Treating Ear Mites

Our pets sometimes become infested with ear mites. This is a guide about treating ear mites.


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March 14, 2012 Flag

Ear mites are disgusting and painful. Cats and kittens get them all the time. Dogs do sometimes also.

The vets often prescribe Acarexx. It is an ear mite treatment for cats and kittens. It contains 0.01% ivermectin. Ivomec is a 1% ivermectin injectable solution which can be bought without a prescription. It is used for cattle and swine. The one percent ivermectin is available online, and at Tractor Supply in the form of Ivomec. Like Acarexx, Ivomec contains 1% ivomectin. Rescuers and wildlife rehabbers frequently use this to treat ear mites. They use ivomec 1% solution topically in the ears.


After I learned that a bottle could last for about 33 years, I figured it would be a nice thing to research. I did some reading and I am sharing this information with you. I am not a vet nor have I had any medical training. I am sharing what other rescues and rehabbers do to help their animals. (Believe me, they are not in it for the money.)

What we do with the Ivomec is make a soluton to swab the ears of kittens and cats. For kittens, the amount of Ivomec is so small that it must be diluted with mineral oil. One part 1% ivomectin or Ivomec to 3 parts mineral oil.

Mix well, shake well, and the dosage for kittens as young as 4 weeks is as follows: 1 drop per pound of kitten. Most four week old kittens are one pound in weight. Adult cats get 0.1 ml for massaging in the ears. The adult cat dosage does not have to be diluted.

In wild and domestic rescues, it is not feasible to go to the vets and pay for each and every cat, dog, or other animal that comes through the door having ear mites.. There could be hundreds of animals a year that come through their doors. This is also used to prevent heartworm, but we can discuss that later, so as not to get things mixed up.

You will need to have a diabetic syringe (minus the needle) to measure the correct amount of Ivomec. First, carefully clean off any ear wax and gunk that is built up.

Do not attempt to clean your dog's ears or check for ear mites using cotton swabs, such as Q-tips, or other pointed objects. The inside of a dog's ear is delicate, and you may damage the eardrum by inserting a cotton swab too deeply. Then massage in the ivermectin as follows:

For Cats:

I suggest trimming the very tips of the cats claws first. If not, get someone else who knows how to restrain a cat to hold him or her for you. This can be tricky.

For an adult cat, the dosage is 0.1 ml slowly squirted and massaged into the cats ear canals, undiluted. Don't do it quickly where the squirt from the syringe minus the needle makes a noise. Cats do not like sudden noises. Soft and gentle and quickly is the key.


Putting a towel over the cat's head like an umbrella is a trick I learned too, but it most likely won't get shaken out since it is so thick.

For kittens the amount is too small to measure, so it must be diluted with mineral oil.

Dilute 1 part 1% invermectin with 3 parts of mineral oil. Once the Ivomec is diluted this way then they would get 0.05 ml per pound or one drop per pound of kitten. This is to be massaged into the ear, not given orally.

Repeat in three weeks to kill any mites that were not killed the first time around.

For Dogs:

It's very important to verify with your vet that your dog has an ear mite infection before using this treatment. Ear mites are relatively uncommon in dogs and they are much more common in cats. It would be dangerous to treat for mites if the eardrum was not intact or in one piece from an infection.

Using a 1 cc syringe minus the needle, you administer .25 for each ear. Invermectin is very easily absorbed through the skin.

You may also dilute the dog's dosage in the following way.

Add 1 cc invermectin or Ivomec 1% solution to a 2 fluid ounce (60 ml) bottle. Then fill the bottle with mineral oil. Shake well before using to mix the ivermectin evenly. Apply 0.3 cc/ml to each ear and massage in. Repeat in two weeks if needed.

There are about 30 ml in 1 fluid ounce, and 10,000 mcg ivermectin in 1 cc of 1% solution, so you end up with 60 ml containing 10,000 mcg ivermectin, the same dosage as Acarexx. This will be enough to treat 100 dogs (200 ears).


