will ‘pool’ at the bottom, if it isn’t absorbed. This can easily lead to an ear infection, which can get very bad if not attended to.

3. What is a home remedy for dog ear infections?

About five to six drops of oil of mullein mixed with oil of garlic applied daily can kill bacteria, ease pain and help reduce swelling. One part water and one part hydrogen peroxide mixed and applied lightly with a cotton swab (not a cue tip) should also help.

However, depending on the severity of the infection and location within the ear, a veterinarian prescribing special medication might be the best thing. Home remedies will often help with mild outer ear infections, but much more severe middle to inner ear infections must be treated by a veterinarian.

4. How do I prevent my dog from getting ear mites?

First of all, ear mites are more easily spread in populated areas, like dog pounds, shelters or even very populated parks. Younger puppies are more susceptible to ear mites, so special care should be taken with your little one!

Outside of that, you can purchase cleaning solutions at any local pet store. You can also ask your veterinarian or groomer to check your dog’s ears. Watch out for the symptoms of an ear infection, and try your best to keep your dog’s ears clean.

5. Can humans be harmed by ear mites?

Humans can get ear mites from dogs (or other animals), but it is rare and you probably don’t have to worry about it. That being said, it’s important to remember there are many different mite species.

Where as most don’t, some species of mites can harm humans, and some can do more damage than others.

6. How do I get rid of ear mites in dogs?

After visiting your veterinarian, ear mites can easily be killed by giving your dog a certain medication. Since infection can be very contagious among animals, every animal in the house should be treated- even if it is something other than a dog or cat. After that, the overall environment needs to be cleaned thoroughly.

Your dog’s ears should be carefully cleaned with a cleaner specially designed for a dog’s ears. Your veterinarian might even prescribe another medication to cover any secondary complications. Despite what you may have read, prescription treatments are specially designed, always a better option for your dog’s ear mite problem than any home remedy.


In the end, ear mites in dogs aren’t that big of an issue if taken care of earlier. Where some dogs can have extreme reactions, it’s rare. Ear mites are more common in younger puppies, dogs in a crowded area (like a shelter or rescue), outdoor pets, and can easily be transmitted from a mother to her newborn pups. Breeders should be especially wary!

Signs and symptoms are pretty clear, like head shaking or excessive scratching. Also, if you have multiple pets in a house, they all need to be treated- even if just one seemed to have the mites.

Your best course of action is to be seen by a veterinarian, and schedule a follow up appointment also. Over the counter treatments can be purchased for ear mites if you absolutely don’t want to see a veterinarian, but they aren’t as effective unless you know exactly what to look for. Unfortunately, there are no good ‘home solutions’ to kill ear mites; you’ll need to invest in specific medications.