Ear Mites are my favorite ear problem.

Ear_mite Ear mites ARE my favorite ear problem.  Why?  FIrst, they are so cool to show people under the microscope.  Unlike most other microscopic things (that just look like some variation of a blob), these guys are obviously bug-like and they move.  I’ve got a little eyepiece camera that plugs into the USB port on the lab computer station and clients can watch the computer monitor in real time instead of having to squint through the microscope.  They can SEE IT!

The second reason that I like ear mites is that they are so curable.  Unlike many ear problems that are rooted in whole-body problems (like a food allergy), ear mites are pretty much in the "what you see is what you get" category.  When you see ear mites, they are probably the root cause of that ear problem.  Plus, they don’t come out of the ground or out of the sky.  You always get them by direct contact with the head of some other animal, so it’s unlikely to be some lifelong chronic situation.  By contrast, when you see a yeast infection in the ears, you know that they are virtually always secondary to something else.  Yeast are always hanging around in small numbers, but something else has let them get out of hand. Now you’ve got to find that "something else".

That being said, how is it that some pets with ear mites do not get cured?  One of the most common reasons is that the ear gets full of dead skin, ear wax, ear mite poop and debris from secondary infections.  The mites dig tunnels beneath the surface of the skin that lines the ear canal and this causes a lot of debris to form (not to mention a lot of itching, like having chiggers inside your ears; that’s why the pet shakes her head and scratches her ears).  People put medication in the ears to kill the mites, and it never gets to the mites.  It just sits on top of the debris.   

When the mites make their tunnels, they lay eggs in the tunnels, which hatch out about ten days after they are laid.  If you don’t treat for a long enough period of time, new mites hatch out and start it all over again.  I like to treat daily for ten days, and repeat a single treatment on day 20 and day 30 for late hatchers.

If you have multiple pets, they are liable to pass the mites back and forth.  You have to treat ALL the pets who are in direct contact with one another.

Many medications for ear mite treatment consist of nothing more than an insecticide in an oily base.  This is fine if there are no complicating factors. Unfortunately, if the ear is full of goop, as noted above, they don’t do much.  The ear must be cleaned with wax softeners and gentle flushing so that the medicine can actually contact the diseased skin.  You can’t clean them with a Q-tip: it just packs stuff down instead of lifting it out.   If there are secondary ear infections, those need to be treated as well.  If the ear is sore from all this, insecticide certainly does nothing to relieve that. I like Tresaderm for ear mite treatment, as it usually kills the secondary yeast and has a little cortisone to make the ear feel better.

Milbemite otic is approved for cats and will usually eliminate an ear mite infestation with a single treatment. Cleaning the ears is optional with this product.  It doesn’t seem to work well in dogs, and if you have a secondary ear infection you still need to treat that.

Revolution is a heartworm preventive that is applied topically.  It absorbs into the skin and circulates in the bloodstream overnight.  It is excreted not in the body wastes, but in the skin oils, including ear wax.  It kills fleas, flea eggs, scabies mites and ear mites.  I find it is a great preventive for those outside cats who keep getting re-infested from their low-class buddies. It’s a good follow-up for those late-hatchers, too.  I don’t find that it’s very effective as a solo treatment for a really bad case of ear mites.

Ear mites are the only ear problem to have such a sweet simplicity.

326 thoughts on “Ear Mites are my favorite ear problem.

  1. Yinna says:

    Hi there, I’ve got a cat, Sam, that has ear mites. The vet gave him one melbemite treatment, and also one dose of the heartworm medication on his back. I went home with Malacetic Otic as well as Tresaderm. I’ve been cleaning the ears twice a day, and adding one tresaderm drop to each ear afterwards. But, I forgot to refrigerate the Tresaderm, so its useless now. I was wondering if I still need use that, since it seems the mites are gone, and there is no yeast infection. The vet says I need to buy another Tresaderm, but I’d would rather not if its not really necessary. It would be great to get your opinion, I find your blog very useful. Thanks so much!

    • Lisa Heck says:

      Tractor suppy carries otc earmite drops for dogs and cats and also chewy.com has non prescription. Says kills on contact. You do not have to pay these ridiculous vet bills. I suppose you would need the diagnosis first. They can lay eggs on carpet referring earmites. I eould think the medicine would kill them on contact. My vet said put the medicine in and when they crawl out they put something on his neck and ssid do not bathe him for two weeks. I live in apartment I had the puppy for one day. I never had a dog that had earmites in my life. I am still reading about them. I have always had dogs this is the fist time in 40 years dealing with earmites.

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Lisa,
        The OTC ear mite treatments are pretty much insecticides in oil. So, if you have ear mites, that should work. If there are secondary infections, you won’t have such great results. Or if the ear problem is due to something besides mites, it won’t help at all. It could even aggravate an inflamed ear.

        You catch ear mites by direct contact with an infected animal. It is highly unlikely that you would acquire them from the environment.

        Ear infections can develop without any apparent reason sometimes (though there always IS a reason, often an underlying allergy).

        • Britney says:

          Hi, I have a kitten 5-6wks old, he was abandoned by mom as a stray; I went to the vet, they cleaned his ears and said he had ear mites, so I have been using the drops as directed the last two days… now his ears look like a horror show!! They are bloody and crusty, new goop—I’m so freaked out, what is happening? Is this the mites dying or is it some kind of reaction? Should I clean his ears myself or take him back to the vet and have them cleaned? Please advise, I’m getting worried!!

          • Betty says:

            I would call the vet first and get an answer that you don’t have to pay for because the medication that he gave you caused this. They should be able to tell you over the phone what to do if they don’t ask them.

          • Doc says:

            Hello, Betty,
            I agree that the treating veterinarian should be contacted, as this is far from an expected outcome. Something unusual has occurred, whether there was an undetected problem or a reaction to the medication. I don’t agree that the medication would have to be the cause.

        • Nicole Turner says:

          My kittens ears were swabbed today and they found a single ear mite that they showed me on the microscope. She was treated with a “one time treatment” with follow up in 2 weeks to ensure it worked. My other kitten was checked and had none. They did not rest her.

          Should they have treated her too? They are only indoor cats and never go outside. I have no idea how an ear mite even got inside.

          • Doc says:

            Hello, Nicole,

            How long have you had the kittens? It is possible to be infected with the mites for several weeks before we see any outward signs. More than once I have examined a new kitten, and the ears looked great, only to find ear mites on the follow-up booster visit a few weeks later.

            Ear mites are transmitted by direct contact between animals. If the kittens are all over each other, then I probably would have treated both. If they came from separate sources and don’t interact, then maybe not.

            Best wishes.

      • Jessica Montgomery says:

        Hey you guys! So I have a huge problem! I have 22 cats inside and out. We have ear mite issues that I can not get to go away. I treated them 3 weeks ago with Advantage Plus- $450. 00 for them all. I see some continuously shaking and scratching. A few are worse than others – RIGHT NOW. What can I do to help the inner ear as far as debris , maintenance, and overall helping these babies that are stricken with this awful pest? Also, my husband took on extra work for us to afford this Advantage because it is impossible to handle 22 cats numerous times a day much a few times a week. Do you believe advantage will help us in the long run after a few months? Please help me so I can help them! Thank you ALL for taking your time to listen to me… thank you!!!

        • Doc says:

          Hell, Jessica,
          I think the Advantage will definitely help. To remove debris, you can fill the ear canal with mineral oil and massage it in. They will shake out most of the junk. The oil also will help to suffocate the mites that are already hatched out.

          • Walter Sobchak says:

            I’ve been removing coffee ground gunk for 6 months to no avail. I’ve used every prescription topical ointment drop oral shot you name it. Antibiotics for infections. Even Ketaset for sedation to really clean.Every variant of ivermectin. Anti fungals also. I’m tired of hurting my cat. What gives? How does it manifest so much from day to day. I’m not spending any more vet money. I’m tapped at 4 k spent already. I’ve access to any med regardless. What will finally solve this? Thanks in advance

          • Doc says:

            Hello, Walter,
            That really doesn’t sound like ear mites. I’m wondering if you haven’t got some deep problem in the middle ear. I can certainly appreciate how frustrated you are, and it must seem futile to spend any more. That being said, if this were my cat at this point, I would be seeing a veterinary dermatology specialist. They are few and far between, but I think that’s where you need to be. We are very fortunate to have a good one only 100 miles away. There are whole states without one, and some veterinary colleges don’t have one. It would be worth the trip if you could.

      • Christina says:

        Despite the products sold at tractor supply state it’s use on cats, my vet looked at the ingredients and told me the ingredients were toxic to cats. Do not go the OTC way. The products sold on chewy etc are not effective unless using the medication as mentioned in the blog post and obtain a prescription from the vet.

  2. Doc says:

    The packaging for Tresaderm says to store in a refrigerator at 36 to 46 degrees fahrenheit. HOWEVER, if you call Merial (the manufacturer), they will tell you that normal room temperature is okay. If it gets really hot (up above 80 very much), it does lose potency and quit working. They always ship it on ice. If you have kept it out of direct sunlight and in a room temperature at 78 or less, it’s probably just fine.

    I’d rather spend the money on having your doctor recheck the ears with an otoscope and see if they are okay, rather than just buying another bottle of Tresaderm.

    Thanks for reading and writing.

    • Tom Dipaolo says:

      We took in a feral cat recently. The vet said she had wall to wall ear mites and gave us revolution. Will this be enough?

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Tom,

        I have had mixed experience with that. When the Revolution is applied to the skin (be sure to not let it wick up into the hair instead), it absorbs into the skin. It circulates in the bloodstream overnight, and then is excreted in the skin oils, including ear wax. It definitely is toxic to the mites.

        I have had great results using it as follow-up to other treatments and as a preventive for outside cats. My results on treating active infections have not been 100%. Sometimes I have to clean the debris from the ears and treat topically as well. This is more the case when there is also a secondary yeast infection, which is fairly common.

        The Revolution may do great for you. If you feel like you are still having problems in a couple of weeks, then I’d get a recheck exam.

    • Ally says:

      My cat currently has ear mites. It was so much that the doctor prescribed a medication before she could clean out his ears. I have two days before the appointment and my cat has been having a hard time. My cat has a lot of buildup around his ear and it looks so painful and uncomfortable, is there a was to clean the exterior of his ear with no discomfort?
      Thanks for writing such an informative blog!

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Ally,
        I can’t tell exactly what you need to do without seeing the cat. It would be safe to apply some mineral oil to the outside to soften things up.

    • Judi Brooks says:

      I applied a lot of Vaseline into my dog’s ear because I believe she had ear mites thinking it would suffocate them. How do I get that out?

    • Christy says:

      The shelter vet treated my foster cats for ear mites with one dose of ivermectin. Should that be followed up with a tresaderm protocol that you talked about.? What would be the protocol to follow the initial Ivermectin treatment? Also, I had my indoor feral cats sedated and treated with Acer e X, and they are each quarantined in their own cage for now. What is my best next course of action for them, since they will remain indoors with my tame cats.? Thank you for your excellent knowledge.

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Christy,

        The ivermectin is a great start, but probably won’t stay in the ears long enough to keep killing the new hatchlings over the next 10 days. The Tresaderm would be a great follow-up, as it will help relieve the itching and treat any secondary skin infections.

        You could also repeat Ivermectin weekly, twice. You could also apply Revolution as a follow-up.

        • Joni lance says:

          Is the Ivermectin a cream or spray for a cats itchy ears? I’m putting Trasaderm in his ears, as he has polyps which can’t be removed. He wears a cone, but somehow he got his paw, pushed the cone down……and scratched his ear…so itchy……and the ear bled badly.
          I don’t know what to make him more comfortable with less itch..it could be mites too?. Can I use something like Ivermectin too? I don’t know what to do.

          • Doc says:

            Hello, Joni,
            I had some bugs in my comments, so just now seeing this. The Tresaderm kills ear mites, if they were there. It is also anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and has cortisone for the pain and inflammation. I don’t believe that ivermectin would offer any additional benefit (though it does kill mites).

            We are very limited in our choices for pain control in cats. Buprenorphine is great, but expensive. Onsior is only approved for 3 days. Metacam is no longer approved in cats in the USA (though it is in some other countries). I know that some cat specialists do still use it. Cosequin for cats can be sprinkled on the food and has some anti-inflammatory properties. If there is a lot of inflammation, oral prednisolone might help.

        • Deepali sharma says:

          PLEASE HELP


          • Doc says:

            Hello, Deepali,

            If you have only been treating the ears, you may need to do a whole-body treatment, like Revolution or Advantage Multi. It is also important to treat any animals that she is having direct contact with. While it is unlikely for any mites to survive in the environment, bedding can be put in the clothes dryer on high heat for 30 minutes to inactivate any insects there.

        • John Tacon says:

          Hello Dr Mobley. Here in the UK, Tresaderm is not registered. So my vet cannot prescribed it for my dog’s persistent ear mite. Canural (2 x 21 days) has worked in the past – or at least it knocked it back. But a deep, 18 month duration colony is providing hard to reach – as you alone understand. After retrying Canural, my vet has prescribed Stronghold (i.e. Revolution). But from your blog I can see this is unlikely to kill off an entrenched colony. So when this fails, I’m back to Canural … for life! That said, I can order Ivomec 1% injectable (for sheep) OTC. One US dog owner says he drips Ivomec on bread and feeds it to his bitbulls when they have an outbreak of ear mite. Until I find a way to access Treasaderm, can I try Ivomec on bread or dripped into my 12 yr olds ears once a month. I can still use Canural to deal with secondary infections that result from ear mite tunneling. Please help!

          • Doc says:

            Hello, John,
            I looked at the ingredients of Canaural, and see that it is recommended for ear mite treatment. In Tresaderm it is the thiabendazole that is toxic to the mites (also an anti-fungal). I just don’t have experience with the Canaural product.

            Generally speaking, ear mites are not difficult to eliminate. This makes me wonder if your dog is in a situation to become re-infested by repeated contact with infected animals. The selamectin (Stronghold, Revolution) usually prevents that in an animal that has healthy ear.

            The other thing I am wondering is whether this is actually persistent ear mites. Are ear swabs being examined microscopically to see what is living in that ear canal?

