Home Remedies for Ear Mites in Dogs

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dog ear mites home remedies

If fleas and ticks weren’t enough for your pet to avoid, they also have to contend with the threat of the very irritating presence of ear mites. Depending on the species, ear mites attack dogs, cats, rabbits, and even cattle. As a highly contagious pet condition, it is important to supply your companion with an immediate remedy for the constant scratching and irritation that takes place with an infection. Before relying on chemical means to destroy the presence of ear mites, you should consider using treatments made at home.

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What are Ear Mites?

Ear mites belong to the class Arachnida, which includes ticks and other species of mites (such as the dust mite and the mold mite). Mites are often considered one of the most diverse and prosperous of all invertebrates [1]. Since they possess a small body structure, they are able to conduct their regular routine without being detected by others. Most mites are microscopic, living in the soil and water, as well as on humans and animals. As for the ear mite, they choose to set up shop in the ears of animals (mostly cats).

The most common species of ear mite is the Otodectes cynotis, which possesses the capacity to spread at a rapid pace – transmitted with the briefest of physical contact with other animals. When it comes to the animals you share your home with, ear mites typically affect cats and ferrets the most, but also attack dogs as well. In very rare cases, ear mites will come in contact with humans and become an issue. Unlike most mites (which burrow), an ear mite simply lives in the ear canal [2].

Other animals affected by the ear mite include rabbits and cattle. The Psoroptes cuniculi species is larger in size than the Otodectes cynotis and is seen in rabbits. In regards to rabbits, ear mites cause thick debris to accumulate in the ear canal. As it worsens, the outer ear and face may show signs of infection. Usually, the rabbit will scratch at and shake their head. In cattle, a serious ear mite infection can affect their hearing [3].

The Life Cycle of an Ear Mite

The eggs of an ear mite are laid and hatch within four days of incubation. Larva emerges and feeds on the ear wax or skin oils of its host, which continues for about a week. Afterwards, the larva will molt into what is called a protonymph, which then molts again, becoming a deutonymph. The deutonymph mates with adult males, even though it surprisingly hasn’t even established a gender at the time.

After mating, another round of molting takes place and the mite is established as either an adult male or female. The females are already ready to lay eggs, while the males go off to find deutonymphs to mate with. The average life span of an adult ear mite is about two months.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Pets infected with ear mites often scratch about their ears or characteristically shake their heads. The intensity of scratching and head shaking will depend on how badly they are infected with ear mites. In the worst cases, the ear canals begin to bleed, where fresh or dried blood becomes quite visible inside of the ear canal. This dried blood is often described as coffee grounds. Although a buildup of this coffee ground-like material in the ear canal is a common symptom of ear mites, it is not a completely conclusive manner to diagnose an ear mite infection, as a handful of bacterial and/or yeast infections will also produce this effect.

The presence of ear mites is quite common, but an infection is too serious of a condition to ignore. When left untreated, the ear canals can become severely damaged along with the eardrum. Unfortunately, animals have been known to permanently lose their hearing as a result [4].

Overall, the main symptoms in both cats and dogs to look out for include intense irritation, scratching, thick and crusty ear discharge (black in color), an increase in earwax production, persistent ear scratching and shaking of the head. To make sure you are accurately treating your pet for ear mites, it is highly recommended to bring your companion to the veterinarian for a definite diagnosis. A pet doctor will use what is called a “ighted otoscope,” which magnifies the mites. The light attached to the otoscope brings mites to the forefront of their earwax surroundings, creating movement the veterinarian is able to detect. If mites are not readily visible using the otoscope, an examination of the earwax will take place under a microscope.

Negative Effects of Ear Mites

The accurate diagnosis and speedy treatment of ear mites is very important for pets, as a severe infection has the power to weaken or permanently rob animals of their sense of hearing. Rapid detection and remedies will also stop this highly contagious infection from spreading to other animals in a household (when applicable). In a few rare cases, some humans have experienced skin rashes as a result of coming in contact with their infected pet, but this is extremely rare.

As for the pet, the ear mites cause a range of inflammatory symptoms, which bring about the same kind of symptoms as bacterial and yeast infections. The itching and redness of the ears is quite irritating to pets, but when left untreated, more pressing infections may develop. The ear mites may cause skin diseases in animals, which have the capacity to affect the tail and neck of a cat or dog.

