Ear Mites 101: The Symptoms

Something is just not right about your pup.

You’ve noticed that he’s not quite himself and in particular he’s been shaking his ears a lot. That is an early indication of your dog suffering from ear mite symptoms. What are ear mites? The medical term for ear mites is otodectes cynotis. Ear mites are parasites that live in the ears. Though they are nearly invisible to the naked eye, they look a lot like ticks. Without a microscope, ear mites look like little white dots. For mites to fully develop it takes approximately three weeks. They are highly contagious and reproduce quickly so it’s possible that thousands of ear mites can be living in a canine’s ears. It’s no surprise that ear mite symptoms cause such discomfort.  

Here are common ear mite symptoms you may notice:

  • An unpleasant odor in their ears
  • Constant scratching behind or inside their ears
  • Red and swollen ears
  • Debris in their ears that look like coffee grounds
  • Increased ear wax
  • Ear canal appears inflamed
  • Unusual head tilt or loss of balance
  • Sudden hair loss develops around the ears
  • Ear flaps are thickened, bleeding, crusted, or oozing


If you suspect your dog is experiencing ear mite symptoms, do not treat your pup with over-the-counter medications. Contact our office for a vet visit. We can conduct a proper exam and provide you with an assessment. It may be necessary that we run blood tests and a urinalysis. These tests will also rule out any serious illnesses. Depending on the severity of your pup’s ear mite symptoms, we may collect skin scrapings and conduct a dermatologic exam.

If we determine the absolute presence of ear mites, we will begin treatment by flushing your dog’s ears to get rid of any ear wax or discharge. We may also use oils and medicinal drops directly in the ear canal or via an injection. We will also provide your pup with medication to use over the next 30 days. Ear mites die pretty quickly. Although your dog may not be displaying any ear mite symptoms, finish the medication to ensure your pup’s future health and comfort.