            Most dogs with recurring ear infections (versus mites) have allergies as the underlying cause.

            Also, treatment of ear infections without thorough cleaning first is often unsuccessful. Putting medicine on top of crud is not very helpful.

            If this is in fact ear mite infestation without secondary infections (not actually an infection, rather than mites), then it would be important to clean the ears thoroughly. If I were going to use ivermectin, I would use it directly into the ear canal, a few drops daily for 10 days, and repeat twice at 10-day intervals.

            For systemic use, I would add an isoxazoline oral tick & flea product. In the US we have Credelio, Nexgard, Simparica, Bravecto.

            Another whole-body treatment that would be very safe would be lime-sulfur dip, trying to pick up any mites that are living outside the ear canal (and they do occasionally).

            If your dog is repeatedly getting reinfected by contacting infected animals (any other pets in the home?), then stop that contact.

          • John Tacon says:

            Thanks Dr Mobley for the advice on treating ear mites in the UK where Tresaderm is not yet available. No, my vets (three) have not positively identified ear mite. In the UK, vets are trained to ‘spot’ them with their eyes! But when hit by an outbreak, my dog exhibits manic head shaking, upside-down head rubbing, paw-in-ear scratching and then the soft skin of his ear canals hardens and produces dried ‘coffee’ grounds. UK vets have tried Bravecto and now Revolution – but neither work. Mercifully, Canural stops all symptoms within 4-5 days – even though it contains no insecticide! One vet said he thinks the mite simply drown in its anti-biotic oil! After an excessively oily 21-30 day course, Mr Lumlei gets a symptom-free month. Then it kicks off again. You say ‘generally speaking’ ear mites are easy to kill. But you don’t mention what you would do without access to Tresaderm – which seems to have the unique ability to kill ear mite EGGS in deeply embedded colonies. I will happily pre-pay for an online consultation and a Tresaderm prescription posted to the UK, if you offer such support. In the meantime, Lumlei has got through his first 10-day session of daily Ivomec drops into the ear canal – after first trying a vet-prescribed, pour-on course of Revolution – which showed no effect after one week. But Ivomec is helping. Please advise if I need to repeat the Ivomec drops for two more, back-to-back 10-day sessions. Or do I stop for 10 days and then repeat drops for 10-days, for two sessions – i.e. 30 days of drops over 50 days in total?

          • Doc says:

            Hello, John,
            When I first got out in practice, I used a product called Mitox, which was just insecticide, oil and neomycin. Worked every time. The Tresaderm has some steroid for the irritation as well as antifungal and antibacterial. I don’t much think it kills the eggs, which is why I treat daily for 10 days (eggs are supposed to hatch within 10 days) and do a follow-up single treatment on day 20 and day 30 in case of “late hatchers”.

            With the Bravecto and Revolution, you should be free of mites outside the ear canal, at least, so no reservoir for self-reinfection.

            The parasitologists tell me that just plain mineral oil will suffocate the mites if used daily.

            When I have a patient with dirty ears, I always start with a microscopic examination of the debris. Ear junk looks like ear junk. I need to know whether it is mites or yeast or bacteria or what.

            If the ivermectin is helping, I wouldn’t have any problem with just going a full 30 days.

            I don’t think that a trans-Atlantic shipment of Tresaderm is really needed.

          • John Tacon says:

            Dear Dr Mobley. Thanks to your help, our otherwise super healthy (12 yr old, 35-pound terrier cross) had a month-long, ear mite symptom-free period after a month of daily ivermectin ear drops and two courses of Revolution (Stronghold in UK) one month apart. Since stopping the Revolution 6 weeks ago, he’s had a sudden relapse with hardening of the ear canal skill and coffee ground debris plus the incessant ear scratching and head shaking. We don’t think he’s getting reinfected by other animals (and none of his friends suffer ear mites). But we see evidence (incessant licking and rubbing) that the ear mite do migrate to warm damp spots around the eye and mouth and anus following ear drop treatment. Many years ago, my neighbour had to use the lime-sulphur dip treatment on her mature terrier. Evidently, in some rare cases, mature dogs do suffer persistent ear mites that are NOT easy to eradicate. From 35 years of dog ownership, it’s also clear to us that the vast majority of mature dogs are naturally resistant to ear mite. I suspect some mature dogs – especially some of those with patches of white fur and pink skin – may not be resistant (as with puppies). My dog is one such case. As we hear the multiple-day, lime-sulphur treatment is not pleasant for the owner or dog (and not possible to apply around the eye or mouth) we’d like to avoid dipping if possible. But other than monthly applications of Revolution – which you say only works as a follow-on to Treasaderm – what else is available in your armoury? In the interest of science, would you be willing to give up access to Treasaderm for one year and see if your success rate changes? Reading this (wonderful) blog, I wonder what per cent of your success is based on access to Treasaderm. What do you feel?  I also wonder what makes Trasaderm so effective. You suggest its unique mix of ingredients. I agree. I also suggested its unique ability to kill mites AND mite eggs – as reported by Dr Karen Burgess at www.healthypawsanimalhospital.com who writes – Tresaderm is a prescription topical that DOES KILL EGGS and only requires twice daily treatment for two weeks. So my wife and are still seeking a way to access Treasaderm to treat our otherwise super healthy, furry child. 

          • Doc says:

            Hello, John,
            Your experience is certainly beyond the pale. Parasitologists have told me that one can simply keep treating the ear canal with mineral oil daily for one month and eventually suffocate all the mites and their offspring. I have kind of lost track of the whole thread here. I can’t remember if you have administered one of the isoxazoline compounds (US trademarks are Bravecto, Nexgard, Simparica, Credelio). These (especially Credelio) have good effectiveness against mange mites in the skin at large (though labeled for ticks and fleas). It would certainly not be a problem to use that along with your other meds. It is a systemic drug that apparently is toxic to the arthropods. I have cleared puppies with demodectic mange using a single dose.

          • John Tacon says:

            Thank you for the added feedback, Doctor. I think Revolution had been dealing with ear mite escapees. We experienced a breakout – on the back of one ear and under his chin – when we had stopped Revolution after two courses. So he’s back on Revolution and ivermectin eardrops. The head shaking and scratching have stopped, and the inner ear skin is becoming soft and pink again. If we have a relapse when using Revolution, we’ll try Credelio in the absence of Tresaderm – your weapon of choice. Best regards John

  3. Julie LaPine says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful I found this site to be – It reminds me of “All Creatures Great and Small” and having access to someone that just “tells it like it is.”

    • Laura Clevenger says:

      I just read your thoughts and experienced about ear mites in cats. And I only wish you were treating my cat. It’s very aggrevating going to the vet in New York right now due to covid-19 Becuz you have wait outside while your cat goes inside the vet to see the vet. So it’s like ok i hope the nurse tells the vet everything I said and I’d rather be in there to ask questions along the way. So long story short my cat went to vet they treated him for ear mites cleaned his ears out and gave him revolution which I plan on doing monthly treatments of. For about 7 days he started itching less then not at all. Now day 9 I notice him starting to itch again now he’s not itching like CRAZY like he was before but he es doing it enough to where I’m noticing it again and WORRYING. NOW if you can’t tell by reading this I have no problem talking someone’s ear off lol. And I am very outspoken but when the nurse brought my cat back to my car after being treated for earmites I felt like rushed to leave bad they were past clinic hours and ready to go home and I felt uncomfortable needless to say I didntvadkbanh questions and was BASICLY told he has ear mites we cleaned his ears and gave him revolution have a nice day but also at home I did notice the door where the revolution was put there was some in his fur but I’m assuming that’s normal but how do we know if he got enough in his skin. And he’s starting to itch again is this normal?

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Laura,

        Some of the Revolution will wick back up in the hair, even if it is properly applied to the skin underneath the hair.

        It will then be excreted in the skin oils, including the ear wax. I sometimes have to treat topically, as well, at least at first.

        It’s also possible that you have some secondary yeast infection, which would require some topical treatment, like Tresaderm, into the ears.

        You might be having some increased itching as new mites hatch out.

        • Tana Wells says:

          Hi doc, excellent article,my question is I’m a pet lover and have multiple cats,I train them to play fetch and all kinds of things my question is I have one that got pregnant before I was able to take them all an get fixed,they all have ear mites,I’ve done coconut oil,even some acv but I see on most treatments it says not to use on pregnant cats,I can’t not treat her or it’s a waste of time and $ I do not have, as for the revolution I already have my go to flea meds after losing some of my baby’s due to products over the yrs and sure can’t afford to do all these guys at the price of that,any help on this would be great,I’m already going to have a bundle going into fixing them and I just spent over 50$ on flea meds so I was prepared,,also why can these not be used on pregnant cats?

          • Doc says:

            Hello, Tana,

            Sometimes it isn’t that they cannot be used on pregnant cats, it is that the company couldn’t see enough return on the investment to test the product on pregnant animals. It is like going the entire approval process an additional time (very expensive) for a very limited return, so they just don’t bother. There are certainly times when the hazard is real. Mom’s blood supply nourishes the babies, and they are very small. What is non-toxic for her may be too much for the babies.

            You can put mineral oil in the cat’s ears daily for 20 days and that will probably eliminate the mite infestation. It is not toxic at all. Just a lot of trouble and bit messy.

  4. kerry says:

    i have just used my third dose of revolution on my cat obviously at four week intervals and have been cleaning her ears and using and using drops for ear mites that i bought from the pet shop and my cat still has ear mites any ideas how i can get rid of them?

    • Donna Kraklio says:

      My cat have been checked and have earmites. How do I get revolution ? I can’t catch them for 2nd doses of ear drops. They know. How do I get this topical product? It kills existing mites as well as preventing new, correct?

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Donna,
        I have had better luck with Revolution as a follow-up to treatment, but it can resolve situations on its own sometimes. Milbemite otic is an ear-drop treatment that is a one-time administration. You put a little tube of liquid in each ear. You don’t even have to clean the ears first (though if they were really clogged with junk, I would clean them first). Both Milbemite Otic and Revolution are prescription medications, so you would have to go through yoru veterinarian.

  5. Doc says:

    Hello, Kerry,

    It is possible to get re-infested if exposed (by direct physical, head-to-head contact) to other cats (or dogs) who are carrying the parasite. Revolution usually prevents this re-exposure, however.

    Since Revolution is excreted in all the skin oils (including the ear wax), it should also deal with the problem of ear mites residing on the skin outside the ear (temporarily) or on the tail tip (since cats can sleep curled up with tail near ears).

    In years past, we would sometimes have to dip the cat in lime-sulfur dip to deal with the mites that were outside the ear, but I haven’t done that in a long time.

    I am wondering if your cat’s ear problems are truly a persistent ear mite infestation. Has your veterinarian actually continued to demonstrate the presence of mites with a microscopic examination of the ear swab?

    If not, it is possible that there is some other problem. Yeast infections can develop, especially secondary to a bad mite infestation. This is why I like to use Tresaderm drops after cleansing the ears of debris. The cortisone in it relieves the irritation, and the thiabendazole generally controls the secondary yeast infection, as well as killing mites.

    If it has been a while since the ears were examined with an otoscope, this should be repeated. There may be stubborn debris deep in the ear canal that will not be removed by simple flushing.

    You cannot clean the deeper parts of the canal with a cotton swab (“Q-tip”). You just pack things down and make it worse.

    The fact that you mention “pet shop ear mite meds” makes me think that the ears have not been examined by your veterinarian recently. That’s what needs to happen.

    Good luck.

  6. Nancy says:

    I am really glad to find your site. I treated all three of my cats four times each with Revolution and it did not cure their ear mites. We are now trying Tresaderm, I am hoping that will work better.

  7. Melody says:

    I found your blog when I was searching for information about aural hematomas. My Scottish Terrier had ear mites when we first got him as a puppy; he is 8 years old now. I never knew about the mites digging tunnels below the surface of the skin. Do you think there could be a connection between the tunnels of the ear mites and him getting the hematoma? This is the second time he has had it, but it is on the other ear. Thanks for all of the helpful information!

  8. Doc says:

    Dogs with ear mites may shake or scratch their ears hard enough to produce a hematoma. However, the mites do their burrowing deep in the ear canals, not on the flap (pinna). Therefore, they would not directly cause the hematoma.

  9. pauline dodd says:

    today i carried my calico cat to the vet for ear mites ..this is the second time in 2 months .. he gave transaderm to use for 10 days .. i clean my cats ears every ni8ght .. i do not like my pets to be unhealthy love your site ..keep up the good work ..pauline dodd

  10. Doc says:

    Hello, Pauline,

    Tresaderm usually works well for my patients. Be sure to put the drops into the ear as deeply as you can, and massage the ear before you let go, so that the cat doesn’t shake out the medicine.

    It’s a good idea to do a couple of follow-up treatments, too. One dose on day 20 and one one day 30.

    If you keep having his problem, you might ask your veterinarian about Revolution, as it will usually prevent re-infection.

  11. Jennifer says:

    I took my two male cats in to get nuetered and when I went to pick them up the vet told me they had ear mites. I have three other cats at home so I am sure this is going to get expensive! How long do I need to treat them to be sure that this doesn’t come back? Would using a combination of the tresaderm drops and the revolution be my best bet? Only one of the cats seems to have irritation in his ear and I am pretty sure he is the one that brought them into the house. The rest of the cats don’t really show any symptoms of having ear mites but I was told I needed to treat them anyways.

  12. Doc says:

    Hello, Jennifer,

    If you don’t treat all the cats, they will almost certainly just keep passing the mites back and forth.

    The good news is that the mites can’t live off the animal for any significant length of time. Therefore, you don’t have to treat your home, they way you would for a flea infestation.

    Revolution is a pretty good preventive for ear mites, but I have not had a lot of luck treating clinical cases with it.

    Milbemite otic is a one-dose treatment that is effective in many cats.

    I have had the best luck by removing all the crust and waxy debris from the ear, then treating once daily with Tresaderm for 10 days. This clears up secondary yeast infections, and the cortisone in it makes the cat feel better. The ten days is to catch newly hatching mites.

