Ear Mites in Cats and Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

Unless you’ve had to deal with treating a cat or dog with ear mites, you might not know much about them. Sure, you’re aware that these pesky creatures reside in your pets’ ears and cause discomfort, but that’s often the extent of your knowledge. So, here’s everything you need to know about ear mites in dogs and cats.

What Are Ear Mites?

Let’s begin by answering the question, “What are ear mites?” Ear mites are tick-like insects that infest the ears of your beloved pets. Unlike ticks, they are challenging to spot without a microscope. The most effective way to confirm your cat or dog has ear mites is by examining a magnified earwax sample.

However, you may notice tiny white dots in your pets’ ears or a black discharge resembling coffee grounds. These are clear indications of ear mite infestation, even though they may be harder to spot on animals with dark fur.

How Do Cats and Dogs Get Ear Mites?

Now that you know what ear mites are, let’s discuss how cats and dogs acquire them in the first place. Ear mites are arachnids that have no qualms about migrating from one animal to another. This transfer can be challenging to notice, especially when it comes to dogs getting ear mites.

For instance, when an affectionate cat with ear mites engages in headbutting or bunting with an uninfected dog, the ear mites easily jump from one animal to the next. As a result, you end up with two pets suffering from ear mites.

What Are the Symptoms of Ear Mites?

To assess whether your pet has ear mites, it’s important to know what symptoms to look for. Differentiating between ear mites and a yeast infection can be tricky, so being aware of the primary signs is crucial.

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The common symptoms of ear mite infestation include:

  • Scratching ears
  • Head shaking
  • Hair loss from over-grooming or scratching
  • Blisters on ears
  • Dark waxy discharge resembling coffee grounds
  • White specks inside ears

Depending on the severity of the infestation, you may also notice bald spots on other parts of your pet’s body, such as the base of the tail, under the arms, or on the belly. This excessive grooming is an attempt to self-soothe and alleviate the stress caused by ear mites.

On the other hand, yeast infections in pets manifest through symptoms like change in skin pigmentation, greasy/oily skin, head shaking/tilting, scratching, drooling, localized alopecia, and odor. It’s important to note the differences between these symptoms to accurately diagnose and treat your pet.

How Can You Treat Ear Mites in Dogs and Cats?

If you confirm that your dog or cat has ear mites, it’s vital to seek veterinary help. Ear mites are contagious and undoubtedly cause discomfort to your furry friend. Moreover, if left untreated, they can lead to blisters and subsequent secondary infections.

Licensed veterinarians recommend various products for treating ear mites. As you cannot treat the eggs, the focus is on eliminating the adults and larvae. The use of insecticides like Bravecto for dogs is often effective in killing the adult and larval stages of ear mites.

While Bravecto is safe for dogs, some people wonder if it’s harmful to them. Rest assured, it is not, but if you have concerns, there are alternative treatments available. The treatment method, whether applied topically, sprayed in the ears, or administered orally, depends on the prescription provided by the vet.

What is the Life Cycle of Mites in Dogs and Cats?

The life cycle of ear mites consists of five distinct stages: eggs, larvae, molts, nymphs, and adults. After mating, adult ear mites lay eggs in the ear canals of dogs and cats. If left untreated, the infestation can spread across a pet’s face. Therefore, immediate treatment is essential upon noticing the symptoms to prevent further complications.

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It takes around four days for the eggs to hatch, and without treatment, your pet can become infested with a substantial number of ear mites.

Are Ear Mites Dangerous?

While there are more significant health issues that pets can face, ear mites are undoubtedly one of the most uncomfortable afflictions. Additionally, the constant scratching and self-inflicted wounds can lead to bacterial or fungal infections, requiring further medical care.

Can Cats Get Ear Mites From Dogs?

Absolutely! Ear mites are highly contagious and do not discriminate when it comes to selecting hosts. However, it’s worth noting that while pets can transmit ear mites to humans, it is relatively rare.

Mites in Dogs vs. Mites in Cats

Now, let’s discuss how ear mites affect cats and dogs differently.


Even though cats and dogs experience ear mites differently, they share some similarities. Both are capable of transmitting ear mites to the other species. Additionally, both cats and dogs are prone to red, itchy ears and have a higher likelihood of developing bacterial or fungal infections due to prolonged exposure to ear mites.


The primary distinction lies in the persistence and resistance of feline ear mites to treatment. Compared to cats, there are more treatment options available for ear mites in dogs. Furthermore, despite the toxicological similarity of ear mites in cats and dogs, veterinarians often prescribe different medications based on the species involved.

Key Takeaways on Mites

If you’re interested in a more in-depth look, check out our clinical article on surface mites in dogs and cats. Remember, the longer you wait to address ear mites, the greater the chance of complications, such as bacterial or fungal infections. Additionally, dogs can get ear mites from cats and vice versa. Immediate treatment helps limit your pets’ exposure to ear mites. Lastly, avoid attempting to treat ear mites at home. Numerous effective medications are available, but it’s important to consult a veterinarian to determine the most suitable treatment for your cat or dog.

For reliable and immediate treatment options, consult a vet at Katten TrimSalon, where your pets’ well-being is our top priority. Katten TrimSalon