What Causes Brown Scaly Scabs on a Dog's Ears?

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Every dog loves a good ear rub, but it's not much fun for you or him when your dog develops scabs inside his ears. Dark, scaly spots can develop inside and around a canine's ears for a variety of reasons, but this condition is usually symptomatic of ear mites (Otodectes cynotis), minuscule creatures that thrive inside the inner ears of household pets. Learn to identify and treat your dog's ear issue so you can get back to the simple joy of petting your pup.


Only a veterinarian can confirm a case of ear mites.

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Symptoms ear mites: Scabs in your dog's ears

Ear mites are the most common cause of scabs in a dog's ears. Ear mites are parasitic insects that feed on the wax and oils found in a dog's ears. While ear mites don't bite the skin, they make a dog's ears itchy. If your dog has ear mites, she may shake her head and scratch her ears excessively. The scratching can actually cause serious damage to your dog's ears.


If your dog has ear mites, you may notice an abrasion or scab at the base of her ear from excessive scratching. Your dog can also develop a blood blister on her ear from scratching or shaking her head. Bacteria can get into the open wound, resulting in an infection. In serious cases, ear mites can affect other parts of your dog's body.


Identifying a possible ear mite infestation

Dark, scaly spots usually means ear mites.
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Ear mites are highly contagious. A dog gets ear mites when he has direct contact with another infested dog. Ear mites are tiny, barely visible to the naked eye. If your dog has ear mites, you may notice dark debris in his ears resembling coffee grounds. Ear mites can also cause your dog's ears to smell foul.


Redness in or around your dog's ears is another sign that he may have an ear mite infestation. In severe infestations, you may notice pus or discharge coming from your dog's ears. If you suspect your dog has ear mites, it's important to take him to your veterinarian.


Diagnosing and treating ear mites in dogs

If left untreated, ear mites can soon lead to more serious problems, so they should be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. Take your dog to the vet to confirm a suspected diagnosis of ear mites. Only medical professionals can determine the severity of your dog's case and provide necessary treatment.


Your vet will make a diagnosis using an otoscope to look into your dog's ears or by examining discharge from your dog's ears under a microscope.

There are several medications used to treat ear mites. Some require daily application while others are single-use products. Your vet will choose a medication for your dog based on her situation and your preferences.


Preventing ear mites in dogs

Ear mites are highly contagious.
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You can prevent ear mites by keeping your dog away from other animals who are infested. If your dog gets ear mites and you have more than one pet, separate the infested dog from the rest of the pets. Your veterinarian will likely recommend treating all the pets in the home for ear mite s if one of them is infested.


Some products that protect your dog from getting fleas can also protect your dog from ear mites. You can ask your veterinarian for a prescription for such a product. Cleaning your dog's ears regularly will help you spot any ear issues he is having early. Always take your dog to your vet if you suspect he has an ear problem.