    If I am also using Revolution at this time, then I don’t usually need any more follow-up. If not, I like to treat again on day 20 and day 30 to catch any late hatching mites.

    Good luck.

  13. Jill says:

    hi. Can you get tresaderm over the counter? I was given ivermectin but my foster group and told to treat once and then repeat in 3 weeks. I was told 2.5 cc’s per ear… since they are kittens. 1 of them has a hematoma on the outside and I’m guessing it is from scratching? It is raw and bleeding too. my other 2 cats showed no signs. but I only have enough ivermectin for the 2 little ones. I have another medicine that I fought over the counter that contains pyrethrin as the active ingredient. When I cleaned their ears I put the qtips in the canal and probably made it worse since I had not read your blog first. I remember when my oldest cat had it a couple of years ago, and I used the pyrethrin, and you said every other day for a month but in the end, I had to buy a different product and I don’t remember what it was called. I may have to use the treatment on the other animals as a preventative. But pyrethrin requires every other day use until the problem is gone, and the cats are uncooperative. where can I purchase the tresaderm, and can I use neosporin for the hematoma on the outside of the ear? thank you!

  14. Maggie McLaughlin says:

    How helpful is Cerumite 3X for earmites and/or infection? My vet says use it 4 days straight, then a week off, then repeat this process for 4 weeks. What do you think?

  15. Doc says:

    Hello, Maggie,

    The product and schedule should be effective for ear mites. Different veterinarians prefer different schedules for treatment. The idea is to kill the new mites that are hatching out later from the eggs they have laid in their tunnels.

    If the pet has a yeast or bacterial infection, I would not expect the product to be helpful. It contains insecticides only. There is nothing for inflammation or to kill germs.

    Animals with ear problems should have the ears examined by a veterinarian using an otoscope to look deep within the canal. A swab is usually taken for microscopic examination of the debris to determine the cause of the problem.

    Many ear problems will require cleaning of the ear by flushing to remove the debris. In painful or uncooperative animals, than can require sedation or even general anesthesia.

    The veterinarian who is seeing your pet is the person who is best equipped to advise you. I can only give general information without seeing your pet.

    • jodyf bywaters says:

      My dog has severe ear mites, he is 20 years old and me just trying to look in his ears he starts to panic and sometimes will go hide for some reason he won’t even let anybody pick him up not even me me being his owner more or less try to do anything else to him and he does try to bite sometimes if you touch his ear in the wrong spot I have gotten medicine for him for it but he won’t let me even get close and I dont really have the money to take him to the vet what can I do? Desperate

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Jody, I’m sorry to be so late replying, but we had a revamp of our website and the comments were hidden until today. Ear mites are only acquired by direct physical contact with an infested animal. It sounds like he is more likely to have a painful ear infection. I can’t really recommend any kind of home remedy. You really need to know what is going on inside the ear. Is it swollen? Are there bacteria? Are there yeast? Is there a tumor?
        Many times the ear is so painful that we have to sedate the patient to get a good exam. With ear infections, you have to thoroughly clean the ear to remove debris, and then use the correct medication to treat. Often you have to give other medications for swelling in the ear and to relieve pain.

        • Davina R Russom says:

          Hi Dr. My son recently found a kitten in a tree and I took her to my local Veterinarian and she’s now being treated for ear mites and severe infections in both ears. I’ve kept her in my guest bedroom since I have 3 adult inside cats and thank goodness they hadn’t become friends yet or I’d be taking more to the Veterinarian. So my question is after I get this kitten well do I need to treat the bedroom as if it were like lice

          • Doc says:

            Hello, Davina,

            You don’t need to treat the bedroom. The mites cannot live off the animal for more than a day or two.

        • Tana says:

          I see that’s totally understandable but as I said I was trying the oils but would like to purchase a ear mite medicine so I can help them and not have to do this so often and so on,,so is there any you’d recommend that wouldn’t be as toxic or that I should not use I guess is more my question,,and I can’t thank you enough for replying to my question,,I’m not holding any one responsible for what action I take just asking what maybe you’d say to definitely stay away from,I have 6 mom 7dad and 5 young ones now and now mom again,I don’t even want to talk about that,I was lining it up for all to get fixed but we’ll,what a mess…

          • Doc says:

            Hello, Tana,
            That’s really the only recommendation I can give for a patient I haven’t seen. I know it’s troublesome, but mineral oil costs about nothing and is completely safe in the ear unless you don’t have an eardrum (which would be very uncommon with ear mite problems). It’s non-toxic orally, as well.

          • Tana Wells says:

            Ok thanks, I’ve done the oils I’ve got 7,mom,dad,5youngsters and mom again,so I guess I take a shot and hope it’s don’t hurt the mother,,I’m not worried about $for ear mites it’s the revolution for 7,I already have the flea meds so thank you and I’ll see if I’m able to research what harms them that’s in it and the effects of I ever get time,I néed to finish placing my order today and these poor babies need something I can’t even imagine,have a góod day,thanks anyway..

        • Helen says:

          I’ve read all of the comments and have a few questions.
          What is the best consistent method to control ear mites? Is there a schedule to
          My cat can go in/out at will and seems to have an ongoing issue with ear mites. I do
          use Revolution Plus. He has been to the vet on a regular basis, but we continue to
          have an issue. Our dog is the cats best friend and licks the cat’s ear. Is this a bad
          thing? The cat seems to enjoy it. smile…

          • Doc says:

            Hello, Helen,
            I am very surprised that regular use of Revolution Plus is not preventing reinfestation with ear mites. I have had very good luck with using Revolution in the past. If there is an active infection, I do prefer to do an initial thorough cleaning and exam of the ear, with topical treatment, either Milbemite Otic, or Tresaderm for 10 days (Tresaderm is better if there is a secondary yeast infection or a lot of inflammation).

            Are you using the Revolution every month?

            And I don’t think the dog’s licking is much of an issue for good or ill.

  16. Candice says:

    Hello. I have 5 cats and the last one a kitten got November 13. 3 days ago I noticed the kitten has ear mites. I have been cleaning her ears out with vegetable oil and then tresaderm 2x a day. The tresaderm was a left over from my dog who had a yeast infection 6 Months ago. We have a vet appointment in 2 days for her second set of shots and I have already spoke with the vet and she is giving me revolution. My question is: how many months should I treat all 5 cats with tresaderm. All cats range in weight from 3-16 lbs and that would be several different doses there. I already treat my dig monthly with her flea/tick and heartwarming medication and my other 4 cats even high have been exposed to kitten since day 1 knock on wood please have no ear mites but I still want to treat them. How many months should I treat them all? 5 cats ranging in weight can get very expensive and I’m all about treating my animals with what’s right. It’s just that I’ve had these cats for 1-3 years and have never had a case if ear mites. Thanks.

    • Dianne Klewer says:

      I can not treat feral cats for ear mites because they can not be caught! There are about 20 and lots getting bad ears. Any oral medicines?

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Dianne,
        I couldn’t think of a workable solution here, so I searched Veterinary Information Network. All the treatment suggestions I found required handling the cats at least once (topical Revolution or Milbemite Otic in the ears). The problem with oral stuff is that even if it worked (and they don’t think it would), you’d have to medicate each cat individually. You couldn’t just put a pile of cat-food laced with drugs out there for them to graze.

  17. Doc says:

    Hello, Candice,

    In my experience, Revolution is really good as a preventive, but I haven’t been as successful using it to clear an active infection.

    I do think it is very good as a follow-up,just in case you have some late hatchers. The mites do lay eggs in their tunnels. Ordinarily these hatch within 10 days. Sometimes they hatch later, and the Revolution should kill those larvae when they emerge.

    I would probably use mineral oil instead of vegetable oil to loosen the debris in the ear.

    Also, after several days, I would just use the Tresaderm. I don’t think that the oil will be helping anymore at that point.

    Ask your veterinarian what she thinks, but if the kitten is cleared, I would think that two months of Revolution would be plenty to “mop up” any small exposures.

    If this were a flea infestation, I would go much longer, as fleas infest the environment. Ear mites do not infest the environment. They live only on the animals.

    Treating all the animals with Revolution for two months should be more than enough.

    Your veterinarian is more familiar with your pets and your situation. She is in the best position to advise you. I can only give general information.

  18. Amanda W. says:

    My cat has been seen by a vet and has mites. We are cleaning his ears with an ear cleaner prescribed to us and using Tresaderm. The vet told us to put the ear cleaner on q-tips and clean out the ear. You are saying not to use q-tips because it packs things down and makes it worse. What do you suggest we use instead to clean his ears before putting the medicine in?

  19. Doc says:

    Hello, Amanda,

    You can use the Q-tips to lift out debris that you can see. You do have to be careful not to push stuff down.

    Your veterinarian has prescribed an ear cleanser. I am assuming that this is a liquid. You would put a pretty good squirt of stuff in the ear and massage it to work it down into the canal and loosen the debris.

    The cat will then shake its head, and junk will come out where you can see it. Use the Q-tips to remove it.

    Usually you get most of the debris out in just a few cleanings, and can then continue with the Tresadrerm as prescribed.

    I think that your veterinarian has given you a good program, but there wasn’t a full communication of what he/she intended for you to do.

    When something doesn’t seem right to you, you should always ask questions. So many times we think we have explained things very thoroughly, but the the other person doesn’t have our same point of view. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t smart, they just aren’t seeing things from the same perspective.

    Don’t be afraid to call your veterinarian and ask questions. He/she wants to help.

  20. Rhonda says:

    I have 4 Yorkies !! I used tresaderm & my vet put something on their backs for heart worm , ear mites & all types of worm about 3 weeks ago. I used tresaderm on them all for 3 days like my vet told me to . She told me to put more in their ears after 2 weeks , I didn’t. Max has ear mites again , poor baby shakes bad . I didn’t refrigerate the tresaderm , will it still work on them ? I just called my vet for new medicine !! Ewwww I cean their ears & get a lot of brown stuff out , is that ear mite poop ? I feel like such a bad mom !!

  21. Doc says:

    Hello, Rhonda,

    The brown junk is ear wax, dead skin, dead mites, and so forth.

    The Tresaderm is okay out of the refrigerator for a few days, but not for weeks.

    I have best results if I clean the ears thoroughly first. How this is done depends on the amount an nature of the debris. Sometimes it is as simple as filling the ears with some mineral oil and massaging it deep, then letting the dog shake out the stuff. Sometimes it requires more sophisticated cleaning agents and flushing, and even suctioning out the ears.

    The ears need to be pretty clean, or the medicine can’t get to the skin and the mites and their tunnels.

    Once the ears are clean, I like to use the Tresadrem once daily for 10 days. This should kill the newly hatched mites as they come out, relieve the inflammation in the ear canal, and clear up any secondary yeast infection (very common with mites).

    Then I do a single treatment on day 20 and another on day 30 to catch late-hatching mites.

    If Revolution or AdvantageMulti have been applied, that will really help with follow-up, but not so great for initial treatment.

  22. Nuria says:

    One more thing I’ve noticed is that after I applied Revolution, my cats have stop scratching their ears and shaking heads, except when I applied the cleaning solution, but I guess that’s because they want to take off the liquid inside.

  23. Nuria says:

    Hi, my name is Nuria.
    Looks like my first message disappeared from the web!
    Well, my question is: I have two cats infested with ear mites. One was infested more than one month ago and started being treated one month ago. The little one was infested by the first one and start being treated at the same time. I went first to the vet and he made the diagnose for ear mites then gave me Oridermyl to put in my cat’s ears for one week. After one week, it didn’t get better, and as I read the instructions and searched on line I realised that the medicine should be applied for 21 days, so I did. After that time, still didn’t get better, so I search on line again for better medicines. I live in China, and vets are not particularly reliable here, so I decided to try myself. The only recommended medicine I could find here is Revolution (no tresaderm or milbemite anywhere) so I bought it. I applied it to them one week ago, and it seems like now they don’t shake heads or scratch their ears anymore, but still they have a lot of dirt coming out from their ears. At the beginning, big, round and dry grounds, now just wet flat pieces, bigger and smaller, and what appears to be dead mites, together with a lot of brown wax. I clean every day and everyday seems to be the same amount of dirt there was the day before. Is this normal? How long is going to take to eliminate the dirt from their ears? Seems to be a bit better than before, and less painful for them, but I’m still afraid there is something wrong and that’s why it doesn’t really get clean. Are the mites really dead or not? It is possible all that dirt was accumulating there for so long time and just need to get it out or it is new dirt? Because it’s really a lot! Should I apply a second dose of Revolution after one month of after 21 days, to avoid eggs for opening? If the second dose cannot get rid of the mites, what can I do? I wish I could find a good vet and the proper medicines here, but I’m afraid it’s going to be difficult 🙁
    Thank you!

  24. Doc says:

    Hello, Nuria,

    To assist in clearing the debris from the era canals, I would instill a small amount (1/2 ml to 1.0 ml) of mineral oil in each ear canal. Massage this thoroughly for 5 to 10 seconds and let the cat shake out the debris on his own.

    I would do this daily for several days, at which time, the amount of debris present should be minimal.

    I would repeat the Revolution at 2-week intervals. The Revolution is absorbed into the skin, circulates in the bloodstream (which is when it kills baby heartworms and does the deworming). Then it is excreted from the body in the skin oils, including the ear wax.

    Removing the excess debris from the ear will reduce the amount of work the Revolution has to do. It would not achieve any concentration in all the wax and crust, only in the newly produced wax at the skin surface.

  25. Nuria says:

    Thank you very much!
    That is the method I was using to clean them, as I read in previous post that should be done like this and it really works! I’ll try applying Revolution at two week time after the first dose and see what happens. I hope it will work!

  26. Chelsey says:

    I recently got a kitten and learned the next day when I took her to the vet that she had ear mites. The vet cleaned her ears in the office and gave her the first treatment of tresaderm. I asked her if I would need to clean the ears while giving my kitten the medication and she said I shouldn’t have too. Should I be?
    She said to give the tresaderm twice daily (every 12 hrs) for 7 days then once daily for 14 days. This is the last day of the first seven days and my kitten is still scratching. I also have another 5 year old cat that I have been treating because she has been in contact with the kitten. I have noticed that she is scratching her ears as well. Is this normal?
    Also, tonight when I gave the kitten the tresaderm, there was red on the tip of the bottle when taking it out of her ear, but when I looked in her ear I didn’t see any noticible bleeding; however, here was dark brown kind of dark red specks. Would this be dried blood? Is this normal? Her ears don’t appear to be red like he medication is irritating them. How long does it take for he meds to work?
    Sorry for all the questions, I just worry because you just never know!
    Thank you!

