Dealing with Ear Mites, Sarcoptic Mites, and Demodex Mites in Ears,
Canker Ear, &
Fly Strike
Ear Margin Dermatitis

Dealing with the parasites that affect the ears of cats, dogs, and other pets.

Ear Mites and Canker Ear
We see at least 1 case of ear mites a day.  This is a very common problem in cats but we frequently see ear mites in dogs, rabbits, hedgehogs and other species.

Ear mites are microscopic little parasites that love to burrow into the tender skin inside the ear and lay their eggs.  They drive pets nuts with irritation.

They spread from pet to pet through direct contact and do not live off a warm body for long.  There are multiple subspecies of ear mites but we really don't care from a treatment stand point.

"Canker ear" is just a common name for the disease of having ear mites.  We typically reserve the term for very bad cases of ear mites where the ear canal is packed with dried wax, dead skin, and pus.  Very common in rabbits.


There are lots of pyrethrin and mineral oil based, over the counter treatments for ear mites available.  They certainly help, but like fleas, ear mites have become resistant to these weaker treatments.

Diluted Ivermectin, which is an OFF LABEL pesticide sold for parasite control in horses and cattle is very effective and inexpensive at killing ear mites.  Treatment needs to be repeated after 3 weeks and there are some rare safety issues

Acarexx is an approved ivermectin ear mite treatment available for cats.  It's designed to be 100% effective with a single dose.

Milbemite is another approved, prescription ear pesticide designed to be extremely effective with a single dose

Revolution is a topical flea control product that also controls heartworms, intestinal worms, mange, and ear mites in cats.  I love Revolution for long term parasite control.  It's intended to be used monthly for flea and heartworm control.

Advantage Multi is a great multi purpose parasite control product competing with Revolution.  It does a good job at controlling fleas, intestinal worms, heartworms, and ear mites in cats.

Sarcoptic and Demodex Mites in the Ears

Sarcoptic and Demodex mites are usually associated with causing the two different types of mange of the skin.  But sometimes we find these mange mites in the ears too.


Promeris: For dogs we can use the new flea product called Promeris which works really well on both sarcoptic and demodex mites.  But it's too potent and toxic for cats.

For cats either Revolution and Advantage Multi will usually solve the Sarcoptic mite problem.
Lym Sulfa dip infused into the ear canal is messy but seems to be safe and effective.
Unfortunately, there is no approved treatment for demodex in cats which tends to be difficult to cure.

Fly Strike

This is only an occasional problem in dogs and cats, but if your pet has this problem, they'll be miserable and painful.

Fly Strike is simply where biting flies have targeted your pet's ear flaps.  Perhaps because of a minor cut , wound, sunburn damage, or the attracting smell of an ear infection. 

Once the flies start biting the problem becomes a vicious cycle with the irritation, ooze, and dried blood from the fly bite wounds attracting more flies.  The pet then scratches the ear flap causing further irritation and bleeding.

The Solution is also fairly simple:

1.  Clean and treat the ear flaps.  Your vet will prescribe a soothing and medicated ointment or cream or suggest using a "human" product that you may already have at home.

2.  Stop the irritation and itch cycle.  This usually means using antihistamines, short term prednisone (steroid), and maybe some pain medication (but not aspirin (prevents clotting) or Tylenol (toxic to cats and not all that safe in dogs either))

3.  Treat the underlying problem of ear mites, infection, etc if present.

4.  AND GET RID OF THE FLIES.  The best way is to move your pet inside or to a different area if possible.  If not, then clean up the yard, the garbage, and the stools that attract fly populations.  If that's not easily done, such as around barn yards, then use fly repellents twice daily on the ear flaps until they are well healed.  Avon Skin So Soft Lotion or Oil works fairly well as do most of the pyrethrin based fly repellents made for horses.

If you don't know about Avon Skin So Soft, it's a brand of women's skin moisturizer that just happens to be a fair insect repellent for humans and pets.  It seems to work well diluted about 1 part Avon SSS oil to 9 parts water or any brand of water based skin lotion.  Or you can apply it full strength, but then it's a little greasy.  Or you can simply buy the Avon SSS Lotion ready to go. 

It's what I use for mosquitos when fishing or out in the field and it works well for about half a day.  It's lightly scented, so you might have to explain the perfume smell to your wife. 

At any rate, it's gentle, soothing, and effective on cat and dog ears for repelling flies and other biting insects.

On This Page:

This page will be about dealing with parasites of the ears in cats, dogs, rabbits and other pets

Other Pages About Parasite Control in Pets



Mange Mites, Scabies, Demodex, Red Mange, and Sarcoptic Mange

Intestinal Parasites, worms, cestodes, tapeworms, coccidia, giardia, and cryptosporosis


On Other Pages:

Home:Animal Pet Doctor

Cat Scratch Fever

Diseases people get from pets: Tuberculosis, Plague, and Brucellosis. Pasteurella, Encephalitis, Samonella, e-coli, and Cryptosporidium

Toxoplasmosis from Cats


Diseases people get from pets from mosquitos, fleas, ticks, and lice
malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, plague, heartworms, Rift Valley Fever, Lymes Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tick Paralysis, Monkey Pox, etc

West Nile Disease

The most common causes of skin flakiness around the ear margins are sarcoptic mange mites, seborrhea
ear margin
(a condition that occurs for no known reason, most commonly in dachshund),
vascular disorders
(cold hemaglutination, immune mediated disorders, insect bite hypersensitivity)
and hormonal disorders
(hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus & hyperadrenocorticism). 

Normally ear margin dermatitis is not a major problem for the ears themselves but the association with so many systemic problems makes it worth checking for underlying causes.

As you and your vet work through the possible causes of
the overall
condition, it is likely that you will
discover the
cause of the ear margin dermatitis.