Note that this dosage may not be high enough for larger dogs. Also it's unclear what acarexx is mixed with. Mineral oil is safe for use in ears, but ivermectin may not mix thoroughly with it, meaning that the dosage would not be the same throughout the mixture.

Propylene glycol could be used to mix with instead of the mineral oil. It would distribute the amount of ivermectin evenly. If propylene glycol is put in the ears of a dog that has a ruptured eardrum from an ear infection, it could cause deafness. That is why in dogs, it is better to get a vet to make sure the dog has ear mites. I have seen lots of rescues vouch for the mineral oil mixture, so I would probably trust it more than the propylen glycol. It is your call.

I hope this has given you something to think about regarding the health of your pets, and a most common problem, ear mites.

Other uses of Ivomectin include heartworm prevention, as in Hartgard and a certain type of mange, and also intestinal worms.

The dosages for intestinal worms and mange would be around thirty time the dosage for heartworm prevention. There are some dogs who are sensitive to this high a dose because of a genetic abnormality. That is why I will discuss these uses in a different article.

Blessings, and enjoy a happy and healthy life with your pets.


By Robyn Federspiel from Tri-Cities, TN

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CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
August 18, 20160 found this helpful

IS THE DOSE OF 0.1 ML per ear? It is such a small amount for both ears.

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March 18, 2009 Flag


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. boric acid
  • 2 drops tea tree oil
  • 2 drops dish detergent


Put ingredients into a glass jar and shake to mix well. Using a couple of cotton balls, dip them into the solution and place the cotton ball(s) into your pet's ear, one ear at a time. Quickly close the ear flap over the opening and using your fingers rub the ear in a circular motion. Do this for about ten seconds so the solution has a chance to penetrate the ear.

Take the cotton balls out and stand back a bit because your pet will shake their head immediately! I use another clean cotton ball to dry around the opening to the ear. It will be yucky! Do the same for the second ear.

Follow this routine once a day for a week and then once a week from then on to prevent mites from invading your pet's ears again. Works wonderfully!

A note: Boric acid is available from your pharmacist. No prescription needed, by law they have to keep it behind the counter, just ask. It runs under $3 for a container that would last forever. Share with a friend!

Source: Our vet gave us this recipe.

By Pattie from Bridgton, ME

Editor's Note: Several people have contacted us regarding the toxicity of tea tree oil. Check any home remedy with your own veterinarian before using.

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November 20, 20130 found this helpful
Top Comment

Tea Tree Oil is toxic to dogs. No joke. I learned this the hard way this past summer. I was given a recipe to help repel fleas from my dogs naturally and it called for Tea Tree. I put it on two dogs and it paralyzed their back legs. I flushed their systems out with water - making them drink a ton even if I had to fix up broth - and then bathed and bathed till it was good and off. After a few days they were fine, but I was terrified. So, no tea Tree.

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January 13, 2011 Flag

To eliminate ear mites, all it takes is a few drops of Wesson corn oil in your cat's ear. Massage it in, then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for 3 days. The oil soothes the cat's skin, smothers the mites, and accelerates healing.

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September 12, 2016 Flag

brown prescription bottle

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The darker pill bottles with the screw on top keep Ivermectin solution ready to use. We have a lot of kittens this summer looking for homes. I found that it was easier to mix up the topical formula and keep it ready for use in a dark pill bottle.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

1 found this helpful
June 14, 2012 Flag

In your home recipe for ear mites one of the ingredients is tea tree oil. Where can I buy it?

By Nadine R

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May 26, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

All over the internet, people strongly warn about dangers associated with putting any kind of essential oil in or on a cat. It wasn't mentioned here, and each person will use their own best judgement about what's best for their beloved friend(s), but thought it deserved mention.

