Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Ear mites are tiny insects that live inside the ear canal and suck your dog´s blood.
Next to fleas and ticks, these little bugs are a dog´s greatest headache. They really annoy her, and she will scratch constantly.
Your dog can pick up ear mites just playing with others at the dog park and a lot of time they are not even noticed until quite far along. Most vets will prescribe chemicals to kill the mites, and a steroid to keep her from itching, but the easiest and most effective treatments can be started at home.
Diagnosing Ear Mites at Home
An ear mite infection is pretty hard to diagnose at home. If you do not have a vet available, you can remove some of that black waxy material from the ear and put it on a wet paper towel. That black material is blood, so the paper towel should turn red around the wax.
If you do have a vet available, take her in for an ear swab and so that the vet can check the eardrums with an otoscope before you start treatment. You will usually notice an ear mite infestation when your dog starts shaking her head and scratching; if not taken care of your dog can bleed pretty severely. When you take the dog in for an examination the vet will look at a swab under the microscope, and if mites are found, will recommend several medications.
You are not obligated to purchase medication! You can use plain vinegar and water to loosen up the dried blood in the ear before using the treatment suggested below.
(Don’t use the dilute vinegar cleaning solution if your dog has already scratched up the insides of her ears because it really hurts.)
Simple Ear Mite Treatments at Home
Ear mites can actually be treated in several ways. They are most active at night so clean and treat the ears each evening at bedtime.
1. You can put olive oil in the ears every other night for six weeks, and the mites will drown. The adults are going to die right away, the first night you treat the ears with olive oil, and as the new mites hatch over the next six weeks they will also drown in the olive oil and the problem will be eliminated. (Sometimes this will have to be repeated about 3 weeks after the first treatment regimen is completed. If your dog develops black waxy buildup after you stop, he may be getting reinfected from another animal. If this is the case, repeat the treatment.)
2. I have also heard about people just using corn oil, but the olive oil works well, so I have never had to use this alternative. Olive oil is also a better moisturizer and may actually improve healing of the skin.
Are There Other Alternatives to Treat Mites at Home?
3. Another therapy, one I have not needed since I have had good results with killing the mites with olive oil, is to use a dilute yellow dock solution (yellow dock is Rumex crispus) and treat the ears every three days for six weeks.
The yellow dock solution is diluted nine drops to 15 drops of water, but you can buy it in an herbal pharmacy already diluted and ready to use. I have also heard of using the yellow dock on other parts of the body where the mites spread, but if you destroy the infection in the ears, this probably won´t even be needed.
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What Happens If I Ignore This?
Ear mites cause a lot of discomfort to your dog as they chew on the inside of your ear.
A simple mite infestation, though, can be treated at home and it is certainly nothing you need to rush to the emergency vet for. I have heard about dog and cat ear mite infections affecting some humans and causing rashes but have been treating these infections for over 30 years and HAVE NEVER seen it.
If you have a dog with floppy ears and she starts shaking her head until her ears swell up at the tips, she probably has developed blood between the skin, an aural hematoma. This is more serious and cannot be treated at home. She will need to have her ear punctured, the blood drained out, and she may have to have her ear sewn down to keep it from filling up with blood again. If you do not get this taken care of properly the clot will contract, and she will end up with a “cauliflower” ear.
This slideshow will give you an idea of what your dog´s ear mites look like when seen under the microscope.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: How much olive oil do I apply?
Answer: Fill the ear canal up, enough to drown the mites. Your dog will shake the excess out.
Question: How often do I use the olive oil to get rid of ear mites?
Answer: If you drown the mites with olive oil, you should do so again in three weeks to kill any that hatch after your treatment. See how the ears are doing after that and treat again if needed.
Question: How much vinegar and water do I mix to create the solution to get rid of ear mites in dogs?
Answer: It depends on the size of your dog or dogs. I have several large dogs so I usually mix up a small cup of water and a small cup of vinegar. Use enough so that it pours out of the ear canal.
Question: Can I use Neosporin to treat my dog's ear mites?
Answer: No, that product is an antibiotic and steroid for inflammation. If your dog does have mites, it is not effective.
Question: Will organic coconut oil work for getting rid of ear mites?
Answer: Coconut oil should work fine, but I have not tried it on ear mites. I use coconut oil for dogs with dry skin and for chronic yeast infections.
Question: Can I use peroxide and Q-tips until I get olive oil for my dog?
Answer: If you cannot get your olive oil until tomorrow, and you want to give your dog some temporary relief, you can clean the ears out with dilute vinegar: https://hubpages.com/dogs/How-to-Clean-Ears-with-V...
Do not stick a Q-tip down your dog's ear.
