Warning Signs of Ear Mites

Don’t let the ear mites bite! These parasites live on the surface of a dog’s skin, lining the ear canal. Ear mites pierce the skin to feed, causing inflammation and discomfort. If left untreated, ear mites can cause bacterial infections and even hearing loss.

Some warning signs include:

Excessive and persistent scratching around the ears

Head shaking

Restless behaviour

Ears that are painful to the touch, even causing the pet to cry out in pain

Brown material in the ears

A foul-smelling odour

Ear mites are transmitted from dog to dog. Puppies can acquire them from their mother, and they can jump from one household pet to another. The best preventive measure to take is to treat all pets within one residence for mites, particularly in kennels.

Dogs with long, floppy ears are more prone to ear mite infections, as air movement is restricted, promoting infection and bacterial growth. If your pup becomes infected, see a veterinarian who can prescribe the right medicine. In some instances, bacteria (a secondary infection to mites) may develop resistance to a given medication. It’s a good idea to make follow-up visits to your veterinarian to be sure the infection is cleared up.

Check your dog’s ears as part of his regular grooming routine. Remember, a certain amount of wax is normal. When you clean your pet’s ears, use a cotton ball or clean washcloth—but avoid using cotton-tipped swabs, which can poke debris against the eardrum and even damage the inner ear.

NOTE: Scratching is a common dog behaviour that can indicate many different things, from allergies to ear mites, to fleas or other health conditions. If your dog is scratching away, consult your veterinarian before assuming fleas or mites are the culprits. A vet will help you determine the source of the problem, as well as the right course of action to take.