If not treated, ear mites can cause your dog to scratch to the point of injury. Luckily, there is more than just one home remedy for dog ear mites, like using olive oil or garlic to soothe the infested area. There are also a few over-the-counter sprays that can help with these pesky bugs. Aside from these treatments, prevention plays a large part in how likely your dog is of contracting ear mites. Since you may have several options to approach ear mites, let’s dive into what you may be dealing with to get the best results possible.
What Are Dog Ear Mites?
Ear mites, or Otodectes cynotis, are little creatures that look similar to spiders. They belong to the arachnid family, however, they are much smaller in size. Otodectes species are surface mites that dwell in dogs, cats, ferrets, and rabbits.
They are the cause of Otodectic Otitis, which is a common form of mange in dogs. Otodectes species are also found in foxes and ferrets. These annoying mites populate the external ear canal of your dog’s ear to feed on the debris and wax inside.
Dogs that have an ear mite infestation will itch around the ears excessively and shake their heads. Dogs with itchy skin due to an immunologic response from the mites might scratch a lot or rub their head on the ground to get some sort of relief from their irritation.
Although ear mites feed off wax, tissue fluid from the outer skin layers and ear debris, the constant scratching and rubbing can lead to open sores and secondary ear infections.
Inflammation from scratching can also cause serious damage to the ear canal. In some, more severe, cases this has led dogs to experience a reduction in hearing. And in other serious cases, dogs will shake their heads violently and frequently enough that a hematoma on the pinna (ear flap) could form. Ear mites are highly contagious and can spread from pet to pet. If one household pet becomes infested, it is best to treat all other pets at once.
Causes of Ear Mites in Dogs
There are a few different causes of ear mites in dogs, many of which can be treated with a simple home remedy. However, it's best to understand the cause and severity before settling on a solution.
Ear mites are most commonly found in areas where dogs are in close containment such as kennels and shelters. Areas of poor hygiene and stress, such as pet stores, can also create an environment where ear mites thrive.
When a dog comes into contact with another infested animal they can contract mites. Because ear mites are extremely contagious, dogs that share bedding or sleep in close contact can quickly transfer the mites.
If your dog spends a good amount of time outdoors in untended areas, they can contract mites. Dogs that come in and out of the house can bring mites indoors and easily infest other pets in the home.
Symptoms of Ear Mites in Dogs
Ear mites love to eat away at the oils and wax in your dog's ear. This may cause your furry friend to scratch their head more than they should. Excessive and aggressive scratching around the ears and frequent shaking of the head are the first signs that your dog may have ear mites.
A thick red-brown or black crusts in the outer ear, which is crumbled and congealed blood, typically follows the scratching. These clusters of dried blood may come together to create clumps in the ear canal that resemble coffee grounds.
In order to verify if mites are truly present, your veterinarian should be involved and take appropriate samples of the material. The material will be analyzed by microscope to determine if mites are the cause of the head shaking and ear flapping.
Many other causes contribute to head shaking in dogs: otitis externa (external ear disease) secondary to allergies, foreign bodies (e.g. pieces of plants, seeds, even Legos have been found in the ears), neurologic disorders, among others. It is very important that the correct diagnosis is made prior to instituting therapy.
Because of the constant scratching, your dog may agitate their skin and create abrasions or scratches on the backside of their ears. If your dog scratches too hard at the external ear canal or pinna (ear flap), it can cause damage to the canal that can lead to a secondary infection.
Secondary infections can be diagnosed by your veterinarian through microscopic evaluation and treatment instituted. Some cases of ear mites may actually not only be found in the ear canals but also on the haired skin as well. This can create scratching around the base of the ears and also the neck. The incessant scratching from these extreme cases can lead to infections that cause pus and even hair loss.
Prevention of Dog Ear Mites (The Best Home Remedy)
The home remedy for ear mites in dogs comes down to prevention. Keeping a clean environment in and out of the house can decrease the chances of an ear mite infestation. Did you know that adult ear mites have a lifespan of only 2-months!? While ear mites can live off of an animal host, they can do so for a short period of only around 12-days.
Dogs often love to get into messy situations, whether it’s rolling and playing with other animals that may have ear mites or scavenging through the trash and debris where other animals have been.
Actions like washing your pet’s bedding, cleaning their toys, and regularly bathing your dog, can all help improve the health and well-being of your dog, though ear mite prevention usually comes with avoidance of contact with unkempt and unknown areas.
If you notice ear mites in or around your dog’s ears, keeping in mind adult mites are microscopic, about the size of a small pinhead, all cleaning should be taken to the next level. Vacuum all areas of your home and make sure to disinfect hard surfaces, including your dog’s bedding and toys.