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June 25, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

Melaleuca also known as tea tree oil is VERY toxic and deadly for cats in any form of applications! Please do not use this on your cats their liver cannot process it.

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1 found this helpful
January 15, 2016 Flag

What do I do?

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January 20, 20160 found this helpful

I have used a Q-tip dipped in apple cider vinegar to clean my dog and cat's ears before. You can try this. Otherwise see your vet and get a cream for this. You might even be able to find a cream at your local market.

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1 found this helpful
October 3, 2010 Flag

I have a Basset hound and the symptoms are: a lot of little scabs on him, itchy skin, and bad smelling ears, very smelly. Do you know the best treatment for him?

By Paul

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October 5, 20100 found this helpful

The itchy skin could be anything from food allergies to mange. Food allergies requires trying different foods until you hit on the right one. Mange, scabies etc probably require a trip to the vet. You will save yourself a lot of work if you find out what you are dealing with before you start. Good luck.

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January 10, 20110 found this helpful

Paul, this could be a very bad mite and inner ear infection. Go to Walmart or Kmart and in the animal section get a cat/dog ear cleaner. This cleans the inner ears, kills mites which can deafen your pet and takes out moisture which can cause bad infections. If you do not see results in a couple of days please take your dog to the vet or local humane society which is very reasonable and have his or her ears checked. We all know what ear infections feel like and this could be serious.

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1 found this helpful
April 17, 2013 Flag

My dog has had ear mites for a while and we have tried many remedies and in store products to get rid of them. Now she has bumps on top of her head under her skin; is it mites? If so, how is it gonna effect her?


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April 19, 20130 found this helpful


I have been a Veterinary Technician for over 20 years. Over the counter ear mite medication DOES NOT work. Please take your fur baby to the Veterinarian. Your Vet will prescribe the correct medication to rid your poor baby of ear mites. Please have this done ASAP, as there could be an underlying problem with the "bumps".... good luck

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March 11, 20150 found this helpful

I purchased drops from the vet used as instructed for 2 months then took the poor cat to another vet who sold me Revolution which also didn't work. just because you got it at the vet doesn't mean it's always perfect.

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0 found this helpful
June 9, 2008 Flag

Can I poor peroxide in my dogs ear to get rid of ear mites?

Kali from Panama City, FL

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June 3, 20090 found this helpful

Campho-Penique inserted in dogs ear with dropper will kill ear mites & help heal any sores. You can also use it externaly on sores, scabs, or any bad places on the skin. Also good for cats & human abrasions & itches. Good luck putting it in a cats ear!

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July 9, 20090 found this helpful

Ear mites are very very easy to kill, The aftermath of an infestation can be awful though. If your dog had bloody ears from scratching use peroxide to clean the bloody ears, but do not put it inside the ear canal. for inside the ear use plain mineral oil injected into the ear canal (use a needle less 3cc syringe) until the ear is full of mineral oil. close the ear flap over the ear canal and massage under the ear pushing upwards towards the opening for at least 5 minutes (this will sound squishy). Turn your dogs head over onto a paper towel to drain the mineral oil out. along with the mineral oil you will see stuff that is dark and sorta looks like coffee grounds. repeat this process Until the draining reveals no more stuff coming out with the mineral oil. Now do the other ear.

Now that the ears are cleared of the nasty stuff use an ear mite medication per directions. not finished yet though ... Ultra important to now bathe your dog with a good non expired flea and tic shampoo. Be careful not to get it in the dogs eyes, but you must lather from right above the eyes to the tip of the dogs tail. This bath is important because the ear mites travel on the head ear to ear. The dog may continue to scratch at its ears afterward. if this continues more than a week you may have another aftereffect which is a yeast infection. you can tell by smelling your dogs ears. A yeast infection has a very distinctive odor. You can either give it a pill, or ask your mom for monostat the monostat will bring near immediate relief. Good luck sweetie

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October 20, 2013 Flag

I have 2 cats that have been suffering from ear mites for quite sometime now, because the vet doesn't seem to know how to cure ear mites in a cat! So for all you that say, take the cat to the vet, I did already, twice, to 2 different doctors. Neither of them could kill the ear mites. My cats don't go outside, so there is no reason for them to have ear mites after getting them treated and paying around $200.00 each time for an office call, ear mite medicine, and then secondary infection medicine.

