Ear Mites

For puppies or first time dog owners, it is best to have a veterinarian examine your dog to carry out the first diagnosis. It can be easy to mistake an ear infection with ear mites. Many people assume their dog has ear mites and assume that if their dog has an itchy red ear with discharge, that it is ear mites.

But cats are more likely to have ear mites than dog, and if your dog hasn’t been in contact with infected animals, they probably  have an ear infection or other problem instead.

If you are not completely sure it is ear mites, don’t try to treat them yourself, as you may waste your time often leading to weeks of inappropriate treatment with over-the-counter remedies. It is important to distinguish an ear infected with yeast or bacteria from one infected with mites.

Ear Mite discharge looks like coffee grounds

What are Ear Mites?

Like fleas, ear mites are contagious parasites. They are a microscopic eight-legged creature that feed off wax and dirt found in a dog’s ear, rather than the blood that fleas feed off of. The life cycle of the ear mite, from an egg to development into an adult mite ready to reproduce is about 3 weeks. So any treatment must be repeated a few times to eradicate mites as each new batch hatches.

How Did my Dog Get Ear Mites?

Ear mites are contagious and easily transferred from animal to animal by physical contact. Your dog’s ear mites came from some other animal with whom your pet has been near. If your dog has been at a doggie day care or boarding, or even to a dog park, they may come in contact with them. Because ear mites are so contagious, treatment for mites should include all household pets, dogs and cats as well.

Symptoms of Ear Mites

Your dog will typically shake its head and also scratch its ears in an effort to relieve the irritation. If you gently open your dog’s ears and look inside, you’ll probably see black, crusty matter that look somewhat like coffee grounds. The inner ears may also be red and inflamed. If you look hard enough, you may also see the tiny white Ear Mites.

Are Humans at Risk?

Ear mites are contagious between dogs and cats, with cats getting them much more often than dogs. But they are not generally spread to humans, though a rash may be possible for individuals with sensitive skin.

 How Do I Get Rid of Ear Mites?

If your dog’s ears are full of ear mites and their dirt, first clean their ears so the medicine can get to the root of the problem.

Something to start with is a homeopathic ear care remedy. This is given orally, not in the ears, and relieves symptoms of ear mites, minor ear infection, redness, swelling, and pain, So it is a good choice if you’re not 100% sure that your dog has ear mites. I haven’t personally used it, but Newton Homeopathics ear care drops gets very good reviews.

Home Remedies for Dog Ear Mites

If you prefer to treat your dog with a home remedy, try this technique:

To relieve some of your dog’s discomfort, gently clean the ear using a natural oil. The best ones are

  • almond
  • olive
  • canola or other vegetable oil
  • mineral oil

If you have it, open a capsule of 400 IU Vitamin E (pin-prick and empty the capsule’s oil into the container).  Oil serves three different purposes:

  • smothers the ear mites
  • soothes skin
  • Vitamin E helps to speed the healing process.


Warm 1/2 oz or a few tablespoons oil by placing it in a cup or glass and placing the cup in a sink or bowl full of hot water for a few minutes. This will warm the mixture slightly without making it too warm.

Use an eyedropper or syringe without the needle and fill with the warmed oil. If you don’t have an eyedropper, try dribbling in a bit off of a spoon, or even soak a cotton ball in the mixture and wipe the ear.

Keep your dog’s head still so he doesn’t immediately shake out the oil, and insert oil into the ear canal. Massage the base of the ears for a minute to loosen up the ear mite dirt, and then use cotton balls to remove the access.

Be careful with cotton swabs; you may use them for the outer ear but don’t insert deep into the ear.

When you have wiped out what you can, let your dog shake to remove excess oil. You may want to do this outside or in a bathroom, as it may be a little messy.

How Often

Clean every day for 6 days and then rest for a few days. You should start to see improvement in a couple of days, but you may need to repeat this treatment for at least 3 weeks to completely eliminate the ear mites. As the eggs hatch you need to re-treat. And it only takes one female to survive and lay eggs to re-infect your dog, so check your dog often for re-infestation.

Killing Ear Mites with Yellow Dock

Ear mites are tough to kill, but yellow dock is another home remedy you can try:

1) A mixture of 9 drops Yellow Dock Root Extract, 1 Tablespoon water.

Use an eyedropper, insert into the dog’s ear and massage in.
Treat once every 3 days for 6 weeks, to treat the existing ear mites and the eggs as they hatch

What if They Won’t Go Away?

Your vet has medicines that can treat and kill ear mites, so if you a have tried the home remedies, and over the counter preparations, and have treated all the animals in your household, you should see your vet. Treating your dog for ear mites when they don’t have them won’t do any good, and will waste your time and money. Take your dog to the vet for treatment if its ear problems last longer than a week or get worse.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Garry P. Ruiz July 30, 2013

Remember, ear mites will infect cats, dogs and other animals too. A simple inspection on the ear will already help pre-determine if your pet is infected. Furthermore you will also notice behaviors like severe scratching and worse pain on the ear when touched. The best course of action is to get professional care for ear mite treatment for dogs.


jeff August 4, 2013

Great advice, Garry.


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