The Ultimate Guide to Ear Mites in Cats and dogs – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Ear Mites in cats and dogs can be a relatively common problem, and can cause a wide range of symptoms – from mild irritation to intense itching and discharge. If you’re concerned that your pet may be suffering from ear mites, there are a few things you can do to test for the problem and find the best treatment. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of ear mites in cats and dogs, as well as the symptoms to look out for, and the best way to treat ear mites in cats and dogs.

Ear mites in cats are one of the most commonly seen veterinary health care problems.  Treating ear mites in cats has finally become a relatively easy experience now that veterinarians can prescribe safe and effective medications that do not require applications every other day for weeks. Caused by a little mite called Otodectes cynotis, the mites generally live along the surface of the ear canal, but can also be found on other areas of the body or in the environment.   These mites can, but seldom do, infest humans.  If present for long periods, hey can lead to serious ear difficulties in cats and dogs

Ear Mites in Cats and dogs

As ear mites move about and feed along the cat or dog’s ear canal they create substantial irritation and subsequent inflammation.  The mites feed on tissue debris and secretions from the ear canal lining.  With repeated irritation, the ear canal thickens and debris builds up within the ear canal.  This debris, caused by mite waste products, dead tissue and fluid resembles coffee grounds.  In chronic (long term) cases of ear mites in cats and dogs, there often is secondary bacterial and yeast infections present that complicate the treatment and create even more stress on the animal.  

Generally, ear mites do not break the ear drum.  However, in the presence of infection and with severe enough affliction with ear mites, the ear drum can be penetrated.  When this occurs, a very severe middle ear disorder can result where the animal can loose balance, become disoriented and have severe physical signs of trouble.


The ear mite life cycle, which takes about twenty-one days from egg to adult, entails going through four different stages:

Stage 1: The Eggs

Female ear mites usually lay about 5 eggs daily during their entire adult life. Deposited on the surface lining of the ear canal, the eggs hatch within 4 days.

Stage 2: The Larvae

Once hatched from the eggs, the larvae feed for 4 days then rest for 24 hours as they molt into the nymphal phase.

Stage 3: The Nymphs

Two stages of nymphs are recognized. Each feeds for 3 to 5 days and then rests and then molts to the next stage.

Stage 4: The Adults

Just barely visible to the naked eye, the adult ear mite appears white in color and feeds off the epithelial debris in the cat’s ear.  There can be literally thousands of mites crawling about the ear canal and external ear surfaces.  Ear mites do not burrow into the skin as Sarcoptic Mites and Demodex Mites do.  They are communicable from one animal to another by direct contact.


Head shaking
* Scratching the ears (there may be sores around the ears as a result of scratching)
* Reddish-brown to black discharge (crusts and cerumen) in the ears that resemble coffee grounds
* Sometimes there seem to be no observable signs of ear mites


A diagnosis of ear mites by the veterinarian is usually made by one of the following methods:
* Direct visualization of the mites with an otoscope
* Microscopic examination of the ear discharge

Although some cats show no outward signs of ear mite infestations, the mites can be diagnosed as described above.  In most cats with ear mites if you briskly rub the ear canal area the cat will respond by automatic scratching movements of the back leg.   Triggering this automatic scratching movement seldom occurs in cats that do not have ear mites.  Veterinarians check for ear mites as part of the routine physical exam, especially in multi-cat households.  


There are a number of medications used to treat ear mites in cats.  Your veterinarian will prescribe an effective product.  One study showed that treatment with ACAREXX was 92% effective in treating adult ear mite (Otodectes cynotis) infestations after 7 days. In a well-controlled clinical field trial, one treatment of ACAREXX was 94% effective in clearing cats and kittens of adult ear mite infestations within 7 to 10 days.   Your veterinarian may prescribe a different method or different medication; be sure to have a follow-up exam done four weeks after you think all the mites are gone.

If you’re a cat or dog owner, you know that ear mites can be really pesky. They cause your pet to itch and suffer from discomfort, which can lead to further health problems. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of ear mites in cats and dogs. We’ll also give you some tips on how to identify them and protect your pet from them. So read on to learn everything you need to know about ear mites in cats and dogs!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are symptoms of ear mites in cats?

excessively moving their head or picking at their ears, experiencing wax buildup and irritation-related red and irritated ears. Causing an ear discharge that is dark, dry, and occasionally smelly.

How do I check for ear mites in cats?

Because they are so tiny, ear mites are frequently identified by a veterinarian after looking at discharge from your cat’s ears under a microscope. However, if you look closely with a magnifying glass, you may occasionally be able to see the mites as little white specks moving about in your cat’s ear. The majority of the time, as a pet owner, you will become aware of the signs of ear mites and have a veterinarian confirm their presence.

What causes ear mites?

Your pet can get ear mites from the surroundings in which it lives or travels. They frequently stick to your pet when she walks through densely vegetated or grassy regions and attach to her when she brushes by.

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