Home Remedies for Ear Mites

Oftentimes, remedies for some of your pet’s most pressing medical problems and issues can be found within the comfort of your household. Before considering one of the many treatments on the market for ear mites, check out the following list of ideas on how to use a home remedy to get rid of this very common condition in pets (especially cats):

a) Corn Oil:

Using a few drops of corn oil (like Wesson) makes a decent home remedy for cat ear mites. First, massage the oil about the inside of the ear, using a cotton ball to clean the infected region. This treatment is repeated for three days. The oil serves three different purposes, as it soothes skin, smothers the ear mites, and speeds the healing process.

b) Massage:

After adding drops as a treatment for ear mites, massaging your cat’s ear can help evenly distribute the remedy. Gently hold the ears so that the portion of your thumb is inside of the ear. Use the other fingers to grasp the outer skin of the ear. Do not allow your thumb to go deep into the ear canal. Massaging the ear helps free impacted wax, as well as makes the coffee-colored debris more visible so that you can remove more easily using a cotton ball.

c) Almond or Olive Oil:

Some pet owners have used almond and olive oil to treat ear mites [5]. A mixture comprised of ½ ounce of almond (or olive) oil combined with 400 IU of vitamin E should be placed in a dropper bottle. The contents should be warmed to room temperature, where a ½ -full dropper is placed into the ear. It is completely natural to see your pet shake their head after receiving the treatment.

Using cotton swabs, gently clean out the opening of the ears. The oil works wonders when applied every other day for a period of six days. The ears should rest for three days, where the treatment steps are then repeated for six weeks to make sure all ear mite eggs are dealt with. This oil treatment not only smothers the majority of ear mites, but also facilitates the healing process.

d) Thorough Cleaning of Cage:

Before treating a rabbit with ear mites, it is important to clean out their cage and surrounding areas to prevent re-infestation. It is also important to sterilize water bowls and food dishes for the same reason. When rabbits shake or scratch at their ears, falling flakes of skin and crusts (which often contain live mites and eggs) come in contain with a rabbit’s environment.

e) Frequent Shampoos:

It is not uncommon to see ear mites travel to other parts of your pet’s body, including the head, outside of the ears, and the tip of the tail (as mites often reach the end of tails when they curl close to the head). A tea infusion using Yellow Dock is known to make an effective final rinse after shampooing.

f) White Vinegar:

Some veterinarians suggest the use of white vinegar for treating ear mites because the acidity helps remove dirt and debris, which also aims to revitalize a healthy equilibrium within the ears. Using a small amount of diluted vinegar is suggested, which is made when combining one part vinegar and two parts of water together. Gently pour the remedy into the ears, making sure to thoroughly massage the solution. This treatment is then followed by a gentle wipe of the inside of the ear using cotton ball.

It is important to note that this remedy is not good to use on pets that have sores or intense irritation located inside the ears. An uncomfortable stinging is the result.

g) Vinegar and Oil:

Use vinegar and a heavy oil (such as olive oil) to pack a one-two punch against ear mites. First, irrigate your pet’s ears with vinegar, which will change the pH and kill mite eggs. Follow up by placing five drops of the oil into each ear, and gently massage the base of the ear before allowing your pet to shake it out again. The oil will drown live mites, as well as provide soothing relief in the ear. To see the best results, irrigate the ears weekly and apply oil every other day.

h) Mineral Oil:

You may temporarily combat ear mites by soaking a cotton ball with mineral oil and swabbing the inside of your pet’s ears [6].

i) Hydrogen Peroxide:

Use hydrogen peroxide as an ear mite remedy only if you have a cooperative pet, as it can cause harm if it comes in contact with your cat’s eyes. To avoid any mishaps, dab a clean Q-tip into a bottle of peroxide (making sure that it is not soaking wet), and then wipe only the parts of your cat’s ear that you can see. Wiping in an upwards direction is highly recommended, so that you can avoid the falling of debris into the ear canal. Hold your cat on its side while you perform this remedy.

j) Alcohol and Peroxide:

