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How Do Dogs Get Ear Mites?

Dogs and Ear Mites

via iStock.com/IvonneW

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Ever wondered, “What are ear mites and how do I know if my dog has them?” Then you are in the right place. Ear mites are tiny parasites that feed on the wax and oil in your pets’ ears.

Like ticks and spiders, mites are in the arachnid family. Barely visible with the naked eye, ear mites are tiny pale white dots that move around in the ear. Under a microscope, mites are easily visible.

Read on to discover how dogs get ear mites and how you can prevent these tiny parasites from infecting your four-legged friend.

How Do Dogs Get Ear Mites?

Dogs get ear mites by spending time in close physical contact with other animals who have ear mites. Typically, a pet who spends a lot of time outdoors can bring mites home to the rest of the family.

When pets share bedding or sleep in close contact, the ear mites easily can transfer from one animal to another. Ear mites in dogs also are common in places where pups are kept in close quarters, like at boarding facilities, shelters or breeders.

Which Pets Are Most at Risk for Ear Mites?

Outdoor cats are most likely to have ear mites, but other pets who come in close contact with outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats are also at risk.

Ear mites are highly contagious between cats and dogs. Kittens, puppies and pets with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of developing ear mite infections than healthy adult pets.

Common Questions About Ear Mites in Dogs Answered

“My dog has been scratching his ears. Does he have ear mites?”

Scratching and rubbing the ears are the most common signs of ear mites in dogs. However, other ear problems, like yeast and bacterial ear infections, also cause itchiness and are very common in dogs.

Black or very dark brown, crumbly debris also is common with an ear mite infestation. You might notice that the inner part of your dog’s ear is very red and swollen.

“What should I do if I think my dog has ear mites?”

See your veterinarian right away. By continuing to scratch at his ears, your dog causes more irritation and damage to the ear.

Your veterinarian will be able to recommend dog ear medicine to treat your dog’s ear mites and the irritation. Your veterinarian also may recommend regular ear care for all the pets in your home to reduce the likelihood of the infection coming back.

Because mites are highly contagious among pets, if one of your pets gets diagnosed with ear mites, they all should be treated.

“Can I prevent ear mites in dogs?”

Regular dog ear care will help you notice a problem faster, so if your dog gets ear mites, you can treat them quickly and hopefully reduce any discomfort. You can prevent ear mites in dogs with the same monthly preventative medications you already use to prevent fleas and intestinal parasites.

Your veterinarian can prescribe a flea and tick treatment, like Revolution, which is available with a veterinary prescription and approved to treat mites. Be sure to apply a monthly product every month according to the directions to safely and effectively prevent ear mites in dogs.

In my experience, over the counter products are unlikely to cure your pet’s ear mites.

If you suspect your dog has ear mites, make an appointment to see your veterinarian. Your pet should feel better in just a couple of days.


By: Dr. Hanie Elfenbein

Featured Image: via iStock.com/IvonneW