  27. Doc says:

    Hello, Chelsey,

    Tresaderm is my preferred product for treating ear mites. I would not expect it to cause irritation. It contains some cortisone, so should actually help calm down any irritation.

    Ordinarily, if the ears are cleaned thoroughly when you start, additional cleaning is not necessary. Sometimes it may be. If the kitten is not doing well, I would certainly ask your veterinarian to take another look at it.

    If the two cats had been in contact for some time, then the other cat could certainly have become infected. All cats in direct contact should be treated for the ear mites.

    I find that I usually get best results when I treat daily for 10 days (mite eggs hatch out 10 days after they are laid, so I want to catch all the new ones). I also like to give a single treatment on day 20 and day 30, in case there are any late hatching eggs.

    If the cats are not responding to treatment as expected, then they really need to be re-examined by your veterinarian.

  28. Nancy Mascarenhas says:

    I do a lot of research whenever my cat or dog has health issues. We are faithful visitors to our vet. (a little too often $$). After proper diagnosis I like to read more indebt info, both to better understand & prevent future episodes. Your site by far is the Best and Most Informative I have ever come across. My poor senior rescue kitty has multiple polyps in his ears w/frequent infections. Poor guy is deaf also. THANK YOU for sharing your professional knowledge.

  29. Doc says:

    Hello, Nancy,
    Thank you for your kind words. I wish there were a simple answer for these polyps. Regular cleaning sometimes helps to clear the debris that the polyps either produce or keep from being eliminated in the normal fashion.

    There are some veterinary surgeons who are equipped to use a laser through a video otoscope, and this can be successful.

    Conventional surgery is very tough, often requiring the surgical removal of the entire ear canal (total ear canal ablation and bulla osteotomy, TECABO). This is a radical surgery.

    This is just tough, unfortunately.

    • Vickie LaLonde says:

      Please help! My dog Stella can’t be seen for two weeks ,her vets are backed up that long.
      I do believe mites& fungal in both ears. I have tresaderm from 2 yrs ago stil in the fridge. Could I use it ? I flushed out both ears 2 days ago…I need help.

  30. Zelne says:

    Hi there, great blog! I wonder if you can help me with something a little different, I have 7 dogs I want to treat, they dont have infection but their ears seem to be itchy…my problem is, how on earth do I get them to hold still, they freak out whenever I come near their ears, 6 Yorkies and a staffie… if only I can get them to hold still I can treat the ears… any suggestions? 🙂 Thanks!

  31. Doc says:

    Hello, Zelne,

    If these dogs are truly freaking out when you get near their ears, I would be concerned that they are painful, and not just itchy.

    If that is the case, it may require sedation to get a good examination of the ears.

    I wouldn’t expect all 7 dogs to have an ear infection, while mites could definitely affect the whole crew.

    The only way to know for a fact it is ear mites is that they have had a good otoscopic exam by your veterinarian and they have had an ear swab checked under the microscope.

    If one of them has been definitively diagnosed, then they probably all do have ear mites.

    If they are really that freaked out, you may have to ask your veterinarian to give you a sedative for them. Milbemite Otic costs more than over-the-counter insecticide drops, but it’s a one-time treatment. That’s what I’d be going for.

    When there is also ear infection and inflammation, I prefer daily treatment with Tresaderm.

  32. Roger Racine says:

    My kitten had earmites when we took him to get neutered and the vet gave me some Tresaderm to treat them. Since the neutering, he’s been sleeping a lot more than usual. Is this because of the neutering or the Tresaderm?

  33. Doc says:

    Hello, Roger,
    I would not expect this to be the result of the Tresaderm. I also wouldn’t expect it after the neutering. Sometimes we send home pain medication that can make them drowsy.

    Let your veterinarian know about this.

  34. Eva says:

    My cat (newly adopted stray) has ear mites, the vet prescribed cleaning followed by surolan for 3 weeks, we had already started Advocate spot on. However the mites persisted so yet another 3 weeks of surolan. Again no luck so we tried frontline spot on and in ears (much less scratching, little head shaking and scratching persisted when ears were touched). I took her back to the vet (saw a different one) she has given stronghold (revolution), which I applied yesterday. Still scratching/shaking head when ears are touched. I’m just worried after reading your previous posts, that it could be a yeast infection (ears do not smell at all), the vet smelt them, however she used a cotton bud in ears and pulled out loose brown/black liquid type wax. She suggested stronghold and regular cleaning, which I’m doing. Also my other cat (11 years old, doesn’t have mites (according to the vet) why is this if they are so contagious? I have given her stronghold instead of her usual Advocate just in case! I also worry about the amount of strong stuff the stray has had over the past 5 months. Thank you

  35. Doc says:

    Hello, Eva,

    Surolan should be very helpful if there is a yeast infection.

    Stronghold (selamectin) is secreted in the ear wax, and is a good preventive for ear mites. I don’t find that it will usually clear an active infection of ear mites.

    The moxidectin in Advocate would certainly kill ear mites if it reached them, but I don’t believe it gets secreted in the ear wax.

    I think that cleaning the ears of debris with a flushing solution is very important.

    I find that I have good results with Tresaderm. The thiabendazole in it usually kills the ear mites without difficulty.

    You usually need something directly in the ear that kills mites.

  36. Eva says:

    Hello again,

    Thank you very much for your reply,

    Can you tell me if I can by Tresaderm without a prescription (I have been back and forth to the vets so many times now!), if not is there anything similar I can buy over the counter (we live in the UK)

    Many thanks

  37. Doc says:

    Hello, Eva,

    I do not believe that you can purchase Tresaderm over the counter.

    Most OTC ear mite medications contain only an insecticide in an oily base.

    I am sorry that I cannot give you a specific recommendation.

    The only thing that strikes me in the history you have given me is that there doesn’t seem to be anything to kill mites applied directly into the ear canal. I have usually found this to be a necessary part of the treatment.

  38. barbara says:

    All of our seven cats got chiggers this fall. We were give a pyrethrin medicine, ADL brand, from the vet and treated them as prescribed. We were cleaning the ears prior to treatment as instructed. However, the bugs were tenacious and didn’t seem to be going away on two of the cats, so the vet gave them Milbemite at the office. It worked on one of the younger cats, but the other cat, perhaps being older, took to her bed and became lethargic, hair loss on stomach, feet and claws became infected. She still shook her head occasionally (as if the bugs were still there), and when walking would shake her legs as if to get off a sticky paper or water. She had blood work done for thyroid and kidneys, which came out normal. She was previously a healthy active cat with no issues.
    Vet put her on antibiotics and prednisone, which seem to help a bit, but she still went downhill, lost much more hair – stomach almost bald, and rarely got out of bed. She eventually was put to sleep.. 2 months and 2 weeks after given ADL and less than 2 months after being given Milbemite. If not for the antibiotic and prednisone, she probably would have been gone much sooner.
    The other cats got rid of their bugs, they had chiggers two years previously, usually got ear mites, and the treatments worked. This is the first time we tried Milbemite. Also, although the two meds were not given at exactly the same time, could there have been an overlapping effect? Both the drugs are neurotoxins, esp. the Milbemite. I realize that she was 14 years old, but a very healthy one as I said. Another one of our cats is the same age and was NOT given Milbemite, as the ADL was working for him. The vet had no answers, unless I wanted to get a biopsy, which was not a good idea due to her rapidly declining health. Maybe it was her immune system. Whatever it was, it was NO coincidence. Any thoughts?
    Thank you.

  39. Doc says:

    Hello, Barbara,

    The Milbemite Otic pretty much just sits in the ear. It’s in a vehicle that allows it to work its way into the ear mite tunnels and kill the eggs. It is unlikely to get into the bloodstream, though.

    That being said, we have seen a patient that developed vomiting problems and a very bad skin eruption after treatment with Advantage II, when she tolerated plain Advantage just fine.

    Weird stuff happens.

  40. Joshua says:

    My cat has a bad case of ear mites. My vet gave me Tresaderm and told me 10 drops in each ear daily until the bottle is gone. However I have two questions.

    1. He never said anything about cleaning her ears so is that something I should do?
    2. I just started today and am bringing her back in 2 weeks, but he didn’t say anything about reapplying it or give me anything for the rest of the body. Should I be concerned or bring this up?

    Thank you for your time.

  41. Doc says:

    Hello, Joshua,

    If your doctor didn’t feel that the ears needed to be cleaned, there may not have been a lot of debris in there.

    10 drops is quite a bit, so it will probably loosen up debris and the cat will shake it out. Be sure to put the medicine in as deep as you can, and massage the ear canal to work it down inside. Hold on to the ear while you are doing it so that she doesn’t shake it out before you get it worked down in there.

    You don’t need to treat the rest of the body, except in VERY rare cases.

    If you use Revolution, that would treat the whole body, and take care of late hatchers ( the ear mites lay eggs in their tunnels in the ear canal lining).

    I like to treat for a full ten days, since the eggs hatch out about 10 days after they are laid.

  42. Ashley says:

    So I have a kitten who is four months old and a cat who is 8-10 (adopted) and when I took the kitten in for shots they found ear mites. Gave me a cleaning solution and her ears are all clearing up nicely. However my adult cat went in yesterday and got his ears flushed out. And I can see debris in his ear. The vet didn’t give me any cleaning solution for his ears or comment any further. He also is so angry he won’t let me at his ears. Is the debris anything I need to be concerned with?

  43. Doc says:

    Hello, Ashley,

    If the infected kitten was in direct contact with the older cat for any length of time, it is possible that the older cat has become infected with ear mites.

    I would ask your veterinarian if treatment to kill the mites has been prescribed. There is a one-dose treatment called Milbemite Otic, and you don’t have to clean the ears before you apply it.

    Revolution and Advantage Multi (NOT plain Advatage) will usually prevent ear mite infestation when used regularly each month.

    You should give your veterinarian this feedback on what you are seeing, and ask what was done, and what still needs to be done. The doctor may think that he/she has answered all your questions. Let him/her know that you need more information.

  44. Angel says:

    Do you know how long it takes for a bad case of ear mites to no longer be contagious if treated with ivermectin? I am going to be fostering a puppy with a bad case of mites and I do not want to bring him home if he will infect my entire household….

  45. Doc says:

    Hello, Angel,

    If you are applying the ivermectin directly into the ear canals, I would expect things to stop being contagious within a few days. I would still recommend treating for the full 10 day period, plus a follow up at day 20 and day 30. I do not usually treat the ears with that product, but it should work. Tresaderm is my favorite.

  46. Doc says:

    Hello, Amy,

    I would go ahead and treat. There is unlikely to be any systemic absorption from local treatment of the ear canals. If you don’t, she’ll infect the kittens, too (if it hasn’t happened already).

  47. J. says:

    Hi, I have a cat that has had ear mites for a few months. I tried OTC medication at first, then Revolution, and now one dose of Milbemite. I gave him the dose day before yesterday. I see brown stuff in his ears today. Should I clean them out with oil? Thank you.

  48. Doc says:

    Hello, J.,

    The time to clean out the ears would have been BEFORE you put the Milbemite otic in there.

    I have seen pretty good results putting Milbemite in dirty ears. It’s good stuff.

    It is not a preventive medication.

    Revolution isn’t all that great at treating an active infection, but is very good at preventing re-infestations.

    If you use Milbemite OTic, and follow-up with monthly Revolution, you should be good.

    If not, you may have some other kind of ear problem that is not mites in the first place.

  49. Lizz says:

    My poor kitty has ear mites, and I tried baby oil to loosen up the debris. Her poor ear is red now. I’m hoping it’s from the extra shaking and itching she’s been doing, and not from the baby oil. Any suggestions?

  50. Rhonda Scott says:

    I have a feral cat living on my porch. My vet gave me a vial of revolution because the cat has ear mites (i think) one ear is collapsed and the other looks squishy and the skin is whiteish and balding around the ears. He will not let me touch him. I can touch his back end briefly but getting to his neck is hard without spooking him. I wanted to give him the first dose and then trap him for the 2nd dose because I was told to get rid of we really need 2 doses. I know I will spook him after I trap him and he may not return for awhile. He left for approx 9 months after i neutered him. Finally the question…..Will revolution work if I can put it on his back closer to his tail???? Thanks

  51. Doc says:

    Hello, Lizz,

    The baby oil should certainly loosen up the debris, but it wouldn’t do much to kill the mites or their eggs (in the tunnels they’ve dug in the ear canal skin).

    You need to follow up with something to kill the mites. Milbemite Otic is a one-dose treatment. Most need to be used daily for 10 days, and I like to do a follow-up at day 20 and day 30 in case there are any late hatchers.

    All cats and dogs that are in direct contact need to be treated.

  52. Doc says:

    Hello, Rhonda,

    Revolution has to be applied beneath the hair, directly on the skin. It is absorbed into the skin, like water going into a sponge. In two hours, it is in the cat’s bloodstream, rather than on the skin.

    It is put between the shoulders or on the neck so that the cat cannot reach it to lick it off. It won’t hurt the cat, but it doesn’t work if you eat it.

    Most drugs leave the body in the wastes. Revolution (selamectin) leaves in the skin oils, including ear wax.

    This usually prevents infection with ear mites. If the infection is well established, it may not be totally effective in handling a severe infestation.

  53. Esme says:

    I notice my dog had some brown debris then began to dry through the outer , I began cleaning his ear(only one ear seems to have that) I cleaned it with olive oil, then I bought an over the counter medicine “Petarmor”. I been using that for a whole week and a half, the debris seems to decrease but atheres days he had less or some moe and still looks red, is there any other medications over the counter? Also how long is this going to take to treat? I clean his poor ear everyday twice a day, please help! I don’t want it to get worse.

