What causes ear mites in dogs and cats?

What causes ear mites in dogs and cats?

What causes ear mites in dogs and cats?


What causes ear mites in dogs and cats?

It is not unusual to see a cat or dog scratching their ears and shaking their head. However, if you see your pet doing this more than normal, it could be a sign that he or she is suffering from a parasitic infestation known as ear mites. 

What are ear mites and what causes them?

Ear mites are creatures that resemble tiny spiders and they live in your pet’s ear, feeding on her blood and the tissue of the ear canal to survive. Once they reach adulthood they can reproduce, causing more and more mites to appear. While it is possible for just one ear to be infected, in most cases an animal will experience ear mites in both ears at the same time.

Ear mites are contracted from the environment in which your pet lives or visits. Often, they attach to your furbaby when she passes through heavily grassed or wooded areas, clinging onto her when she brushes past. However, since they are very easily passed between animals, if your cat or dog comes into contact with an infected animal on the street, in the groomers or kennels, or even your local veterinary offices in Castle Rock, CO, she could become infected with ear mites too. 

Many people worry if ear mites can be passed to humans. However, this is not the case. Ear mites can only be transferred between cats, dogs and ferrets. They also do not live long without a host. 

Symptoms of ear mites in dogs and cats?

Ear mites are incredibly small, which can make them difficult to spot. However, if you gently clean your pet’s ears with a soft cloth and check the residue that appears, you may be able to spot them. They look like tiny white dots, no bigger than a period on the end of a sentence. 

Every animal is different, but there are some generalized symptoms that could suggest that your cat or dog is suffering from an ear mite infestation. These include:

  • Strong odor coming from the ears
  • Black or brown waxy secretions from the ears
  • Inflammation of the ear, including redness and the ear becoming hot to the touch
  • Debris in the ear canal that looks like coffee grounds
  • Excessively itching, scratching or rubbing of her ears
  • Hair loss around the ears
  • Persistently shaking her head. This is because the mites cause intense irritation. 
  • Skin problems such as dermatitis and scabs around the ears

Treating ear mites in dogs and cats

Fortunately, ear mites are perfectly treatable and the process to do so is usually fairly straightforward. Once your vet in Castle Rock has confirmed the diagnosis, he/she will probably prescribe topical medications which should destroy all of the ear mites. There are a variety of topical treatment types including eardrops, ointments and creams and these must be used exactly as directed. You will be able to complete the course of treatment at home. 

If your cat or dog has damaged the skin around her ears as a result of scratching them excessively, further treatment may be needed. This may consist of oral and/or topical antibiotics, which again should be administered as advised and the course finished. In some cases, it might be necessary for your pet to be fitted with a cone collar which will prevent her from doing further damage to her ears. 

Is it possible to prevent ear mites from affecting my pet? 

There are some topical treatments on prescription that can prevent ear mites, with some also protecting your pet against fleas. Veterinarians also advise that the best way to keep these irritating little parasites away is to clean your pet’s ears regularly using a soft, damp cloth. This will enable you to spot any mites quickly, and before they can multiply and become a significant problem for your pet.  


If you are concerned that your cat or dog might be suffering from ear mites, please do not hesitate to contact us our vets in Castle Rock, CO to schedule an appointment. With prompt treatment, we can alleviate your pet’s suffering and prevent further complications from occurring.