Dog Training

Ear mites in the dog? (What you can do against it)

Does your dog scratch very often? Does he show unusual behavior with his head and ears? Then it could be ear mites. How you can best react and do now, we show in this guide.

In addition, for this article we have obtained advice from the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic.

Ear mites dog
Table of contents

Infection with this parasite is called ear mange and is extremely unpleasant for your pet. It can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. 

What exactly ear mange is, what the symptoms are, how it can be treated and how you can best prevent the infection, you will learn in this article.

What are ear mites in dogs?

In our big guide to Mites we have introduced you, among other things, the ear mite. Ear mites are parasites, which are also known under the designations "Scab mites" or "Otodectes cynotis" are known. They are tiny little animals that can hardly be seen with the naked eye.

Infestation in dogs is quite rare and occurs mainly in young animals. Experience shows that the affected host tolerates the ear mites relatively well. Therefore, they are usually only detected when the infection has already spread significantly. 

Mew mites preferentially colonize the ears, auricle and external auditory canal of carnivorous animals. There they feed on earwax and dander. 

Once they have taken possession of a hearing organ, they reproduce rapidly and spread more and more. The females lay 15 to 20 eggs, and after three weeks the offspring hatch out.

Recognize symptoms

If your dog is infected with the parasites, you will recognize this by unusual behavior. Because of the intense itching caused by the mites, your pet will try to relieve its pain by..:

  • Intense scratching of the affected ear 
  • Rubbing the head against hard objects and the floor 
  • Uncoordinated head movements 
  • Shaking the head or ears respectively
If the infestation persists and the mites spread further and further, the physical symptoms:
  • The ears show a brown-black pollution 
  • Skin shows abrasions, crusting, increased scaling, red patches or bleeding 
  • Fur hair on the ears fall off and bald spots appear 
  • The amount of earwax increases 
  • The animal often holds the head crookedly 
  • The ear is bent or hanging 
  • The dog is restless, seems sick and squeals 
  • He shows balance problems when walking
The increase in earwax is caused by the saliva that the mites spread on the skin. The secretion creates the ideal conditions for the spread of germs and bacteria. The result is a bacterial infection.
Late treatment and spreading of the disease can cause additional health damage to your four-legged friend:

  • An inflammation of the middle ear that is difficult to treat 
  • Damage to the eardrum 
  • Permanent deafness 
  • A so-called blood ear, in which there is a bruise in the pinna of the ear. The treatment must be performed by the veterinarian under anesthesia.

The examination by the veterinarian

Ear mange does not go away on its own, and medical treatment should be given as early as possible. If you notice a persistent itching in your furry nose, you must go to the vet immediately. 

The examination is not easy, because the small creatures are very difficult to detect. A competent doctor will first look at your four-legged friend holistically, get an impression of his general condition and take a temperature. 

He then examines the ears for traces of parasites and determines whether bacterial inflammation is already present. For this examination he uses an otoscope. 

This is a handy medical device with an illuminated magnifying glass. With this one can examine the ear canal and the eardrum gently and very precisely. The mites react to the light of the otoscope, become more mobile and are thus easier to detect.

Following the examination, the doctor takes a swab from the inner part of the ear and examines it for the mites and their eggs using a microscope.

The right treatment

Ear infection dog

If your doctor determines the ear mange for sure, the treatment begins. He cleans the ears thoroughly, searches them for possible damage and tests the function of the eardrum. 

If the eardrum is damaged, he must take more in-depth medical measures. If the eardrum is intact, he uses special mite-killing ear drops. 

The ear drops also relieve itching, preventing the development of further damage to the ear and infections. Treatment takes place 1-3 times a day, depending on the ear drops. As a rule, the drops act quickly. Most mites are destroyed after the first applications and no more parasites appear.  

However, in order for possible remaining eggs and newly hatched parasites to disappear, repeated treatment is carried out after a break of about a week. If the infection has already become very severe, daily application of the ointment may be necessary. 

After about three weeks of treatment, another visit to the vet is advisable. The veterinarian will conduct a further examination to determine whether all pests have been eliminated. 

If an inflammation of the ear canal has developed in addition to the mite infestation, your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic. Often he will additionally recommend a so-called Spot-On Preparation for the treatment of ear mites. Apply it to the back of your pet's neck, where he cannot reach with his mouth and lick it off. 

In order for your four-legged friend not to suffer permanent damage to his health, timely and thorough treatment is necessary. A mite has a survival period of about 21 days. 

They do not only feel comfortable in the ear, but can also survive outside for several weeks. In case of infection, it is advisable to thoroughly clean the collar and your pet's sleeping place. 

Are there other four-legged friends living in your household? Then you should also be examined. In addition, you should avoid contact of your faithful companion with other animals if possible. This is because they can infect each other.

How to prevent a new mite infestation

Certain precautions prevent ear mange:

It is important to clean the ears regularly and gently. 

Well suited for this purpose are wet wipes for babies. They are available in drugstores and supermarkets. They should be pH neutral and without fragrances.

Chamomile tea can help against mild irritation. To do this, put a few drops on a cotton ball and clean the outer area of the pinna. 

Do not clean the inner ear area and ear canal with cotton swabs. In this way, the delicate eardrum can easily be damaged.

Recommendation from the vet

Not every itchy ear necessarily indicates ear mites.

Nevertheless you should observe your dog well in case of conspicuous changes in behavior. If the abnormalities persist for more than 2 days, you must react.

Contact your veterinarian or an animal health practitioner for a definite diagnosis. Without an accurate diagnosis, any treatment can fail - no matter how well-intentioned.

Examined by the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic
Examined by the veterinarian Emin Jasarevic

I am a veterinarian and writer on animal health topics. Animals are my passion and it is my personal concern to create medically accurate articles and videos to inform pet owners as much as possible.

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