  54. Layla Zack says:

    My male cat who is nearly 2 years old has what i think is a bad case of ear mites. I’m currently struggling to find a job and am pretty much broke. Is there any sort of plan that vets have for people like me? I don’t want my cat to suffer, and I now he needs to be treated before it gets worse. ( I’m getting rather sick of hearing that I shouldn’t even be owing a pet with my lack of finances…I lost my job unexpectedly >.< ) Also....do mites get affected by high temperatures? Because I've noticed on cooler days his ears don't bother him, but on hotter days he's not a happy kitty.

  55. Doc says:

    Hello, Esme,

    Examining the debris under a microscope is the only way to tell whether you have yeast, bacteria, mites, or what. There is no one medicine that treats them all.

    It is also possible to have a foreign object deep in the ear canal. This is more likely in cases that have only one ear affected, as your dog does.

    The dog needs to have your veterinarian scope his ear and get a diagnosis so that proper treatment can be done. Throwing one medicine after another into the ear is not the right thing to do.

  56. Doc says:

    Hello, Layla,

    I understand about the finances. I’m not sure what to tell you in regard to over the counter treatments, as there are multiple potential causes.

    I would be surprised if the outdoor temperature had much effect on ear mites. It’s already 101 inside the ear in a normal cat.

    If there is an allergic component to the problem, I could see how that might be better on cooler days.

    As to a plan to help people who are without funds, there are some humane society clinics that do provide that type of service. For my own clients, if I have had a working relationship with them already, then I do try to work with them until they get on their feet.

    It’s a little hard to work for free. Your help expect to get paid, your suppliers expect to get paid, the utility company expects to get paid, the phone company expects to get paid. Even if I wanted to work for nothing myself, it still costs me about $38,000 per month to run the place. And I’m not a big hospital.

  57. Esme says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions I hav . I will make an appointment to my dogs Vet, for now I will continue to clean his ear, is it okay if I still clean it twice a day? Also he likes to cuddle with me in bed or living room, will that be any harm for myself?

  58. Doc says:

    Hello, Esme,
    It won’t hurt to keep cleaning the outer portion of his ear. It is unlikely to be contagious to you in any way.

  59. Jasmine says:

    We recently adopted a 4 month old kitten who was given a first ear more treatment (not known what type) when examined by vet for shelter. We took him to our vet who confirmed ear mites under microscope and gave him advantage multi. We have another cat in house but vet recommended keeping kitten sequestered for a week in separate room to reduce chances of our other cat getting mites. My question is how do we know if kitten is truly not contagious anymore? We weren’t told anything about cleaning out his ears and definitely can see gunk still in his ears. With this being 2nd treatment in month and after a week since last treatment, would you consider it safe to expose our other cat to him? Please advise. Thanks so much!

  60. Doc says:

    Hello, Jasmine,

    I haven’t used Advantage Multi to treat ear mites, and cannot give you specific advice. My experience with other treatments has been that a follow-up in 2 weeks is a good idea.

    You should probably be okay, but you should ask your doctor what he/she thinks.

  61. TNT says:

    Hi Doc,

    I brought home a 10 week old kitten last week with ear mites. The vet gave me an aloe based cleaning solution to use everyday & Otomite Plus Ear Miticide to use twice a week. I have a 10 year old cat in the house that I’ve kept 100% away from the kitten. They have not been in direct contact with each other or even in the same area of the house but they have both been in direct contact with me. Can I transfer the ear mites from one cat to the other (via clothing, skin, hair, etc)? The drops make my kitten so uncomfortable, I really don’t want to treat my other cat if she doesn’t need it.

    Thank you!!!

  62. Doc says:

    Hello, TNT,

    Transmission of the ear mites usually requires pretty direct contact between the cats. It is unlikely that you would transfer it indirectly between the cats.

  63. Lola and Ollie says:

    Hi, I love this blog it is awesome and provides 10xs more info than the “geniuses” at Petco, anyway I have two kittens one is 6 weeks old, him I just got and he had ear mites when I got him and the other is 12 weeks, I knew that the younger one had ear mites, he was shaking his head and scratching at his ears and had the “coffee grounds” in his ears. There is no irritation on his ears, no cuts or bleeding or soreness. I was wondering if revolution is OK to give to the both of them? I noticed that my older one is shaking her head and scratching also but doesn’t have the coffee grounds but they have only been together for 4 days. Thank you so much!! Your site will now be recommended by me

  64. doc says:

    Hello, Lola and Ollie,

    Revolution should be okay for the older cat who doesn’t have a lot of crud in his ears.

    I believe Revolution says “8 weeks and older”, though, so (even though probably safe) probably should use Tresaderm or Milbemite Otic or some other ear mite preparation for the younger cat.

    Also, when the ears are really cruddy, I haven’t had as much success with using Revolution alone. It’s great as a preventive, and with early infections.

  65. Victoria says:

    hey! My kitten margo has had several treatments of revolution and one dose of milbemite which the vets said would cure the ear mites after one use. its been 2 weeks since that dose and she still has ear mites really bad. shes gotten to the point where she has scratched her ears so much she has scratched off the fur on both sides of her face and she just looks so pitiful. she has been getting quite a few fevers i just dont know what to do. please help!!!

  66. doc says:

    Hello, Victoria,

    The treatments you have described would usually eliminate an ear-mite problem.

    If there is no continuing exposure to other cats as a source of re-infection, then I would suspect that your cat has some additional problem besides ear mites.

    Time for a recheck appointment.

  67. Nichole says:

    Hi there.

    My two cats have earmites. I am having them treated but my question is, can earmites travel? I just recently moved into my parents and my two cats stay downstairs. THEY NEVER GO UPSTAIRS. and my parents have one dog and one cat who NEVER GO DOWNSTAIRS. are my parents animals at risk of getting them even though they NEVER come into contact with mine?

  68. doc says:

    Hello, Nichole,

    Ear mites are not like bed-bugs. They are transmitted by direct, body-to-body (usually head to head) contact.

    I do not anticipate any problems in your situation.

  69. Marge says:

    Hey! I have a 4 months old tabby cat , we got her from a pet store when she was 2 months old , my husband and me noticed she has a little bit of black dots in her ears we noticed she was scratching her ear with her feet frecuently I thought it was just ear wax it didn’t seem she got more than she already had after 2 motnhs later .I bought “Sentry Earmite Free Ear Miticide for Cats” from the pet store i been trying to put some in the ear since four days ago twice a day it’s pretty hard thoguh it seems she get more in her fur, tonight we just cleaned her ears with a Q-tip dipped in ear miticide and cleaned up some blood now her ears looks clean i wonder if what we are doing is correct and good for my kitten and also if this sounds like ear mites or something else . thank you beforehand i appreciate your help since right now i can’t take her to the vet

  70. Doc says:

    Hello, Marge,

    The most common cause of ear problems in a kitten like this would certainly be ear mites. However, it is also possible to have an ear infection. Your ear mite medicine will kill the bugs, but not bacteria or yeast, if the ear is infected.

    Sometimes you have mites and infections at the same time.

    Please do not dig around in the ears with a Q-tip. You tend to pack things down instead of lifting them out. It is okay to use the Q-tip to clean up junk that you can see on the outside.

    It would certainly be better to take your kitten to a veterinarian.

    If this is absolutely not possible, then I would put a few drops of mineral oil into each ear and massage it. Do this for 3 or 4 days. This will loosen up the wax and debris, and the kitten will shake it out.

    Then start putting your ear mite medicine drops in the ear. I would do this daily for 10 days, and repeat on day 20 and day 30 to catch any late hatching mites.

  71. Haley says:


    I just found out my kitten has ear mites and my vet did give me medicine and she actually did the first dose for me today. Now my kitten is very irritated in her ears and keeps meowing. Do you think it is just because of the mites freaking out because of the medicine or could she be having a reaction to the medicine?


  72. Doc says:

    Hello, Haley,
    I hope that by now your kitten is feeling better. Generally, the mites just die, rather than “freaking out” and causing more irritation. Some cats do get upset just because their ears are full of medicine, even though the medicine is not really irritating (like having your ears full of water). It is possible to be allergic to virtually anything. If your kitten is still having problems, I hope that you have contacted your veterinarian to let them know what is going on. In a situation like this, a recheck exam with the doctor who has seen your cat would be the best thing to do.

  73. Amy says:

    Hello. My 17 year old cat is in her 2nd week of treatment for mites. My vet says they most likely are a result of her weakened immune system. (diabetes plus chronic Prednisolone use for IBD. My question is, since she will most likely always have a weakened immune system, will the mites keep coming back, or worse yet, will they even go away at all? 🙁

  74. Doc says:

    Hello, Amy,

    Ear mites don’t come out of the sky. They are only acquired by direct contact, skin to skin, with an infected cat.

    It is certainly true that a cat with a weakened immune system could take longer to recover. You would think that if you are using insecticide-like chemicals to kill bugs, it wouldn’t matter what the cat’s immune system was doing. It does, though. The body’s defenses do make a contribution, along with the medicines. An immunosuppressed patient could certainly be more challenging to treat, requiring a longer course of therapy.

    In a case like this, I would be adding Revolution (selamectin), in case the mites are being harbored just outside the ears where your topical treatment wouldn’t necessarily reach. In years past, I have been told by the parasitiologist to dip the cat, as the mites might be temporarily just outside the ear. They also have noted that some cats sleep with their tails curled around them, and the mites could get on the tail tip temporarily.

    Instead of dipping, Revolution is much more effective, as the selamectin is secreted in all the skin oil glands ( and the ear-wax, too).

    The doctor who is seeing your pet is the best person to advise you. Let him/her now that you still have questions about the treatment plan.

  75. Terri says:

    We are fostering a small cat/kitten (?) She cried at our doorstep one night and we couldn’t turn her away. Problem is she has fleas and ear mites. I am unemployed and can’t afford vet bills. Family and friends have donated food and treatment products. I don’t know if they will work. We used Hartz ultra guard flea and tick prevention drops and ear mite treatment. Are these products harmful to her if ingested? She seems to be licking residual medication as she grooms herself. Please advise.

  76. Doc says:

    Hello, Terri,
    If the product label says it is approved for kittens, then they have had to consider that cats groom themselves when testing it for safety.

    It is always possible to have a bad reaction to something, but if the label states it is approved for kittens, then it will probably be okay.

  77. Kieri says:


    I have a 6 month old kitten which we got from a barn. When we got her she had ear mites – the people we got her from said they gave her one dose of medication and the vet prescribed us 2 doses of revolution which we applied. The last dose was applied at the beginning of July. I’ve recently noticed that she is scratching every once and a while and shaking her head, not all the time but enough that I am noticing it. However her ears look clean, when we first got her the vet showed us how brown they were but never cleaned them out or actually swabbed to double check after her last treatment. I think she might still have a mild case? Can I potentially just re-treat her without a check up and what meds would you recommend or should I bring her to the vet just to be sure? Trying to avoid an unnecessary cost if possible.

  78. Doc says:

    Hello, Kieri,

    My experience has been that Revolution is great as a preventive for ear mites, and really good as follow-up to treatment to prevent recurrence as the eggs hatch out. Also good if I suspect exposure, but ears are not funky.

    Sometimes if ear is full of crud, there is also secondary ear infection which needs to be treated.

    It is also possible to be re-infected if exposed to other cats.

    In a case like that, if the cat had been doing well, I probably would have stayed with Revolution on a monthly basis to prevent re-infection from other cats and from weird late-hatching eggs.

    That might take care of things, but I often have to treat daily for a while with something like Tresaderm.

    Best would be to get the ears rechecked by your veterinarian. It could be something entirely different.

  79. Livi says:

    My kitten was treated for ear mites at the vet the day after we brought him home. She told me that his treatment should kill all live mites within 30 minutes. She also used a solution and some q-tips to gently clean the gunk out of his ears. However, it’s 2 weeks later and he’s still itching and there’s still a bit of that brown residue left in his ears. I gently cleaned the the outermost parts of the inside of his ear, but I don’t feel confident going any deeper. Is it possible he still has mites? Or is it common for this residue to stay without mites present? Any advice on how to better clean his ears? He was only about 5 weeks old when rescued, so he’s still too young for preventative treatment. He’s scheduled to go to the vet in 2 weeks for his first shots so I plan to ask the vet soon too for her opinion.

  80. Doc says:

    Hello, Livi,

    I’m not sure what your veterinarian has used to treat the ears. There is a product called Milbemite Otic that is advertised to be a one-dose treatment, and you don’t even have to clean the ears. I tested this with a household full of cats once and it worked as advertised.

    However, I have treated the occasional cat with it and found that I still needed to do follow-up treatment. This may be because it didn’t fully penetrate the debris, or perhaps because some eggs in the tunnels were not inactivated.

    It is certainly possible that follow-up treatment will be needed. I might not wait two more weeks on this. I would recommend that you contact the veterinarian who treated the cat and let her know your concerns.

  81. Livi says:

    Thank you so much for your advice! I’ll give the vet a call today and see if she wants me to bring him earlier. I just don’t want it to spread through the house. 🙂

  82. Doc says:

    Hello, Livi,
    Fortunately, ear mites really cannot live long off the animal. They don’t infest your home the way fleas do.

  83. Caren says:

    I’ve searched the internet for quite some time trying to find help with ear mites. Cats have seen the vet, given medication and nothing has worked. I have to say there is more good information, explanations and common sense on your website than 100 other pages. You are to be commended for your work and your thoughtful responses. Thank you, I think we’ll get this under control..finally.

  84. Doc says:

    Hello, Caren,
    Thanks for your kind words.

    My first concern would be whether or not you are dealing with an ear infection or mites (or both). If you have been working that hard to control the mites, and you are still having problems, I’d be concerned that there is some additional factor.

    It is important to treat all the cats at the same time. In addition to treating the ears with Milbemite, or Tresaderm (my two favorites), I would want to treat with Revolution, as this would help with follow-up in late hatching eggs in the ear, plus deal with any mites that might be living just outside the ear canal temporarily. There are even reports of cats who sleep with tail curled around their face, and the tail temporarily harbors the mites.

