A veterinarian checking a dog, possibly for signs of ear mites.

6 Signs Of Ear Mites In Dogs

Title: 6 Signs of Ear Mites in Dogs: What Pet Owners Need To Know

Dogs are playful animals by nature and often enjoy roughhousing with their owners and other dogs. While this can be great exercise and lots of fun, it can also lead to some problems, such as ear mites. It’s not always easy to tell if your dog has ear mites, as they can also be symptomatic of other issues, such as allergies or infections. So, what are the telltale signs of ear mites in dogs?

The most common signs of ear mites in dogs are excessive scratching or head shaking, which can lead to bald patches and scabs on the ears. Dogs with ear mites may also have a bad odor emanating from their ears, and you may be able to see the tiny mites moving around if you look closely. So, if you suspect your dog has ear mites, take them to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

What Are Ear Mites?

Ear mites are tiny parasites that live inside the ears of dogs and cats, feeding on their earwax and skin oils. They are a type of arachnid, and their scientific name is Otodectes cynotis.  

They thrive in warm, moist environments, so they are most common in pets with floppy ears that don’t get much air circulation. Ear mites can also be passed from pet to pet through direct contact or shared bedding.

They can cause a great deal of discomfort for the animal, leading to scratching and head shaking and can also cause infections if left untreated.

6 Signs Of Ear Mites In Dogs

Dog getting treatment for something with its ear.
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It is important for pet owners to be aware of the signs of ear mites in dogs so that they can get treatment as soon as possible if they show any indication of being infected. Here are the six most important signs of ear mites in dogs you need to know about.

1. Unpleasant Odor From The Ears

Many dogs with ear mites will have an unpleasant odor coming from their ears. This is often due to the accumulation of wax and dead skin cells, as well as the presence of the mites themselves. If your dog’s ears smell bad, it could be a sign of ear mites or an infection.

2. Redness And Inflammation In The Ears

Dogs with ear mites often exhibit signs of redness and inflammation in their ears. This can be caused by the mites themselves, as well as the scratching and head shaking that is common with this condition. Ear mites can also lead to infection, which will cause even more inflammation and may cause the dog to act out of character. 

3. Excessive Scratching Around The Ears

It is natural for dogs to scratch their ears from time to time. But excessive scratching can be a sign of ear mites. This is because the mites cause irritation and discomfort in the dog’s ears, leading them to constantly try to scratch or rub at them. 

4. Head Shaking

In addition to scratching, dogs with ear mites may also shake their heads frequently or hold them tilted to one side. This can be a sign of discomfort and irritation in the ears. It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and any changes in it. They may be trying to indicate an issue with their ears. 

5. Dark And Waxy Ear Discharge

Ear mites can cause a build-up of dark, waxy discharge in the dog’s ears. This discharge may also contain blood or have a foul odor. So, if you notice any abnormal discharge, it could be a sign of ear mites or an infection. 

6. Hair Loss Around The Ears

Excessive scratching and head shaking can result in hair loss around the ears, creating bald patches on the skin. This is often also accompanied by scabs and crusty lesions from constant irritation.

If your dog shows any of these signs, it’s important to take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What Are The Causes Of Ear Mites In Dogs?

Ear mites are most commonly passed from animal to animal through direct contact or shared bedding and blankets. They can also be picked up outside in areas where other infected animals have been. These would be places such as dog parks or boarding facilities. Other potential causes include:

  • Inadequate or improper cleaning of the ears
  • Excessive earwax build-up
  • Poor hygiene
  • Immune system deficiencies
  • Allergies or underlying skin
  • Overcrowded living conditions

How To Diagnose Ear Mites In Dogs?

Your veterinarian will likely perform a physical examination of your dog’s ears, looking for any signs of inflammation, redness, and discharge. They may also take a sample of the ear discharge and examine it under a microscope to confirm the presence of mites.

In severe cases, they may also perform an ear swab or use an otoscope. This will let them get a closer look at the ear canal to check for bacterial or yeast infections.

Treatment Of Ear Mites In Dogs

Treatment for ear mites typically involves medication to kill the mites and relieve any discomfort or inflammation. This may include:

  • Topical or oral medications to kill the mites 
  • Cleaning and medicating the ear canal 
  • Antibiotics to treat any secondary infections 
  • Anti-inflammatory medication 

Let your veterinarian recommend the best course of action. They can show you proper cleaning techniques and may also recommend specific ear-cleaning solutions.

How To Prevent Ear Mites In Dogs?

It’s important to note that all pets in the household should be treated for ear mites. Even if they aren’t showing symptoms, this will prevent re-infection. It’s also important to clean bedding and any shared areas to prevent the spreading of the mites. Here’s what to do:

  • Keep your dog clean: Regularly clean and examine your dog’s ears to prevent the build-up of wax and debris, which can attract mites. 
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands before and after handling your dog, especially if they have been in contact with other animals.
  • Avoid overcrowded living conditions: Overcrowding can increase the risk of transmission of ear mites and other parasites.
  • Keep up with parasite prevention: Use preventative measures, such as monthly treatments, as recommended by your vet to help reduce the risk of infestation.
  • Take your dog to the vet for regular check-ups: Early detection and treatment can prevent the spread and severity of ear mites.

It’s important to be vigilant and watch for any signs of ear mites in your dog. Early detection and treatment of ear mites can prevent discomfort and potential infections for your furry friend.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ear Mites In Dogs

Here are some answers to additional questions you may have regarding ear mites.

How do you get rid of ear mites in dogs?

The best way to get rid of ear mites in dogs is to use prescribed medications, recommended by your veterinarians such as ear drops, ointments, or creams for treatment that can take effect in as little as 7-10 days.

How does a dog get ear mites?

Ear mites are very contagious and can be easily passed on between animals through close contact or sharing bedding or grooming tools. It is also possible for a dog to get ear mites from their environment if they come in contact with infected dirt or grass.

Can humans catch ear mites from dogs?

No, ear mites specifically affect animals (such as dogs and cats) and cannot be passed on to humans. However, there are different types of mites that can affect both animals and humans, such as scabies.

In Conclusion: Signs Of Ear Mites In Dogs

It is important for pet owners to keep an eye out for any symptoms of ear mites such as excessive scratching or head shaking, dark or crusty discharge in the ears, a strong odor coming from the ears, and redness or inflammation in the ear canal. 

So, if any of these signs are present, it is important to bring your dog to your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Never attempt to treat ear mites on your own without consulting a professional.

So, have you ever faced any issues with ear mites in your dog? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below!

Dr. Mohsin Iqbal (DVM, RVMP)
Dr. Mohsin Iqbal (DVM, RVMP)
Dr. Mohsin Iqbal is a licensed veterinarian with more than 5 years of experience in veterinary medicine. After receiving his DVM degree from The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, he worked as a veterinarian in both government and private sectors. Dr. Mohsin specializes in small animal medicine and surgery and has experience treating all types of animals including dogs, cats, horses, and reptiles. He has a passion for pets and has written several eBooks on pet care and surgery. In addition to his clinical work, he also volunteers his time for various animal rescue organizations and helps care for injured and abandoned animals.