I feel very ripped off and then I call the vet and he wants me to bring both of my cats in before he will treat them for ear mites, even knowing that is what they have. I'm so mad that I spent all this money that I don't have to begin with only to be in the same situation months later!

Now I will have to start from square 1 again and try to get rid of them on my own. I shouldn't have to be doing this. I don't want to hurt my cats in any way by putting the wrong thing in their ears. I'm so frustrated from cleaning their ears with mineral oil, then my 1 cat cries while I'm massaging it into his ears and I feel so bad and hopeless! Any ideas? Please don't tell me to take them to another vet. How many vets does it take to get rid of ear mites? I've lost all faith in vets.

By Patricia w from Milwaukee, WI

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October 21, 20131 found this helpful

I too have cats,and they have gotten ear mites, I use a few drops of lavender essential oil, a few drops of tea tree oil in a few drops of olive oil or mineral oil and this has worked on my dogs I have 5 and my cats I have 3! My husband was born and grew up in Milwaukee. Loves it still! I mentioned this to another response, sorry! These products are available at WalMart and almost all drugstores!

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October 23, 20130 found this helpful

Our cat had ear mites, the vet said to use revolution it is a flea and tick liquid med that you use on them it also helps with a number of worms, keeps them from getting them. It seemed to help our cat you might give it a try. Hope this helps some.

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June 6, 2010 Flag

How do I get rid of dog ear mites?

By Marilyn

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June 7, 20100 found this helpful


Are you sure they are mites? Please go to your Veterinarian and have him/her take a slide and diagnose exactly what they are. If there are mites your vet has to treat them. There is not an over the counter medication to treat them. I have worked for a Vet for over 20 years. Good luck.

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Anonymous Flag
June 8, 20100 found this helpful

Take your baby to the vet! If they are ear mites it's nothing to mess with and there is no home remedy. Ear mites can eventually cause deafness, among other issues, so please take this seriously!

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0 found this helpful
May 17, 2014 Flag

I am wanting to use Ivermectin for my barn cats. I have 12 of them and I noticed they are having serious ear issues. Could you please explain a little better how to mix the solution with mineral oil? I am not understanding the 1% to so many parts. I want to mix a bottle so I can treat them on a regular basis. Can this also be used on the back of the neck for fleas?

By Vickie

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May 19, 20140 found this helpful

You must know exactly what the the ear problems are to be able to treat them correctly. All 12 may not have the same condition and may require different medications. Some of the cats and kittens may have sensitivities to Ivermectin and this can result in additional medical problems and even death.

Wikipedia Information:

Ivermectin is also used in veterinary medicine. It is sometimes administered in combination with other medications to treat a broad spectrum of animal parasites. Affected animals are particularly sensitive to the toxic effects of ivermectin.[26] Clinical evidence suggests kittens are susceptible to ivermectin toxicity.[27] A 0.01% ivermectin topical preparation for treating ear mites in cats (Acarexx) is available.

Re flea problems, you must be sure that Ivermectin is the proper treatment for fleas before using it for cat fleas. Only a vet can evaluate the cats and suggest the correct flea treatment medication.

Please take your cats to a vet for the correct diagnosis and treatment. Perhaps an examination of one of the cats will help all 12. However, all 12 may not have the same problem.

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May 26, 20150 found this helpful

You'll be using your own best judgement, of course, but I had a bottle of 1% Ivermectin. Acarexx is a solution of that in ethyl alcohol - here's their page and the package insert is a PDF right there

I had to use several different types and measurements of syringes (had these for diabetes). You have to be sure you know the meaning of volume for each syringe (See link #1 below). This one was key for me: 1 cc = 1 mL. You will want to check and double check your understanding before proceeding to each next step.

