Ear Mites

Ear mites under a microscope.  Courtesy of Dr. Chris Adolph, Southpark Veterinary Hospital

Ear mites are tiny mites, barely visible to the human eye, that live on the surface of ear canal skin in dogs (and cats). They are barely visible to the human eye.  An infestation produces brownish ear wax, similar in appearance to coffee grounds.  Ear mites are contagious and can travel from the ears of an infected dog to any other dogs in close contact.

How will ear mites affect my dog?

Dogs who are infected with ear mites typically have very itchy and irritated ears and frequently scratch at their ears or shake their heads.   The ears can become red and inflamed, and rashes or other skin disorders can occur on the skin around the ears.

How do I prevent my dog from getting ear mites?

Ear mites are a very common problem in dogs, particularly in puppies.  If your dog’s ears appear red, inflamed or irritated, or you see waxy debris inside their ears, consult with your veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis and treatment options.

Ear mites are transmitted though social interaction with other infected dogs, which can include sleeping or playing together.  All dogs should be checked regularly for any sign of ear mites.

Ear mites can be successfully treated with a number of medications. Because ear mites are contagious, all pets in the household (both dogs and cats) should be treated for ear mites. Your veterinarian can provide assistance in choosing the most effective treatment for your cats and other pets.

Can humans be harmed by ear mites?

Ear mites are not generally considered a risk to humans.

Did you know?

  • Dogs with ear mites frequently have itchy, reddened and inflamed ears.
  • Ear mites cause brown wax to build up inside the ears.
  • Dogs get ear mites from infected dogs or cats.
  • Ear mites are treatable. See your veterinarian for treatment options.

Ask Your Veterinarian

About Treating Ear Mites

All dogs and cats in your household need to be treated at the same time. Your veterinarian will clean your animal's ear canal and give you a medication to apply. Ear mites may also lead to other infections that your veterinarian would diagnose.