Question: Should I clean my dog's ears with canine cleaning solution before killing the ear mites?
Answer: Yes, it is helpful, and the olive oil will work better if the ears are cleaned before using. If the ears are not scratched too badly, you can clean them out with a diluted vinegar solution. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/How-to-Clean-Ears-with...
Question: Our dog has ear mites and has been treated. She has one-week-old puppies. Do we need to do anything for them?
Answer: If the adult female did have mites, you need to clean the kennel where she sleeps very thoroughly. Mites are contagious. Treat the puppies the same way you treated the adult, but use a lot less. The ear canals are small and may need only a drop of olive oil to drown the mites. Check them every few days to make sure they are not scratching or producing excessive ear wax.
© 2012 Dr Mark
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 19, 2020:
Mr Lumlei, thanks for picking that up. Yes, if the condition persists it is a good idea to repeat the treatment in about 6 weeks. It does not need to be done in all cases, as the first treatment regimen is often enough to eliminate the problem.
Mr Lumlei on July 19, 2020:
Dear Mark. Thanks for the help with ear mite. Olive oil sounds the way to go. But the treatment advice is a bit confusing. You first advise: "put olive oil in the ears every other night for six weeks, and the mites will drown". You then add in reply to a question: "If you drown the mites with olive oil, you should do so again in three weeks to kill any that hatch after your treatment".
Please confirm if you are saying do (a) initial 6 x week (every other day) course then follow up (b) 3 x weeks later with a REPEAT 6 x week course? This would make sense to me as well-established ear mites are highly persistent and a challenge to irradicate 100%.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 24, 2019:
Fill the ear canal up, enough to drown the mites. Your dog will shake the excess out.
Mary on November 21, 2019:
How many drops of olive oil do I put in my poodle ear ?
BASSEY EYO on September 17, 2019:
my dog is having a serious wound on his ear, and it has been treated severally but it still the same please what can i do.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 04, 2018:
If your dog is in pain, it is not a good idea to clean the ears with vinegar as this can be VERY painful. If he does have mites though it is okay to use the olive oil to kill the mites.
Dolphin on December 02, 2018:
Is it ok to put the oil even if my puppy’s ear hurts as he scratches ??
seal on August 31, 2018:
can I use all of the above for a 3 lb dog
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 14, 2018:
Gapineapple, you can just pour the olive oil in there to drown the mites. The excess can be wiped off with a wash cloth.
I never recommend you give Carprofen (the component of vetprofen) to dogs without having blood work done both before and during the medication. It is dangerous and has caused death in dogs. You can read more about the effects on the internet, or my article:
Gapineapple on February 14, 2018:
Hi Mark...I have a cocker spaniel who has ear mites. I will take her to the vet in the morning. My question....I don’t want to put too much Olive Oil....how much? I also gave her Verprofin to relieve the heat or is it pain (?) in her ears?
susan duffy on June 13, 2017:
do you use a dropper to put in the olive oil and should you clean their ears with a flushing solution firsts?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 16, 2017:
Peppersmom--the hematoma should be drained as soon as possible. The ear then needs to be taped down to the head so that it does not fill back up if the dog starts shaking her head again.
If it is not drained, it can develop into a cauliflour ear. The scarring is permanent.
Pepper'sgmom on February 16, 2017:
Thank you so much for this! Sadly, my grandpup's new Vet did nothing I've read to treat the when she woke w a hematoma Monday. We were sent home w antibiotics & ear cleaner (which I've had to google to use). I've given her aspirin for pain. Is it best to drain the hematoma when it initially happens?
smithy on February 09, 2017:
This essential oil is enriched vitamin E and other fatty acids, which helps in faster healing. It soothes the irritated, swollen, and red skin in the ears. Almond oil is great for sensitive skin.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 03, 2017:
I cannot tell you an exact amount since dog ears are sometimes large, sometimes small, etc. It has to be a liberal amount, enough to drown the mites. Make sure all of the inside of the pinna is coated, so if you need 10 drops, use them. If you need 15, use 15, etc.
Carol Robertson on February 02, 2017:
How much olive oil do u use ?
Renee on July 03, 2016:
I swabbed the inside of my dog's ears last night before bed and have seen improvement already. I didn't add any drops to the ear canal because I wasn't sure how many drops to add. Can you please tell me what is safe and effective in terms of the amount? Many thanks.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 21, 2016:
Will: who would have told you something like that? Someone selling ear products? Yes, it is okay to clean your dog´s ears with dilute vinegar and treat ear mites with olive oil.
Will Morgan's on April 21, 2016:
I got told never put olive oil in a dogs ear.My dog has been constantly scratching her ear and shaking her head for the last two weeks.So its ok to put olive oil in her ear?