A sad Yorkie with ear mites

Yorkie Ear Mites: Signs, Symptoms & Treatments

Ear mites are tiny arachnid parasites that can inhabit your Yorkie’s ears and live off dead skin cells and wax. We’ll tell you how to identify and treat ear mites in this guide.

If you notice your Yorkie incessantly scratching her ears and shaking her head, she may have ear mites. These little pests can inflame and infuriate an otherwise happy Yorkshire Terrier, so getting rid of them ASAP is important.

We’ll break down what ear mites look like and how to get rid of them below. 

In this guide:

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What are Yorkie ear mites?

Ear mites, also known as Otodectes cynotis, are tiny parasites smaller than the edge of a dime. They are highly contagious and can infest several different types of animals, including cats and dogs. 

They are part of the arachnid class, relating them to ticks and spiders. However, they do not penetrate your dog’s skin to feed off of the blood, as ticks do.

Ear mites love to inhabit the ear canals of Yorkies, where they can eat the ear wax, oils, and dead skin cells your dog produces. However, they can also spread to other parts of your dog’s body, such as their belly. 

What do ear mites look like in a Yorkie?

ear mites under a microscope


Ear mites begin their lives as eggs, which will be very difficult to see with the naked eye. Over about weeks, they progress through the larvae and adolescent stages, after which they can live as full adults on your dog for up to 8 weeks, reproducing the entire time.

Ear mites have eight legs and a milky white coloring, but even as adults, they may be difficult to see without a magnifying glass or otoscope. That’s why, if your Yorkie has ear mites, you’ll be more likely to discover them through the symptoms they cause.

Symptoms of Yorkie ear mites

The signs of ear mites are similar to some other Yorkie ear infections. Namely:

  • Constant head shaking
  • Excessive scratching of the ears or rubbing them against surfaces
  • A discharge of wax and crust from the ear
  • A crusty rash that resembles fine coffee grounds
  • A sore or blister on the ear, due to incessant scratching

If you notice any of these symptoms, or if your dog’s ears are too sensitive for you to get a close look, you should consult your veterinarian.

How to treat ear mites in Yorkies

If your Yorkie is diagnosed with ear mites, your veterinarian will recommend an insecticidal product to kill off the existing adult mites. There are also over-the-counter treatments, such as Eradimite, that could solve the issue. 

Ear mite treatments are not typically successful at eradicating mite eggs and larvae, so you’ll need to continue the treatment for as long as required (and as directed) to kill off new hatchlings before they have a chance to reproduce.

Treatments should usually come after a thorough ear-cleaning since your dog will likely have a buildup of gunk due to the infestation. If your pup has also formed another type of ear infection on top of the mite infestation, that may need to be addressed with a separate treatment.

With all of this attention on your Yorkie’s ears, the skin in and around them will probably be irritated. It may help to look for gentle products that have natural soothing ingredients in their ingredient list, such as aloe. If this is a concern, we recommend checking out Bodhi Dog’s Pet Ear Cleanser.

>> Read more: How to Fix Yorkie Dry Skin, Itching, Bumps & Other Conditions

Assume other pets are infected

Ear mites are extremely contagious. So, if you have multiple pets in your home, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, or ferrets, you should treat them for ear mites, too.

If your dog attends doggy daycare or regularly plays with other dogs at the park, you should keep them separate for a few weeks and check to see if any other dogs have been infected. In fact, that may be where your Yorkie got them from in the first place.

Is there a natural remedy for Yorkie ear mites?

If your Yorkie’s ear mite infestation is bad enough, you may need to resort to a powerful treatment to eradicate the issue before the scratching causes further damage to their ears. However, if finding a natural remedy is important to you, you have some options. 

Bodhi Dog’s product (see link above) comes in an alcohol-free option, and generally, the company does an excellent job at sourcing safe, natural ingredients.

Some pet owners also have luck with apple cider vinegar, which can break down gunk and make the ear inhospitable to ear mites. Combine one part vinegar with one part warm water and dip a cotton ball in the solution. Swab the inner ear thoroughly, then use a fresh cotton ball to dry the ear. Repeat two-to-three times per week.

If your dog doesn’t start to show signs of improvement after a few weeks, you may need to opt for a stronger treatment.

References

  1. The American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists. https://www.aavp.org/wiki/arthropods/arachnids/astigmata/otodectes-cynotis/A
  2. Weir, M., Ward, E. “Ear Mites in Cats and Dogs” https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/ear-mites-otodectes-in-cats-and-dogs

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