When you look in a dog’s ear to see ear mites, you might spot tiny white pinprick-size creatures moving around. These are mites, but they’re not easy to see. You’re more likely to notice dark debris that looks like coffee grounds. The dark specs are made of skin from mite irritation and defecation, plus added ear wax as the ears try to protect themselves.
Mites are an external parasite you would prefer to avoid. About half of the cases of ear mites in dogs are caused by Otodectes cynotis. Often these are shared by your cat or pet rabbit with your dog, especially if your cat goes outdoors, so if you suspect one pet has mites, you likely need to treat them all.
Signs of Ear Mites
The most common symptoms of ear mites are the dog shaking his head, scratching at his ears—even putting his paw into his ear—rubbing his head against the floor, ground, furniture, or you, and smelly, dirty ears. Rarely, you might notice irritated areas of the skin on the head and neck.
If your dog has secondary yeast or bacterial infections, the ear may be red and moist or have a purulent discharge.
Treatment can be straightforward, but many of the home remedies you see online may not fully address the issue, leaving you frustrated, your dog still scratching, and both of you disappointed and annoyed. Instead, if you suspect mites, take your dog to the veterinarian and get an effective medication.
To treat ear mites in dogs, ears need to be properly cleaned. If you’ve taken your dog to the vet, he will get a thorough ear cleaning that will directly remove many of the mites.
Your dog will need ear drops or ointment, especially if he has secondary bacterial or yeast infections in the ear.
The next step is often a topical medication that will attack the mites as well as fleas and ticks, such as Revolution, which requires a veterinary prescription. More than one treatment is generally required.
It is very important to treat all your pets at the same time. Otherwise, your cat may reinfest your dog or vice versa. Other dogs and rabbits can share the mites, too.