Ear Mites in Puppies and Dogs

Ear mites in puppies can cause a lot of discomfort for your Cocker Spaniel. If his ears are infected, they will become very painful. If left untreated, his hearing could be affected.

Learn more about ear mites in dogs and puppies and how to keep your pet safe.

Ear Mites in Puppies: What You Should Know 

Ear mites in dogs and puppies can cause a lot of misery and discomfort for your pet.

Ear mites are a parasitic infection commonly found in puppies and dogs (and cats too!), but your vet will know them as Otodectes cynotis.

They are white, spider-like parasites similar to a tick and are tiny (you'd be hard-pressed to see them with the naked eye). They breed very quickly and are highly infectious.

Photo of an ear mite, taken under a microscope.Ear mites in puppies cause much discomfort

If your Cocker Spaniel comes into close contact with an infected dog or puppy, the canine parasites will likely be transferred to your pet.

Once your pet has picked up these unwanted hitchhikers, they will migrate to his ears, where it's warm and dark.

They can live on other areas of your dog, but they prefer to live inside the dog's ear canal.

Ear mites feed on skin debris, ear wax, and natural oils.

The good news is that, unlike the tick, mites don't bite or burrow. They just clean up the junk inside your pet's ears.

The bad news is that they cause irritation which leads to your dog scratching his ears like crazy! It's this scratching that causes skin abrasions and eventual infection.

Symptoms of Ear Mites in Puppies

You notice your new puppy scratching at his ears, and he won't let you take a look at them because they're sore.

This is a classic symptom of ear mites in puppies.

If you do manage to get close enough, your puppy's ears may look red and inflamed. You may also see a dark reddish-brown wax and crumb-like clumps in his ears.

If you use a clean tissue to remove some of this gunge and look closely, you may see small moving white mites amongst the wax.

However, as I said earlier, they are almost microscopic, so don't be surprised if you don't see anything other than dark wax.  

Other symptoms of ear mites in puppies are:

  • an unpleasant smell inside your puppies ears,

  • your puppy tips his head to one side,

  • he shakes his head from side to side,

  • your puppy rubs the side of his head along the floor or against furniture,

  • there may be hair loss where your puppy has been scratching,

  • there are raw areas inside your puppy's ears,

  • your puppy may cry.

Ear mites are one of the most common causes of ear problems in dogs, and if left untreated, they can cause serious infections, ultimately leading to damaged hearing or, in worse cases, total loss of hearing.

Ear Mites in Puppies: Diagnosis and Treatment

Unfortunately, the above symptoms of ear mites are also symptoms of other ear problems in dogs, which can hamper making a correct diagnosis.

That's why you mustn't try to diagnose the problem yourself.

If you misdiagnose your puppy's condition, you may end up treating your pet for another ear problem while the mites continue on their mission!

Things will only get worse for your Cocker puppy.

Your vet must make the diagnosis so that the correct treatment can be prescribed.

Your pet's ears may be so painful that the vet feels it's necessary to sedate your puppy before he can examine and clean his ears.

Ear problems can last for months if not diagnosed correctly (as Max and I well know!).

Your vet will take a sample of wax from your dog's ear and will examine it under a microscope before making his diagnosis.

Treating Ear Mites in Dogs

Once your vet has confirmed that your dog has ear mites, he will clean your pet's ears to remove as many of the mites as possible.

He will then recommend a treatment (usually ear drops) which should be followed to the letter.

Ear mites have a life cycle of around 3 weeks. If you don't follow your vet's advice, you may be successful in killing the mites but not the eggs, which will go on to develop into adult mites.

If there are any secondary infections with bacteria or fungi, your vet will prescribe additional medication.

How long you continue to use treatment will depend on how strong the product(s) are and what your vet prescribes.

Your vet may also recommend ongoing cleaning of your dog's ears as part of this treatment.

If you have other pets, including cats, you will need to treat them all, even if the others aren't showing signs of ear mites.

Prevention of Ear Mites in Puppies

There are many things you can do to help prevent ear mites in dogs and puppies:

  • examine your pet's ears often,
  • clean his ears at least weekly,
  • keep your dog's bedding clean,
  • vacuum your carpets weekly (more if you like!).

Some common flea treatments are also effective against ear mites. Check the labelling to see if this applies to the brand you use.

Ear Mites in Puppies: Summary

Ear mites are annoying canine parasites, and if left untreated, can cause pain, distress and eventually hearing loss for your Cocker Spaniel.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you don't try to diagnose your puppy's ear problem.

If you recognize any of these symptoms in your Cocker, I recommend you take your puppy to see his vet for a professional diagnosis and treatment.

Follow your vet's advice and the above tips for preventing ear mites in puppies, and you won't go far wrong!

Photo Credits: Ear Mites in Puppies
1. Alan R Walker - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Otodectes-mite.jpg