Welcome to the all-new Vetlearn

  • Vetlearn is becoming part of NAVC VetFolio.
    Starting in January 2015, Compendium and
    Veterinary Technician articles will be available on
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    access to not only the journals, but also:
  • Over 500 hours of CE
  • Community forums to discuss tough cases
    and networking with your peers
  • Three years of select NAVC Conference
    Proceedings
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Care Guide

About Care Guides[x] These care guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions, tests, and procedures, as well as to provide basic information about pet care. They are based on the most up-to-date, documented information, recommendations, and guidelines available in the United States at the time of writing. Pharmaceutical product licensing, availability, and usage recommendations are based on US product information. Use the Download Handout button to generate a PDF for printing or e-mailing to your clients.

Ear Mites in Dogs and Cats

    • The scientific name for ear mites is Otodectes cynotis.
    • Ear mites are contagious to other animals but not to humans.
    • Ear mite infestation can cause secondary ear infections, but the mites and infections are both treatable with medication.

    What Are Ear Mites?

    Ear mites are small parasites that live on an animal’s body, particularly in the ears of dogs and cats. Ear mites sustain themselves by eating skin cells, blood, and earwax. They deposit their waste (a dark, crusty debris) in the ear of the host animal. They also mate and produce eggs in the ear of the host. The mite’s entire life cycle is only about 3 weeks, and the mite spends its whole life on the animal. Ear mites are contagious to some other animals (for example, cats, dogs, and ferrets), but they are not contagious to humans.

    Signs of Ear Mites

    • Shaking/rubbing of the head and ears
    • Dark, crusty debris in the ears
    • Itching/scratching
    • Secondary ear infections
    • Red and inflamed ears

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Ear mites are microscopic. Your veterinarian can find them by examining ear debris under a microscope.

    Fortunately, ear mite infestations are very treatable. If ear mites have caused a secondary ear infection, it should be treated while the ear mite infestation is being treated.

    Your veterinarian may prescribe ear drops that kill the mites when the medication is applied into your pet’s ears. Some spot-on flea and tick medications also kill ear mites. Your veterinarian will examine your pet and recommend an appropriate treatment.

    Because ear mites are contagious to other pets, all animals in the household should also be treated. If your pet goes outside frequently and can pick up ear mites again, consider regular use of a flea/tick medication that also controls ear mites.