News & Advice

It might be a mites in the ear

Oct 6, 2022 | Cats, Dogs, Pet Health

Atraides Manson, Vet Nurse, Anexa Vets Raglan

As the weather warms up, your pets will be welcoming unwanted ectoparasites; fleas, ticks, mites. Ear mites! That brown sticky discharge in your pet’s ears may be harbouring some little annoying critters called Otodectes Cynotis. A common ear mite found in cats and dogs is a primary cause of otitis (inflammation in the ear). Otodectes Cynotis can also be found on the skin surface and only just visible to the naked eye as a tiny white speck moving around against a dark background. The picture provided is what the mite looks like under the microscope.

Otodectes Cynotis live their entire life on the animal and, once a fully mature adult, live up to 2 months continuously reproducing.


The life cycle of Otodectes has 5 stages;

  1. the female adult mite lays eggs in the pets ear wax,
  2. the eggs turn into larvae and feed for 3-10days,
  3. the larvae then go through 2 juvenile stages; protonymph and then deutonymph;
  4. deutonymphs are gender neutral.
  5. The adult male then mates with the deutonymph where it then becomes a pregnant female or a male mite.

The life cycle takes 3 weeks to complete, that is why veterinarians will prescribe a treatment that lasts as long as the life cycle.

Ear mites are highly contagious; if your pet has ear mites it would’ve picked them up from encountering another infected animal. Young animals or immune-compromised animals are more susceptible to ear mites; however, pets of any age can pick up mites. Luckily, Otodectes Cynotis is not contagious to humans.


Symptoms of infestation include:

  • Ear scratching
  • Head shaking
  • Dark waxy discharge
  • Hair loss resulting from self-trauma or excessive grooming
  • Red inflammation in and/or around the ear

Pets presenting these symptoms are typically diagnosed with ear mites however, it’s best to carry out diagnostic procedures to correctly identify if it is Otodectes Cynotis causing your pets ear issues.

The best treatment for ear mites is prevention. Preventative ear mite treatment such as Bravecto (lasts up to 3 months) and can be purchased over the counter. These products will also treat fleas and ticks.

If your pet hasn’t had a flea/ tick/ mite treatment in the last 1-3 months come into the clinic to purchase your pets ear mite preventative treatment.


Other Anexa resources you might find helpful:

My dog is shaking its head – does he have an ear infection?

Your pet can have seasonal allergies just like you


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