I used this calculator

http://www.phys  ty_percent.html. You enter info to 3 of the 4 fields and it calculate the fourth. From top to bottom, looking at the label of the ivermectin that you already have, you know that you enter 1 and click % in the field 'Stock concentration'. Skip the 'Volume from stock' field. 'Final concentration' (to match Acarexx) we want to put .01 and click %. 'Final solution volume' (Acarexx dosage is 0.5mL per ear for cats). You can pre-mix and store if your container has a good seal. For this example, we'll mix up 5.0mL so you enter 5 and leave it on the default mL.

Click 'calculate' and it tells us the answer for 'Volume from stock' - how much of the Stock concentration we'll need.

What you want to do next is not solved for you by this calculator -subtract the number it calculated 'Volume from stock' from the 'Final solution volume'. That's because the final solution volume is just that, the *total* volume.

Here's a working example to mix down 1% ivermectin to a dose to administer topically to cats' ears: 0.05 mL of 1% ivermectin plus 4.95 mL of grain alcohol. Swirl it together for a minute. Draw up 1 mL in a *needleless* syringe or eyedropper-- Half in one ear, Half in the other. Hold your cat's head and massage it around a bit before letting them go. With our example, there is enough for five doses.

Acarexx uses ethyl alcohol as a carrier. I've tried both mineral oil and now ethyl alcohol (use grain alcohol or vodka) and prefer the alcohol. The cats did not continue to be bothered by the sensation of something in their ears they way they were with the oil.

I've dosed them a couple of times over a couple of months and plan to begin doing it monthly during the summer months because of the side benefit of killing any small heartworms--mosquitoes carry the heartworm larvae. It's not widely known but cats can get ill from heartworms that go into their lungs. Ivermectin is known to affect ear mites and various worms including heartworms (link #2 below). BTW, it wasn't proved to me by everything I read online that ivermectin does much for fleas.


(1) http://health.p  df/Olsen_ch7.pdf

(2)  ition/roundworms

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July 9, 2009 Flag

Can an alcohol swab kill ear mites on a dog?

By harleygirl1211 from Red Bay, AL

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July 13, 20090 found this helpful

I asked my vet the same question. She said it would be very painful to use alcohol because the ear mites bite and when the alcohol comes in contact with the spot that was bitten, it will burn a lot. Try putting alcohol on a cut on your finger and you will find out what it would be like.

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July 13, 20090 found this helpful

Our vet told us years ago to use a little boric acid powder. Put a pinch or more, depending on the size of the dog, into the ear and close the flap over the ear and massage the ear for several seconds. It works beautifully, and is painless to the animal.

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January 30, 2010 Flag

How will I know if my dog has ear mites, or a yeast infection, or just very dirty waxy ears? I clean his ears with Ear Cleanse at least twice a week, but the wax build-up is still very bad.

He shakes his head all the time, but scratches his ears only a very small amount. The wax is black/brown, very sticky, and very thick. Some parts are very dry, and some parts are very oily.

By David from Mooresville, NC

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February 1, 20100 found this helpful

One of mine [a recent rescue pup] had the same problem and the Vet found that her ear was badly infected to the point that the canal was swollen shut! She was having teeth removed under anesthetic, so he was able to clean her ear out and sent her home with Mometamax ointment to be used for a month. She's 100% better and still has 2½ weeks to go on the medication. One happy pup!

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February 2, 20100 found this helpful

Please take your dog to the vet, I just went through this and my baby had two inner ear infections, you as a human knows what 1 ear ache can feel like but 2 at one time is excruciating, don't try to medicate yourself. Get to the vet right away, he or she could be in real pain plus damage to the eardrum could be getting worse. Deby

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