    If the cats go outside, they can be re-infected by outside cats. The Revolution would prevent that from happening.

    Fortunately, they do not live off the host in the environment for any significant length of time. You don’t have to worry about spraying the home, as you would with flea problems.

  85. Janet says:

    My kitten was prescribed ottomite for her ears. I used as directed and finished her first round last Tuesday. Here ears are now dry and cracked and even losing fur. I read about otomite this morning but can’t find anything on this reaction. Also, the directions for ottomite plus was to use not more than once a week. My prescription was not for plus and it was to be used for 7 days straight. I am start another round next week

    1. Should I be concerned about this dryness? Or is it a common reaction?
    2. How do I help my kitten get her ears back to normal.

  86. Doc says:

    Hello, Janet,

    I would say that this is not a common side effect of the medication. I would be concerned that there is some additional problem, possibly a fungal infection of the area.

    You really should contact your veterinarain about this development.

  87. Amy says:

    I gave my cats an over the counter ear mite solution, now their ears are soooo red, like an Allergic reaction. Any ideas to relieve it? I’m throwing to bottle away too

  88. Doc says:

    Hello, Amy,

    It should be safe to rub the areas you can reach with a hydrocortisone cream, but don’t pack it into the ear canals.

    See your veterinarian as soon as possible.

  89. Carlie says:

    Hello, I adopted my kitten from the pound about a month ago and when I brought her to the vet they told me she has ear mites. They prescribed me ear cleaning solution, tresaderm, and an antibiotic and I’ve been cleaning her ears once a day and giving her tresaderm ear drops, 4 in each ear, twice a day. I give her the antibiotics twice a day, it says to give it with food but I’ve been giving her food then waiting about half an hour to give her the medicine so she can digest the food a little because the first time I did it right after she ate, she threw up. I’ve also noticed that since I’ve been giving her the antibiotics she’s been making this wet purring/growling/breathing sound, and she’s been heaving as if she wants to throw up. Is this normal? She had not done either before i started giving her medication. The receptionist at the vet told me to stop giving her the antibiotic. We have a drop off appointment scheduled for Tuesday and a check up appointment for the mites on Friday. My other question is about how long could it take for her to be cured of the mites? I have been giving her tresaderm since last Friday. I am going across the country to spend the holidays with my family on Saturday, but I can’t board her around other animals if she has ear mites. Please get back to me, thanks so much!

  90. Doc says:

    Hello, Carlie,

    You should really talk with the doctor who is seeing your pet. It is certainly possible that the cat could be made nauseated by the antibiotic, but that’s not the only possible cause of the vomiting.

    Usually, I feel that the cat will be non-contagious after 10 days of treatment, though I do like to do one follow-up treatment on day 20 and day 30. This is to catch any eggs that have hatched out at a later time than the usual ten days after the mite laid them in their tunnels.

  91. Debbie says:

    Hi..my 14 yr old male cat has ear mites, and he has a twin brother that likes to groom him. So my question is, what products are going to be effective and safe for my cats and how long should I keep them separated after treatment? Thanks…

  92. Doc says:

    Hello, Debbie,

    I like to use Tresaderm if there is secondary yeast infection (and there frequently is). Plus, it has some cortisone in it to relieve the irritation faster, instead of just killing the mites.

    Milbemite otic is available at your veterinarian, and is a one-dose one-time treatment.

    You should treat both cats at the same time. If ear mites are really the problem, they would both have them.

    If the cats don’t go outside to contact other cats to catch the mites, then I’d be suspicious of another type of ear problem.

    Unless the mites have been seen under the microscope by your veterinarian, you wouldn’t really know that mites are the problem,

  93. Doc says:

    Hello, Christina,

    It is not uncommon to see one ear affected in a much more severe way than the other. Usually they do spread to both ears eventually, though.

    Ear infections are more likely to be on one side only, though they can certainly be on both sides at the same time.

  94. Patricia says:

    I rescued a 1 year old female cat last week. She also had to be fixed, plus the surgeon also recommended a vet for her ‘ear’ problem. The vet diagnosed as mites and prescribed tresaderm twice a day. Six drops in each ear. I can tell it hurts her when I put in the drops. Now she will not eat and vomited about 5 times today. Could it be from the surgery or the ear infestation? I’m pretty worried, she only weighs 5 lbs. She only wants to sleep and usually is very active. What can you suggest I do?

  95. Doc says:

    Hello, Patricia,

    I would not expect this type of illness from either the ear-mite treatment or the surgery. She needs to be rechecked by the veterinarian as soon as you can arrange it.

  96. Adam says:

    Hi Doc,

    I have a mature cat named Elaine that I recently fostered after my neighbors couldn’t care for her anymore. Her ears are BAD. I’ve tried some over the counter ear drops to help rid the mites, but if you look into her ear canal.. it’s terrible. Black everywhere. I can only assume she has had them for years, so imagine the build up. It pains me to see her in such condition as she is very loving. What is the process in removing the build up? She claws the death out of me if I even touch one of her ears. I understand I can’t apply the ear mite drops until she is rid of the build up, but what would you recommend for such a severe case? What is the best way to get it out? It truly is bad.

  97. Doc says:

    Hello, Adam,

    If the ears are that sore, it may require sedation to get them cleaned out. This would also allow your veterinarian to determine if ear mites are actually the problem.

    Nothing hurts like an ear-ache, so it’s hard for me to recommend a cleaning method for you to use at home.

  98. Nikki says:

    I recently adopted a poor cat that has severe ear mites to the point that the inside of his ear is full of dried and fresh blood (it looks like a battle scene). I’m wanting to get this treated as fast as possible because I know he must be in excruciating pain. Are these medications (specifically Melbemite) safe to use in this situation? I don’t want to irritate the ear or cause him pain but I also want to get this treated.

  99. Doc says:

    Hello, Nikki,

    It sounds like there is a lot of secondary infection and inflammation there. This may have to be treated first before you can successfully address the ear mites.

    Many times we will need to sedate the pet for proper cleaning of the ears because they are so painful. After the ears are cleaned, if they are too swollen to medicate easily, some pets require some systemic anti-inflammatory treatment to shrink the swelling (like a short-acting cortisone shot or pills).

    Tresaderm has cortisone in it for the inflammation, and the thiabendazole in it kills the mites, as well as helping with any secondary yeast.

    Your veterinarian will know what to do.

  100. Ron says:

    Thanks for your suggestions. I just adopted lovely Himalayan siblings from a rescue and the boy seems to have in one ear only lots of wax and a few tiny blobs of blood from where he scratched his ears. He occasionally scratches and shakes his head but it’s not frequently. His sister has clean ears and no issues.

    I was wondering if I should be concerned about ear mites or if that’s something that would be more obvious than what I’m seeing in the boy?


  101. Doc says:

    Hello, Ron,

    I would definitely be concerned about ear mites. If your veterinarian finds mites in either kitten, I would treat both ears in both cats.

  102. Anne says:

    Ear mites (otodectes) are not burrowing mites and do not lay there eggs in tunnels, you are confused with the sarcoptes species.

  103. Doc says:

    Your point is well taken. I often see eggs on diagnostic swabs. However, I find that even with a thorough ear-cleaning, patients tend to have better results with a prolonged course of treatment. This makes me wonder where the eggs are harboring. Perhaps you could enlighten me?

  104. Susie Crist says:

    I have a cat “sanctuary” at our farm. There is a group of cats indoors, only, and I’ve had a series of ear mite issues over the last couple of years, on-going. Two cats have had aural ear surgery because of hematomas in the outer ear. (Quite costly!) My vet suggests Revolution, which I have used in all cats, also very costly! My question us this: Can I safely treat use a mitacide simultaneously with Revolution for more complete treatment? My vet prescribes Otomite, given once every 7 days, if I don’t use Revolution. Although this is more cost effective, the mites reoccur. I have to treat the mites myself most of the time, as I can’t take them all to the vet! Also, I’ve always used Epi-ear prior to treatment, my vet usually doesn’t clean out the ears. Somehow, that makes no sense to me. Thx for your comprehensive information on the subject – this is the best site I have been in to learn as mych as I can. (I also examine the ears w/ an otoscope regularly, but these stubborn mites reoccur). Thx!!!

  105. Doc says:

    Hello, Susie,
    The mites are readily transmitted by direct, head-to-head contact between cats. If there are several cats in contact, you need to treat them all simultaneously to eliminate the problem. Otherwise they just keep passing it back and forth.

    I have been told in the past that the mites can harbor temporarily outside the ear in the surrounding skin, which would explain how they are transmitted. If they were only deep in the canal, they wouldn’t spread so easily. It has also been suggested that since a cat may sleep with his tail curled around him, the tail tip might also temporarily harbor the mites. For this reason, the Revolution would be really good, as it is excreted through the skin oil glands (and ear wax glands) so it would be a whole body treatment.

    I haven’t had great luck using Revolution as the sole treatment. It seems to work better as a preventive and as a follow-up to treating the ears.

    I like Tresaderm, because it also has some anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Might be a little too pricey for treating a large number of cats.

    Something like Otomite that is basically just insecticide in oil is much more economical.

    I like to treat daily for 10 days, as the mites have laid eggs which are hatching out continuously, but should all hatch out within 10 days after they are laid.

    You could probably do about as well treating every other day for 10 days.

    I prefer to clean the ears prior to starting treatment. It seems to me that I have better luck with this. My medicine can get directly to the affected skin, rather than sitting on top of a bunch of crud.

    The makers of Milbemite Otic claim you don’t need to clean the ears first. I think that depends a little bit on how bad they are.

    If the debris is pretty dry and crusty, sometimes you can just put some mineral oil in the ear, massage it around, and the cat will shake out most of the debris.

    It should be no problem to use the Otomite and Revolution at the same time.

  106. Andrea Patterson says:

    Hello, just found your site while looking for a better cleaning solution to dog ear mite other than typical mineral oil.
    Thank you for this article and being soo informative. It kills me to see my babies shaking their head so vigorously and soo often. I do the mineral oil but did not know it was just to get the junk out. I thought I was doing something to kill the mites. I feel I am now armed and ready to be a better mom for my 2 Yorkies.
    I have two questions. Is the ear cleaning from a groomer sufficient before starting the Tresaderm? And, can it be gotten anywhere else other than a Vet, like Amazon and be trusted to be legit?
    Again thank you for this article!!!!!

  107. Doc says:


    The groomer’s cleaning could be sufficient. It’s hard to say, as I don’t know what any particular groomer is doing.

    The best way to know if it is clean is for your veterinarian to examine the ear with an otoscope.

    As to the legitimacy or potency of Tresaderm purchased over the internet, I really do not know.

    I like Tresaderm, as it has a cortisone type of drug to relieve irritation, and something that kills yeast, and secondary yeast infections are common with ear mites.

    The over-the-counter stuff is usually just insecticide in an oil base, which is okay if there is no ear infection.

  108. Andrea says:

    Thanks for your quick response. They have appts with the Vet. They say they don’t really flush ears but will look with an Otoscope to determine if they need the Tresaderm. I would like to request it anyway as “I” think they need it according to your detailed informative article and answers to comments.

    Thank You!!!

  109. Doc says:

    Hello, Andrea,
    You’re welcome. Not every ear problem require flushing out. If there is a lot of debris, it usually does facilitate effective treatment.

  110. Andrea says:

    According to their ear samples viewed under a microscope slide, turns out they both had bilateral ear yeast infection, no ear mites. Given Otomax and Virbac Epi Otic ear cleanser. Whew, relieved.

    Thanks for ALL the information. Your article was very educating

  111. Kailey says:

    Hi there! I have a one year old pit bull mix who just woke up in the middle of the night shaking her head and scratching one ear violently. I dug out some cotton balls and swabbed, and got a bunch of brown smelly gunk like you’re describing (two cotton balls full). I swabbed the other ear and got nothing. I used some ear cleaner and rubbed her ear and swabbed again; didn’t get much but she was noticeably relieved. She shook her head and scratched a little more, but now she’s asleep again. She hasn’t had contact with anything with ear mites as far as I know, and she’s on heart guard and flea and tick medication, but could it be a tick? Or still potentially ear mites? We have two other dogs who aren’t having these problems, and they all roll around together all the time. Also confused why the other ear is just fine and non-gunky. Just wondering if I should take her to the vet or not!

  112. Doc says:

    Hello, Kailey,

    You should absolutely take her to the veterinarian. The ear needs to be cleaned (gently) and examined with an otoscope. This could be anything from mites to yeast to a foreign object down in the ear.
    Nothing hurts like an earache.

  113. Doc says:

    Hello, Lisa,

    The only way to be sure that your dog’s ear problem is actually mites is to examine the crud under the microscope. Yeast infections can look very similar to the eye, but won’t respond to insecticide treatments.

    Bad ear infections need to be thoroughly cleaned, as well, so that the medicine can actually contact the diseased lining of the ear.

    Your best bet is to take this kid to your veterinarian.

  114. Kristie says:

    I have a feral cat where I work. The office is surrounded by woods. There was a feral cat there when we moved in. I’ve been feeding him, applying flea and tick medicine for 8 years. I have treated his scrapes and cuts with neosporin and amoxicillin. My current problem is his ears. I feel sure, after looking on line , that he has ear mites. I’ve tried to get mite treatment drops into his ears, but not with much luck. He waits for me every morning for his daily meals. My question is, since I don’t think I’ll succeed with a topical medicine, is there an internal medicine that could be used? I wouldn’t have any problem getting him to eat it. He looks awful, bless his heart, and I know he’s in pain. It’s breaking my hesrt. And, no, going to the vet is not an option. Any suggestions?

  115. Doc says:

    Hello, Kristie,
    I have used a product called Milbemite Otic, as a single treatment.

    I have pasted below an excerpt from a study evaluating other products in single dose treatments.

    I am not sure about Acarexx, but the other products are prescription products, and cannot be dispensed without a doctor-client-patient relationship.

