Dog Ear Mites

Ear mites are very contagious and can spread to most dogs in the household. The mites cause intense itching. This page looks at the symptoms of ear mites in dogs and how to use natural remedies such as herbs, homeopathy, and natural supplements to treat this dog ear problem.

German Shepherd Puppy Ear mites are more common in cats than in dogs, but some dogs, especially those with a weakened immune system, do get them.

Mites are very tiny parasites and, for your dog to have them, he must have had direct contact with another pet infested with the parasites.

The most common form of mite that infects dogs is the Otodectic mite (Otodectes cynotis).

Ear mites usually live in the ear canals and head of dogs. Specially, they live on the skin surface in the ear canals and feed on debris from ear secretion. Mite infestation can cause outer ear infection in dogs, and can even cause permanent damage to the ear canal or ear drum, resulting in hearing loss.

Besides living in the ear canals of dogs, sometimes the mites may also migrate to the dogs' bodies. When this happens, the dog infested with mites will develop itchy spots on his back, neck and tail areas.

Canine ear mites have a three-week cycle and can survive off the host for several weeks.

Ear mites are more common in puppies, although they can be present in dogs of all ages.

As in many other dog illnesses, mite infestation is largely due to low immunities in the dogs. Dogs with a properly functioning immune system are less likely to be bothered by mites.

It follows that, to take care of the root problem of mite infestation, we should:

  • get rid of the mites; and more importantly,
  • strengthen the dog's immune system.

Symptoms and Treatment of Dog Ear Mites

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Common Symptoms of Ear Mites

Suspect ear mites if both of your dog's ears are involved.

If your dog has ear mites, he will show the following symptoms:

  • Excessive scratching of the affected ear(s)
  • Dark brown crumbly wax in the affected ear(s)
  • Head shaking
  • Pain, sensitive, sometimes swollen ear
  • A bad odor from the affected ear(s)
  • Hair loss around the affected ear(s)

The symptoms above resemble other ear problems such as yeast infection. If your dog shows the above symptoms, therefore, it is important to take him to the vet for a proper diagnosis. You can also try to confirm mites by removing some waxy discharge from your dog's ears and, using a magnifying glass, look for some white specks that move.

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Herbal Remedies for Dogs with Ear Mites

Conventional treatment for dog ear mites may involve the use of a miticide or a flea control product (e.g. Revolution).

If you prefer to go the natural way, consider herbs. Herbs are effective in cleaning the ears and getting rid of the mites. It may take a longer period of time for natural remedies such as herbs to work. However, unless your dog has a very serious ear mite infestation and/or infection, it is better to go natural because medications such as miticides, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. corticosteroids) do cause undesirable side effects and can further weaken your dog's immune system.

Here are some useful herbs that you can try to use:

Yellow Dock

A tea of yellow dock is effective in treating dog ear mites. Add one teaspoon of the dry herb of yellow dock to half a cup of boiling water. Let the tea cool down. Then strain it with a piece of cheese cloth and pour the liquid into a bottle and place about half a dropperful of the tea into the ears, twice a day. Massage the ears gently.

Mullein and Garlic

The antimicrobial and antiviral properties of mullein make it an excellent herb for treating ear infections caused by mites in dogs. Garlic is antibiotic; when used in combination with mullein, it is also effective for treating ear problems.

To make a mullein and garlic herbal remedy for ear mites, simply combine equal parts of mullein oil and garlic oil. Then to every ounce of this oil mixture, add ten to twenty drops of pure olive oil (or vitamin E). Mix well. Apply this oil mixture to the ear canal of your dog and gently massage the dog ear.

Oregon Grape

The strong antibiotic and antibacterial properties of Oregon grape makes it an effective herb for treating ear infections or mites. Use an oil infusion of the herb. Apply 1-10 drops at a time in each ear once or twice daily.

Homeopathic Remedies for Dog Ear Mites

Homeopathic remedies can also be used effectively to treat ear mites in dogs. If you want to use homeopathic treatment, ask a holistic vet about the use of Apis, Pulsatilla, Sulphur or Silicea.

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An Effective Homeopathic Product for Ear Mites


This homeopathic remedy contains Apis, Pulsatilla, Echinacea, etc. and is effective in relieving symptoms of mites, minor ear infection, redness, swelling, and pain.

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Supplements to Strengthen the Immune System

In addition to eliminating ear mites, it is essential to use herbs and/or dietary supplements to strengthen your dog's immune system. Parasites tend to affect weak hosts more so than strong hosts.

Supplements that can boost your dog's immune system include:

  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant and can be given internally to help the immune system clear up ear infections caused by mites. (Dosages: For small dogs - 125 mg twice daily. For medium dogs, 250 mg twice daily. For large dogs, up to 1,000 mg twice daily - decrease dosage if dog has diarrhea.)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Alternatively, you can add a splash of organic apple cider vinegar in the dog's drinking water.
  • Echinacea: Echinacea tablets, tea, or tincture can be given to your dog to strengthen her immune system.

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Important Points to Remember
When Treating Dog Ear Mites

  • Before ear mite treatment can be effective, you need to clean out all the debris in your dog's ear canal. Visit our page on Cleaning Dog Ears to see how to clean your dog's ears properly.
  • When treating dog ear mites, bear in mind the life-cycle of ear mites. Treatment may have to be repeated at intervals for approximately three weeks to completely get rid of the mites.
  • As ear mites are highly contagious, you need to treat all the pets in your family even if they show no symptoms of infestation. Ear mites can quickly re-infect all the pets in the house if one is left untreated.
  • As mentioned above, dog ear mites can cause ear infections. Therefore, after treating your dog's ear mites, you may still find that your dog is troubled with an uncomfortable and sore ear, in which case be sure to consult your vet to determine if your dog is indeed suffering from an ear infection. If so, the ear infection will of course need to be treated accordingly.

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