Since dogs most often contract ear mites by interacting with infested animals, prevention outside of keeping your home clean can be difficult. The best you can do as an owner to prevent ear mites is to keep a clean environment around them at all times. Before dropping your dog off at daycare or the groomers, make sure the place is constantly being cleaned and sanitized.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Although not exactly a way to prevent mites, making sure your dog is in good overall health can help them fight off infections faster, like those from mites. Dogs with healthy immune systems are more likely to heal faster from skin infections, compared to dogs with underlying conditions.
Making sure your dog eats a balanced, nutritious diet, gets enough exercise, has good hygiene, and goes to the vet regularly can all help keep their immune system high and ready for battle.
Home Remedies for Dog Ear Mites
Luckily, there is more than one home remedy for dog ear mites. Most of these remedies are natural, effective, and simple to do on your own.
Be careful when sticking anything into your dog's ear. Avoid poking inside their ears since that area is sensitive and can be easily hurt. Any liquid mixture should naturally flow in the canal when you lift the ear tip.
If your dog is cringing due to pain, it may be best to take it in to see the vet instead of forcing any of these home remedies.
Home Remedy for Dog Ear Mites - Olive Oil
One of the most common home remedies for ear mites in dogs is olive oil. That's right, olive oil can help get debris out of your dog's ear, reducing any irritation from the spread of ear mites. Less irritation can also mean fewer chances of your dog getting a skin infection from scratching.
First, mix half an ounce of 400 IU vitamin E and another half ounce of olive oil and pour it into a dropper for easy application. Make sure the mixture is warm enough to match their body temperature.
Next, empty about half the dropper into their ear and massage it for about a minute. Repeat the process with the other ear. Do this every other day for six days. After the last day, leave their ears alone for three days.
The oil should start to smother the mites so the ear can begin healing. If you have a puppy, it's best to refrain from using this method.
Adding garlic to olive oil is another option. Garlic kills bacteria that can fester in your dog's ears in open cuts from scratching. Crush a few garlic cloves in half of a cup of olive oil and let it sit overnight.
The next day, remove the solid pieces of garlic so that all that is left is the oil. Don't worry the oil will have absorbed enough garlic to be effective. Then, follow all of the steps listed above, like if you were using olive oil on its own.
Baking Soda for Ear Mites in Dogs
Another popular home remedy for getting rid of dog ear mites is using a baking soda and water concoction. First, dissolve one teaspoon of baking soda in one cup of warm water.
After the solution is complete, take a gauze, cotton ball, or Q-tip and immerse in the solution. Use either of those to apply it to your pet’s ears. You should repeat this treatment once daily until scratching stops.
Tea Rinse for Dog Ear Mites
Homemade antiseptic tea rinses also make a great home remedy for ear mites in dogs. Green tea is an antiseptic that can be used to clean your dog's ears. Chamomile tea is also great for fighting infections and itchy skin.
All that black and brown crumbled blood that clogs your dog's ear canal needs to be washed out to prevent further irritation and scratching. First, take a pinch of chamomile or green tea leaves and place them in a cup of hot water for five minutes.
Next, strain the leaves out of the water and let the mixture cool. Then use the green tea to rinse out your dog's ears. If your dog has any pus, discharge, or congealed blood, it is best to clean that out before proceeding with this, or any, treatment.
Sprays for Dog Ear Mites
If you want something stronger, there are several natural over-the-counter sprays at pet stores that you can use to stop itching and fight ear mites.
Most of these medicines require you to treat each ear twice a week for a month. Make sure to follow the steps and recommendations of each spray carefully.
While CBD is not an actual remedy for ear mites, it may offer relief from the itch and discomfort caused to dogs during an outbreak. We offer a wide variety of CBD for dog options located here on our convenient shop page. If your cat has mites you can make use of these home remedies and also provide your cat with some CBD to make them comfier while healing.
Home Remedies for Dog Ear Mites (Final Thoughts)
Although ear mites are nasty little critters, they usually aren't too dangerous. However, they can cause your dog to scratch so much that skin infections begin to form. It's best to tackle mites as soon as possible to avoid the spread of infections.
Prevention is one of the best ways to lessen the chances of your dog getting ear mites. Make sure to always keep your dog and their environment clean at all times. That includes their lounging areas inside your home and play areas in your yard.
Using olive oil or a green tea rinse can make a quick and simple home remedy for dog ear mites. Home remedies are often reliable and cost-effective, especially in the earlier stages of an infection. However, it's possible they won't work since ear mites can affect dogs differently.
If your dog has large amounts of discharge or dried blood, is in severe pain, or is not reacting to home remedies, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Visit Holistapet to learn more about your pet.