    Kittens ≥4 weeks of age with live ear mites in both ears were administered 0.5ml of 0.01% ivermectin otic suspension (Acarexx; Idexx Pharmaceuticals) once, AU or selamectin (Revolution; Pfizer Animal Health) once, on the skin following the manufacturer’s instructions. Repeat microscopic examination was performed on individual ears based on a randomization schedule during the 72h after treatment. There was no evidence of toxicity with either drug and administration of 0.01% ivermectin significantly reduced the time to live mite-free status compared to selamectin. Both drugs have an effect against O cynotis as early as 10-12h after administration with an increasing effect over time.

  116. Mary Ann Runewicz says:

    I have been trying to treat my dog for ear mites with over the counter medicine which did not work. Then I read that using raw apple cider vinegar as a rinse and diatomaceous earth would kill the mites but would take a month or more to eradicate the mites. This was a little over 2 months ago. I have always seen the DE clumping the mites to be swabbed out, however your article says swabbing just packs it down. Is there any other treatment besides Revolution that really work quickly?


  117. Doc says:

    Hello, Mary Ann,
    Diatomaceous earth?!? Inside the ear?!? I’m sure it is damaging to the mites, but packing the ears full of powder is not helpful. The ear canal is not supposed to function as a mud-pie.

    Diatomaceous earth kill bugs by getting between the plates of their exoskeleton and causing them to dehydrate. It doesn’t clump them together.

    You can’t see the mites with the naked eye, anyway. Not without a bright light on a black background, where they would look like a tiny speck, about 1/5 the size of a grain of salt.

    Since over-the-counter medicines did not appear to clear the problem it is very likely that there is ear infection instead of just mites. OTC meds are just insecticides, with nothing for irritation.

    At this point, I would want to be sure that all of the debris from your treatment was cleared from the ear, which will require an examination with an otoscope, and likely some flushing to remove the residue.

    Then I would follow up with Tresaderm, which has cortisone for inflammation, as well as ingredients that kill yeast and bacteria along with the mites.

    It’s time to see your veterinarian on this one.

  118. Jake Robinson says:

    Hi I’m glad your helping people help their pets! What treatment do you recommend for dogs? It says works for cats and not that well for dogs.

  119. Doc says:

    Hello, Jake,
    When a pet has an ear problem, I do recommend that you see your veterinarian. You can see a stinky or painful ear, head-shaking, ear-scratching, head-rubbing with any type of ear problem: fungus infections, bacterial infections, foreign objects, ear mites.
    You need to know what the problem is before you treat it. Also, the ear needs to be cleared of debris, and that usually takes some flushing. You need an otoscope (and likely a microscope) to diagnose the problem, and an otoscope to be sure the ear is clean after your flushing.
    Then you can select a treatment. We usually use Tresaderm for ear mites in our dog patients.

  120. Betty says:

    Hi & thanks for offering your advice to those who care for pets. Until I can get one of my cats to the vet (next week) for proper cleaning & treatment, can I provide some relief by applying Revolution that expired in August? Thanks much, Betty

  121. Doc says:

    Hello, Betty,
    Sorry I got behind on answering. Just saw this.

    I feel quite sure that the Revolution that expired in August is still good, and certainly not harmful.

    I’m not sure how fast you’d get any relief with it. I’ve had best luck with it as a preventive, or treatment when there isn’t a lot of guck in the ear.

    Worth a try, though.

  122. Octavia Gausden says:

    Hello there, I have two kittens and two cats. I believe that one of the kittens is showing signs of having ear mites. I live in the UK and the treatments you have suggested in your article are not sold over here. Any other suggestions for the UK market please would be greatly appreciated.

  123. Doc says:

    Hello, Octavia,

    I would think that your best resource would be a veterinarian in the UK.

    I’m sorry that I don’t have the information that you need.

  124. Doc says:

    Hello, again, Octavia,
    I spoke with a parasitologist. He says that mineral oil in the ears once daily for 21 days should eliminate ear mites.

    The problem with that is that the ear problem may not be mites at all. There are other types of ear infections. Often with ear mites you have secondary infections that need to be treated, and the oil certainly wouldn’t do that. It also wouldn’t relieve inflammation in the ear. Sometimes you even have problems with foreign objects in the ear.

    I would certainly recommend that you have the ear checked instead of just trying random remedies.

  125. Lauretta says:

    Hi Doc, your blog if great! I am going to treat my kitten whose ears are infested, exactly as you suggest.
    But my main question is how to treat an outdoor feral cat whom I see butting heads with my little guy when I let him out on the porch.
    The problem is this feral doesn’t really like being handled by people, although he has been letting me scratch his neck lately for a few seconds.
    I’m thinking that’s enough time to give him a quick dose of rRevolution, but there’s no way he’s going to let me hold him long enough to actually clean his ears, so I think I’ll just be wasting my money.
    What shoul I do?

  126. Doc says:

    Hello, Lauretta,
    You’ve got a nearly impossible situation. Revolution would probably help, but you’d have best results doing it monthly. With that kind of tenuous relationship, you might not even be able to get it on him once. You have to part the hair and squirt it directly on the skin. It would be easy to lose most of it when he jerked away.
    I would keep the kitten on Revolution after you treat him in order to protect him from future re-infection.

  127. Leslie Fisk says:

    Hi, I have a cat that has mites and got a shot. She is doing better. I have two other cats who do come in close proximity with the ear mite kitty. I gave both those cats a dose of advtantage multi a week ago. They are scratching. So my question is, can I do topical Ivermectin and give it to the two cats who are showing signs? I dont want these cats to keep on passing it back and forth. Can I use Ivermectin with Advantage Multi and when would the cats for sure be mite free? Thank you.

  128. Doc says:

    Hello, Leslie,
    The Advantage Multi contains Moxidectin, a related compound. It does go systemic. I am not sure how long or if it is excreted in the ear wax (like the selamectin in Revolution is). I suspect that, like Revolution, it is better as a preventive than as a treatment for an active infection.

    I usually like to use Tresaderm along with this. A drop of ivermectin in the ear is unlikely to be absorbed into the body enough to be toxic to the cat, but doesn’t help with any secondary infections the way the Tresaderm does.

    You should really discuss this with the doctor who is seeing your cats.

  129. Spring says:

    My cat wont stop licking her paws after I used a ear mite insecticide on her ears… I know she got some on her paws after scratching her eats after I used it. Should I be concerned?

  130. melissa says:

    Doc, what a generous resource! How patiently you repeat yourself again and again. And i can read that you are a kind and conscientious person.
    I have a funny question: Would the Tresaderm have any pheromonal properties? Let me explain:
    My buddy cat has a “cauliflower ear”- it was driving him crazy for a few years. Finally found a cat-friendly vet and as it turns out they suggested and i did almost exactly as you say for mites and related irritations, i’m pleased to say. One difference is Advantage multi instead of Revolution, which i applied to his feline companion but have not treated him yet. Since treatment he has become much more comfortable and sociable…and, for the first time in his 10 years, a humper! Perhaps he just feels too good to know what to do about it.
    The new vet also used something i’d never encountered they called “magic spray” which they described as a pheromonal calming agent they spray on the towel he sat on as they cleaned his ears. I suppose that’s more likely related than the Tresaderm, but he didn’t start humping until two weeks later.

    Perhaps a more appropriate question in this thread: My vet’s protocol was 3 drops Tresaderm deep into each ear daily for 6 days following the vet’s initial mineral oil cleaning and treatment, then same dose only twice a week for the following 3 weeks. That makes a month total. Vet did say more is not better, and i see you’re recommending only one more treatment at 10 and 30 days. Could we be overdoing it with the Tresaderm twice a week? It’s certainly helping…
    as is your kind service here! Thanks much:)

  131. Doc says:

    Hello, Melissa,
    As veterinarians, we get started with a treatment protocol suggested by the expert of the day, and if it works, we tend to stay with it. The difference in treatment schedule shouldn’t cause any problems. When we use Tresaderm to treat infections, we often use it twice daily, so you’re not “overdoing it”.

    I have never had a patient change behavior, as you describe, with the use of Tresaderm. The Feliway cat “comfort pheromone” doesn’t usually cause a behavioral change, other than calming down.

    A search on Veterinary Information Network gave some suggestions:
    If he’s mounting the owner (which typically happens when owners are seated) then the owner should just get up and slough off the cat– don’t scold or attempt to punish. Provide a really enriched environment– lots of resting places, hiding places, toys, etc. If he’s playful, provide some playtime with the owners with toys. Also consider providing him with some downtime when he’s separated from people or the dog and can decompress.

    For more suggestions on environmental enrichment, take a look at https://indoorpet.osu.edu//

  132. sam anto says:

    The use of yellow dock dates back to prehistoric times when people used it to treat multiple skin problems also it can be use to treat ear mites in cats.

  133. Doc says:

    Hello, Sam,
    I have no data on the efficacy of yellow dock. A search of Veterinary Information Network yields the following caution:

    “Although the oxalic acid content of most herbs, such as yellow dock root (Rumex crispus), is generally small and usually will not cause a problem with moderately dosed, short term use (up to 14 days), it is best to avoid them in cases of preexisting kidney or urinary disease. “

  134. Anne Bridel Bamba says:

    Hi I’m Bridel. I adopted a stray cat from the shelter. She is a 5 months old kitty. When I took her home I can’t bathe her right away because she just had her spay surgery. I noticed her ears were dirty (black colored debris). Took her to the vet and they said she have ear mites. The vet gave her Revolution and have to give her another one after 2 weeks. Ever since the first medication I always clean my cats ear everyday, but Im not sure if the medication is working because every time I clean her ears it will be clean but the next day there’s some debris again. I don’t know if that’s from the ear mites or the medication is working and trying to push the debris out. Hope you can help me!!

  135. Doc says:

    Hello, Bridel,
    The Revolution is being secreted into the ear canal as the cat makes new ear wax.

    It doesn’t do anything to create or remove debris.

    In severe cases I have to treat with ear drops because the Revolution just doesn’t get the job done. It is great as a preventive against ear mites, and the two treatments prescribed by your veterinarian will probably take care of the infestation.

    I’m not sure how you are cleaning the ears. Putting several drops of mineral oil into each ear and massaging it around will loosen up the junk and the cat will shake it out. You might have to do that two days in a row.

    That doesn’t work well for ear infections, but usually does work well with the crusty or waxy debris we see with ear mites.

  136. Anne Bridel Bamba says:

    If I use mineral oil to clean my cat’s ears and remove all the debris, does that remove or kill the eat mites too?

  137. Doc says:

    Hello, Bridel,
    I wouldn’t count on it killing the mites and eggs. It’s bound to be hard on them (can’t breathe oil), but probably won’t cure the problem.

  138. Kitty says:

    I rescue lots of cats (over 100 in the last 3 years) and when I bring them into my home I always bathe them, put hydrogen peroxide in their ears and wipe them clean with a cotton ball. Never had mites…until now 🙁 ( possibly from the feral that has taken up residence on my front porch). My vet gave me Revolution which I used to use monthly but it got to expensive. Needless to say it didn’t work. I also tried using olive oil but stopped that when I got the revolution. 2 of the 6 cats are extremely uncooperative when it comes to putting stuff in their ears and I hate stressing them that much. So I switched to hydrogen peroxide to help loosen all the gunk. Will that kill the mites? Is it harmful to my kitties?

  139. Doc says:

    Hello, Kitty,

    Peroxide may loosen up the debris. It is certainly not harmful, as it degrades into water and oxygen.

    If the cats are difficult to medicate, the only “one dose” treatment I’ve had any luck with is Milbemite Otic. It theoretically doesn’t require ear cleaning first, though I prefer to clean first when possible.

    It’s pricey, unfortunately. Ear mites are very contagious between cats and new cats should be isolated until checked out.

  140. Antoinette says:


    I found a kitten in the middle of the road who had a severe upper respiratory infection. Her eyes were gunked shut (whole other issue) and she has earmites. We found her at 4 weeks old. Since she was so young and weighed only less than a pound, the vet prescribed her tresaderm but asked that we only do one or two drops per ear daily. She said this may not kill them all but it will kill some until she is old enough for revolution. She was prescribed this roughly a week and a half ago. I have faithfully been cleaning her ears and using the drops. Her ears are cleaner everyday but still dirty and itchy. I have four other cats at home who are impatient to meet her and she is getting restless given it is her third week being quarantined and confined to a room alone. Aside from the other issues she has been facing, which I was told should no longer be contagious, do you think her earmites are still contagious? How much longer do you think I should keep her quarantined?

    Thank you.

  141. Doc says:

    Hello, Antoinette,

    I would keep her separated until the respiratory issues are fully resolved – no snot in eyes or nose, no sneezing.

    The ear mites are spread by direct contact. I would doubt that she is contagious after 10 days of treatment. It is possible for the mites to harbor temporarily on the skin around the ears. Sometimes cats sleep with tail curled around face, so in stubborn cases we dip whole cat with lime sulfur (Very safe). Revolution will also take care of mites harboring in other locations.

    I hope she continues to improve. Your best source of advice in a case like this is the doctor who is actually seeing your cat.

  142. Aleta Boyette says:

    Any advice for natural and inexpensive remedies that can work just as well would be greatly appreciated. thx

  143. Doc says:

    Hello, Aleta,
    I’m afraid that is outside my of expertise. I’m just glad to have something that works well for my patients.

  144. Stacey says:

    I rescued a litter of feral kittens. They had ear mites when I had them spayed/neutered. I should have treated mine. Dumb mistake.
    I put frontline on everybody yesterday. Can I use otomite plus for the mites while they have frontline on? I don’t want to over expose kittens or my cats to pesticides. Kittens are 12 weeks old. Thank you!

  145. cheryl johnson says:

    Love your site. Very helpful information. Thank you!
    Any suggestions on how to deal with earmites with feral cats? I like the one-time solution plan. Problem is getting the medication from a vet w/o seeing the cat. Feral cats are not cooperative this way. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks again!!

  146. Doc says:

    Hello, Cheryl,
    No good ideas here. Under those circumstances, cats are sure to become re-infected even if you could catch them and treat them. Nice to get them cleared up for a while, but there’s no way to confer immunity.

