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How do Dogs Get Ear Mites?

Q&A: How do Dogs Get Ear Mites?

Cats! Those dang cats have a much higher ear mite infection rate than dogs.

And once your dog gets them, it’s all downhill from there, because ear mites are very contagious and easily passed from dog to dog.

Keep reading for a more complete “how do dogs get ear mites?” answer, including:

CC Image “That’s the spot!” courtesy of Kristian Niemi/Flickr

The subject of ear mites is a common one amongst us dog owners. Because, just like fleas and ticks, your dog is likely to come down with ear mites.

In some instances (especially if your dog is primarily an indoor dog), you might get by without ever having to worry about them.

However, if your fur baby goes outdoors often, stays out more than he stays in or often plays with other dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s possible you’re going to get familiar with them, whether you want to or not.

So, for those who have never encountered ear mites in your dogs before, you’re probably wondering how it happens in the first place, right?

Well, we were too, so we decided to a do a little research and share what we found with you!

What Is The Cause Of Ear Mites In Dogs?

So what do we know about ear mites?

For one thing, we know that the most common kind of mite to be found in a dog’s ear is the otodectes cynotis – a parasite with eight legs that enjoys feasting on earwax and other oils that can accumulate in your dog’s ears.

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What’s more, they are so teeny-tiny that your human eyes probably can’t even pick them up.

As far as what causes a case of ear mites, it’s important to know first that they are very, very contagious.

They are almost always present in the ears of outdoor or barn cats and can easily be passed over to dogs who pal around with feline friends.

Let that be a lesson to you dogs:  cats are bad news. Stay away!


From there, they are easily passed from dog to dog.

Another thing that can be a major factor in getting ear mites is a dog that has floppy ears.

Dogs whose ears stand upright most of the time have ear canals that don’t usually get very warm.

However, the floppy eared variety creates the perfect atmosphere for mites to really get comfortable.

how do dogs get ear mites? Floppy-eared dogs are more susceptible. :(
Nice try! 🙂


How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has Ear Mites?

There are a few signs that might point to your dog having ear mites, the first of which would be your dog rubbing or scratching his ears more often than usual.

He might also shake his head a lot and seem agitated.

Another sign would be seeing earwax or discharge that looks black or dark brown.

By the time you reach the discharge stage, there’s a good chance that your dog already has an infection.

In this case, you should definitely take your dog to see your vet so that a proper diagnosis can be made and medication, if any is needed, can be prescribed.

There are other symptoms you can look for as well. In addition to the head shaking and ear scratching, you might also notice some inflammation or even a strong odor coming from your dog’s ear.

How Do You Get Rid of Ear Mites In Dogs?

Once you know your fur baby has ear mites, your next logical question is going to be, how do you get rid of ear mites in dogs?

It’s important that they be done away with because they can cause infection and, in severe cases, even cause hearing loss.

In some cases, your vet might give you a cleaning solution that you can use to rinse your dog’s ears. The solution contains chemicals that will kill off the mites as well as cleaning the ear.

Other situations, especially those where bacterial infection has set in, might call for eardrops.

The vet can also prescribe medications that can be given by an application at the back of the neck.

Most treatments used to get rid of ear mites contain pyrethrin, which is found in many lice shampoos, but you might also hear your vet speak of selamectin, ivermectin or fipronil.

These are all forms of parasiticides given by prescription and are usually applied twice a day for as many as four weeks, especially if the mite problem is a bad one.

If you have more than one dog in your home, your vet will more than likely say that they all need to be treated.

…And that isn’t a bad idea, since they are so contagious…

Remember, even if your dog starts showing signs of feeling better, make sure that you follow the instructions on the medication prescribed to your dog and make sure you them the entire amount specified.

If not, you could wind up with another case of mites before you know it. 🙁

How Long Does It Take To Treat Ear Mites In Dogs?

If the right treatment is used, and all dogs in the house are treated, the mite problem usually goes away.

However, you also need to make sure that all pet toys, pet clothing, surfaces and beds are all washed. Washing them when the mite problem is discovered, as well as during the treatment phase, is the best idea, since unhatched eggs can still be a problem.

An appointment to follow up with your vet should happen within four weeks to make sure the treatment is working.

At this time, it’s likely that the mites will be gone, but your vet can let you know for sure.

As a safety precaution, it’s also a good idea to flush your dog’s ears at least once a month with a special solution made just for dogs.

This will not only keep away any critters that might be trying to hitch a ride, but it can also keep the ear canal free of excess wax.

In Closing

We know that everyone’s experience with ear mites is not the same.

Have you had a dog that has had a case of the ear mites?

Did you go with one of the treatments mentioned above, or did you use something different?

We’d love to hear your story!

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