Another way to remedy dog ear mites is to combine the healing power of rubbing alcohol and peroxide. After thoroughly cleaning your canine’s ears, mix equal parts of both substances. Dip a Q-tip into the solution, and apply to the dog’s ear canal. It is important not to go too far into the ear or you can cause damage to the ear drums.

k) Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth [7]:

Add a pinch of food-grade diatomaceous earth to your pet’s ears on a daily basis for one month as a way to kill current or newly hatched mites. Some people will also add a bit of warm water to the diatomaceous earth, and use a dropper to administer. It is extremely important that you DO NOT use the kind of diatomaceous earth used for pool filtration.

l) Baby Oil:

Treat cat ear mites by adding a couple of drops of baby oil to his or her affected ears. The oil has a drowning effect on the ear mites.

m) Aloe Vera Gel:

An ear mite remedy for dogs that also provides safe, effective, soothing relief to the ears is to use the gel of an aloe vera plant leaf. Simply break off a small end of a leaf, and use a Q-tip to swab the ear with the gel. Within a few days, you should see a change in the condition of your pet’s ear.

n) Flea Medication:

To treat ear mites in cats or dogs, many swear by using flea treatments, such as Frontline and Revolution, to kill ear mites. Place one drop in each ear as a daily treatment.

o) Hand Sanitizer:

Who would have thought that the same product used to remove germs from your hands can eliminate an ear mite problem in cats? After administering one to two squirts, massage the base of the ears. After two days, you should see no more head shaking or scratching on the part of your pet [8]. If you use the sanitizer that comes with a hand pump, you can easily administer the remedy with a few squirts. Follow up with a gentle massage of the ears. Do not use this remedy on ears that have already been scratched raw, or your pet will experience a burning sensation from the alcohol content of the hand sanitizer.

p) Vicks Vapor Rub:

Use a cotton ball to swab the ears of your dog with Vicks Vapor Rub once a day as a way to suffocate ear mites. After 24 hours, clean out the ears to prepare for a reapplication. It is suggested to repeat the treatment for three weeks.

q) Vaseline:

If you have a cat that can’t stand liquids coming in contact with his or her ears, some people use Vaseline as a home remedy for ear mites. Rubbing petroleum jelly inside the ears while petting your feline should prove effective. The Vaseline works by suffocating the mites. Some cats stop scratching after just one application. Repeat the application every day for a week to make sure all mites and eggs have been taken care of.

r) Yellow Dock Root Extract:

A convenient ear mite remedy to make at home may include Yellow Dock root extract, where nine drops of the extract are diluted with one tablespoon of water. Fill half of a dropper with the mixture and place in the ears. It is important to continue this treatment for many weeks (every other day) because ear mite eggs are rather resistant to home treatments, but once they hatch – a continuous treatment will prevent new hatchlings from reproducing until no more eggs exist.

s) Honey:

A natural home remedy for ear mites in rabbits is honey – an effective healing substance that is both antiseptic and antibacterial. Add three teaspoons of honey to a bowl with three ounces of warm water. Mix the ingredients together until the honey has completely dissolved in the water. With the help of a bulb syringe, squeeze the solution into the rabbit’s ear – making sure the liquid covers the entire inside of the ear. You will have to hold the ear in the upright position to make sure the inner ear is coated. Repeat the process in the other ear.

t) Apple Cider Vinegar and Olive Oil:

Treat ear mites in a rabbit by mixing a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in olive oil. Using a dropper, administer 6-7 drops of the mixture into each ear – holding the ear flap closed for a few minutes after each treatment. If not, the rabbit will shake out all the oil.

u) Garlic and Olive Oil:

Create an ear mite treatment for cats by soaking crushed garlic in warm olive oil overnight. Warm up the remaining olive oil in the morning, and add five drops of the remedy in each ear – repeating the process for a period of 21 days. This remedy will not only smother the ear mites, but also deliver the healing powers of garlic as well.

v) Clean Pet Bedding:

If you want any home remedy for ear mites to be effective, you must also routinely clean your pet’s bedding during treatments.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mite ?
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ear_mite
[3] http://psychology.utoledo.edu/default.asp?id=198
[4] http://purinaone.com/catcare_cond_atoz_article.asp?Seed=656&ArticleNumber=43