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Ear mites, medically known as Otodectes cynotis, is a surface mite that lives on cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets. It is usually found in the ear canal but it can also live on the skin surface.

Ear mites are creatures that resemble tiny spiders and they live in your pet’s ear, feeding on her blood and the tissue of the ear canal to survive. Once they reach adulthood they can reproduce, causing more and more mites to appear.

The mites are microscopic and infectious organisms which are like tiny white dots in appearance, but can barely be seen with the naked eye. Detection under a microscope is normally required to confirm their presence.

The most common veterinarian encountered variety of ear mite is the Otodectes cynotis. Ear mite infections in dogs are commonly spread from another animal, frequently feline. Ear mites trigger frequent and voracious itching in one or both ears and require medical treatment to be eliminated entirely. Humans cannot be passed their canines ear mites.

Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs

Symptoms that your pet has ear mites may include:

  • Itching ears, head or neck
  • Rubbing ears/face on floor
  • Frequent head shaking
  • Ear redness, inflammation, scratches, bleeding
  • Hematoma (swelling of ear pinna)
  • Appearance of “coffee-ground” debris inside ear


If your dog exhibits the common symptoms of ear mites, your vet will perform a complete physical exam and a thorough dermatologic (skin) and otic (ear) exam. Your vet may take skin scrapings for laboratory analysis, take ear swabs and place them in mineral oil to identify the mites under the microscope, and/or use an otoscope (an instrument used to look inside the ear) to look for mites in your dog’s ear canals.

Treatment and Prevention of Ear mites in Dogs

The first thing the vet will do is examine the ear canal and the discharges from the ear for the presence of mites. They can be easily spotted by your veterinarian with the aid of an otoscope.

The next step would be a thorough ear cleaning for your dog. That will be followed by application of one of the products approved as ear mite treatment for dogs, such as selamectin and moxidectin/imidacloprid, often used against a range of parasites. Bacterial or fungal infections should also be treated.

Prevention is a matter of monthly topical anti-parasite application and keeping your dog’s ears clean.


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