  147. Trish says:

    I have 3 12 week old kittens. I first came across ear mites due to one of the kittens having what looked like a fit. He vomited, had a bowel movement and his head was tilted and I didn’t know what to do. I have had cats all my life basically but never came across this situation.Took him to the PDSA vet charity. Was told he had an ear infection other than that was fine! Had a course of antibiotics? He now has a tilted head as they call it, sometimes he looks fine and then sometimes he looks puzzled with the way he holds his head.

    Due to this I started to research online and found that ear mites are sometimes the cause of this.
    So I took to starting to use olive oil with garlic to cleanse their ears but low and behold since doing this their ears have got to look worse. The dirt that is coming from their ears is truly unbelievable. I clean them one day and the next they are so dirty again. I searched again online to find advocate and used that. But it’s still the same. This has been going on for over 2 weeks now and I’m getting fed up of cleaning their ears.
    Now is the dirt coming out a good thing? Is this normal? Could their ears really hold this much dirt?
    I am in the u.k and cannot find any of the stuff that you recommend.
    Can you help please
    Thank you

  148. Doc says:


    Ear mites are not likely to penetrate the ear drum, causing a middle ear infection (which would cause the balance problem or head-tilt).

    It would be possible with a prolonged infestation to develop a secondary infection that perforated the eardrum, I suppose. However, I have seen many ear-mite-infested cats and kittens with their ears full of unbelievable amounts of debris, and yet their eardrum remained intact, and no middle ear problems.

    Olive oil is organic and could serve as a food supply for micro-organisms in the ear. If I use oil to break up hard dry wax accumulations, I use mineral oil, as it is inert.

    You shouldn’t be finding that much debris in the ears every day if they are being cleaned. I would make an appointment with your veterinarian for a recheck, and don’t put anything in the ears for at least 3 days before you go in. You can create problems by putting stuff in the ears. You want to let that settle down a little before the doctor re-evaluates things.

  149. trish says:

    hello again,
    Thank you for your kind response.
    so do you believe that I have made things worse by using olive oil infused with garlic?(which I read would get rid of the mites)
    I really cannot afford to see a vet at the moment.
    could you suggest any other means of eradicating these mites?
    Today I looked at their ears again and they were absolutely filthy. so much so that I cleaned them out and then gave them each a good bath as the debris kind of went onto their fur as I was cleaning them.
    I am going to buy some mineral oil and use that and see how it goes.
    may I ask…could this be anything other than ear mites?
    thank you in advance

  150. Doc says:

    Hello, Trish,

    It is hard to say what is going on without seeing the pet.

    Yeast infections can sometimes mimic ear mites.

    Examining the debris under a microscope to check for mites and bacteria and yeast is what is needed. Then one needs a good cleaning of the ears so that one can take a good look inside them with an otoscope.

    I wish there were a good way to handle this from a distance, but I don’t know of one.

  151. trish says:

    you must be very busy so taking the time to answer my questions is very kind of you…thank you!

    I wish I could send you a picture but not sure if I can via this forum.

    could you explain what a yeast infection would look like. would there still be a build up of waxy secretions together with what I would call flakiness round the pinna and just around the pocket/slit of the ear.
    I have purchased Otodex drops and started using them yesterday so day 2 today of treatment. their ears were not as bad this morning but still quite an accumulation of wax etc.
    Any idea now as to what it could be?
    May I also ask one more question the head tilt in one of my kittens…what can you suggest about that?
    the vet at the PDSA said he had an ear infection which caused his head to be tilted but did not say anything about ear mites.
    thank you again

  152. Doc says:

    Hello, Trish,
    I have never used the Otodex product. I Googled it, and see that it has a claim for wax dissolving and for killing of ear mites, which sounds good.

    Yeast infections in cats usually have a lot of dark, waxy debris. You see the yeast under the microscope only. Cats with ear mites often have simultaneous secondary infections with yeast organisms. Yeast tend to be opportunists, rather than primary bad actors.
    Head tilt would be an unlikely sequel to ear mites. It is caused by something affecting the cat’s balance apparatus. This includes the middle and inner ear, and the vestibular nuclei in the brain.

    So this can be an inner ear infection, a head injury, brain damage. It is not uncommon for a patient to recover from the actual infection, but to have a permanent head tilt while feeling fine. This is something that is hard to evaluate, even when seeing the pet.

  153. Mike says:


    My 1 year old cat has been scratching both ears for a few months now, and they have a funny smell associated with them. The build up of debris looks similar to the coffee ground appearance and the pictures that come up with a google image search for ear mites. I think ear mites are highly likely, and started to look up treatment options online.

    I saw that eradimite seems to be pretty popular. What are your thoughts on the product?

    Thank you!

  154. Doc says:

    Hello, Mike,

    Eradimite is a good product for ear mites. It would not be helpful for any type of infection, though.

    I would probably put a dropper of mineral oil in each ear and massage it to loosen up the debris. Then let the cat shake it out. I’d do that two days in a row, then start the Eradimite treatment. My usual course is daily for 10 days, then skip 10 days and treat once on day 20 , skip 10 and treat once on day 30.

  155. B says:

    Thank you for this article it is the most helpful one I’ve found on this topic. I am not able to take my cats to the vet at this time and the solution I got from amazon didn’t do the trick (I followed all the directions). Is there anything over the counter or diy recipes that actually resolve the issue of ear mites for my cats. Thanks so much!

  156. Doc says:

    Hello, B,

    I don’t have any home remedies. Most over the counter products are basically insecticide in an oily vehicle.

    If all the cats are affected, it is more likely to be ear mites than an infection. If you had one cat that wasn’t getting better, I’d be suspicious of an infection rather than mites.

    You do need to treat all the cats simultaneously.

    Rarely the mites will live on the tip of the tail where the cat sleeps with it curled around the head, and they certainly can be around the outside of the ears. Using a good flea-control product along with the ear mite treatment is one more base to cover.

    I do like to put some mineral oil in the ears for several days before starting treatment. Doing this will soften up the debris, and the cat will shake most of it out. Then your treatment doesn’t have to filter through the crud.

  157. Devon says:

    Hi, I had my best friend shadow with me for 10 years. Took him into the vet. They told me he only had eggs in his ears and a minor yeast infection in the ear. After aplying the ear mite killing ointment. He hasn’t shook or scratched his ear. Is it possible for a yeast infection to go away after ear mite treatment or continue with the yeast infection treatment

  158. Doc says:

    Hello, Devon,
    The yeast often are opportunists, who get going after the mites have damaged things. If your doctor has given you medication for the yeast, I would continue the treatment as prescribed. You might as well do it right.

  159. Lisa says:

    You mentioned not much success in using revolution to cure ear mites. However that was an old post. I was recently told to apply revolution for a second time two weeks after my cat’s initial treatment and that will kill ear mites. Do you have any experience with this method?

  160. Doc says:

    I like Revolution a lot. Where I had poor success was in animals with a large amount of debris in the ears, usually along with secondary infections.

    I think there are just too many “hidey-holes” the mites. The revolution gets secreted in the ear wax as it forms. It needs to contact the bugs.

    Using Revolution two times, two weeks apart, would certainly give you higher levels of selamectin in the ears and would likely be better than either a single dose or two doses 4 weeks apart.

    I haven’t done that myself.

    Milbemite Otic is supposed to be effective if you just push it in there on top of gunk with no ear-cleaning. My experience with that has been that it does work sometimes. It also sometimes doesn’t work and then I have to do some kind of follow-up. If ears are not full of crud, it usually works with one treatment.

  161. Sen says:

    We rescued a kitten who’s now about 8 months old. Early on, we saw itching and (ignorantly) assumed fleas and gave him baths. But on his first appointment with the vet, he was diagnosed with ear mites. We were sent home with one month’s worth of Revolution and told to come back for a second month’s dose, which we did. Other than that, nothing else was done by the vet (no ear cleaning or extra treatment), even though we did ask her if she could clean them. All in all, I was generally dissatisfied with both of our visits. Now, sure enough, after two months of Revolution the ear mites are still there and he’s beginning to lose small patches of fur from scratching. We read online that olive oil smothers the ear mites so we’ve begun daily ear cleanings with it at home as it’s the only thing we can think to do to alleviate his short-term suffering. But is this true? Could olive oil be effective on it’s own? Now due to schedule changes at work, it’s going to be much harder to get him in (working graveyards), added to the fact that we weren’t really pleased with his treatment and will need to seek out a new vet. Is there anything we can do for him in the meantime that might stand a chance at curing it?

  162. Doc says:

    Hello, Sen,
    Most over the counter ear mite remedies contain only insecticides, so if you have secondary infections, they may not work so well. Plain insectcides need to be used daily for 21 days.

    Olive oil would provide nutrients for bacteria, so I’m not crazy about that idea. Plain mineral oil placed in the ears will soften up the debris so that the cat can shake it out. Then your other meds will work better.
    I wouldn’t count on the oil killing anything. It might drive the mites (not their eggs) out on to the skin around the ear temporarily.

  163. nikole says:

    I know this is an old thread, but I was hoping you could answer my question related to the use of Tresaderm. My vet prescribed 3 drops in both ears daily. Because I’m treating my new pup that squirms and is difficult to apply drops in the first place, we have been putting a couple additional drops in each ear just in case. Well after reading something about this drug I feel horrible because it says incorrect use can cause ear damage and hearing loss. I’ve been treating him for about a week now, basically doubling the vet’s dosage for most of the time. I have definitely learned my lesson, but I was just wondering, is there a chance I could have damaged my pup’s ears???

  164. Doc says:

    Hello, Nikole,

    Virtually any ear preparation has the potential to cause a problem, especially if the eardrum is not intact. They rarely do so.

    I suspect you are not actually getting an excessive amount into the ears, as you describe your puppy.

    I think the chances that you have created a problem approach zero.

  165. Jecca says:

    My 18 year old cat had a very smelly infection so we took her in. They swabbed then gave her an antibiotic shot and a paste in her ear. Wanted a recheck in 2 weeks. We took her back a week and a half later and got another paste. A week later she had cut open her ear and it was bleeding pretty badly and was starting to smell again so we took her back and they said she had ear mites. This was on February 8th. They prescribed tresaderm. The bottle says “Put several drops into both ears every 12 hours until recheck.” They want to recheck in 3 weeks! That seems like a long treatment. Should I really go the 18 days? (I’m taking her in on February 26th.)

  166. Doc says:

    Hello, Jecca,
    Sorry to be so late replying to you.

    Tresaderm has cortisone to relieve the irritation and shrink the swelling in the ears, an antibacterial, and an antifungal drug that not only helps with secondary yeast infections, but also kills the mites.

    The reason for the prolonged treatment is that you have mite eggs hatching out all the time, so you want to kill them as they hatch. They all should be hatched in 10 days, but some of them don’t read the book and take longer.

    Also, if you have had a long term infection, your doctor wants to be sure it is controlled before stopping treatment.

    After treatment, he/she may recommend some ear cleanser drops for weekly use while the ears are continuing to heal. It will depend on what he/she is seeing there.

  167. Katie Melhus says:

    Hi 🙂

    Can you tell me how to collect a sample from my cat’s ears to examine under the microscope? I work in a (human) clinic lab, and looked at a sample of my cat’s brown debris from her ears, but saw no mites. I would love to know your collection method to get a good specimen. Thanks!

  168. Doc says:

    Hello, Katie,

    I just use a cotton swab. I make a dry smear on the slide, heat-fix it and stain to look for yeast organisms (they look like little bowling pins, sort of, as they are budding, usually) and bacteria.

    Then I put a couple of drops of mineral oil on the slide, and roll the swab until the debris is in the oil. You might get a couple of swabs.

    Then examine under 10X objective (100X total) for the mites or their eggs. Look carefully. Sometimes all you find is one egg, or a mite leg.

  169. Samantha says:

    Hi, we have had our kitten for almost 3 weeks. She was a mess when she came to us with matted fur and fleas, we have eliminated these problems thankfully but after taking to get her vaccinations the vet got loads of wax out of her ears and behind all the wax was mites, taking out the wax caused an itching frenzy which she has now passed on to my dog. They are on day 5 of canaural and have had a borderline spot on but it seems the itching is only getting worse. I’m cleaning their ears morningvand night and adding coconut oil it sooth the itch. My stress levels are going through the roof. I have 3 children under 3 years and keeping them at arms length of their much loved pets is proving impossible, I’m very concerned this is going to turn into a never ending problem. What else can I do to help get rid of the mites and should I be concerned about my children’s health being around them. Thanks

  170. Doc says:

    Hello, Samantha,

    I have no experience with the product, but see that it is licensed for ear mite treatment.

    I don’t know that cleaning the ears twice daily is going to be that helpful. You could repeat the Canaural, since it has prednisone. It sounds like you might be interfering with the medicine’s ability to work. You should ask your veterinarian about your treatment plan.

    There is no risk of the children getting ear mites.

  171. Doc says:

    Hello, Rick,

    The milbemite itself won’t bother the other animals.

    Within 24 hours after applying the milbemite, the cat shouldn’t be contagious to the other animals.

  172. Cynthia Sorensen says:

    Hello, I have treated my femal cat with capstar, Tresaderm and revolution. Two weeks are up with Tresaderm, however, she still has the eamites. Ears are clean, I vacuum every where and also hat the carpet steam cleaned. I know she still has them because whe she rub up against my leg I feel the bits. I have also given her a flea bath. What is going on! HELP. I’m tired if scratching as well

  173. Doc says:

    Hello, Cynthia,

    You say you feel the bites. The ear mites are within the ear canal, and you cannot feel them.

    I am suspicious that your cat has developed an allergy to the flea bites (or perhaps to something else in the environment).

    The only thing that I can think of you that might be feeling would be little scabs from the cat self-traumatizing itself.

    It is possible that your cat would benefit from treatment for allergic reaction. Not having seen the cat, I cannot really evaluate things, but I think this is worth discussing with your veterinarian.

  174. Diane says:

    Hi, my new puppy has ear mites. The vet’s technician cleaned her ears with long qtips put advantage multi on her and told me to re apply in one month for a total of 3 treatment. She did not give me anything to put in the ear nor did she instruct me in cleaning the ears. My question is should she have?

  175. Doc says:

    Hello, Diane,

    The moxidectin in Advantage Multi does go systemic, so there may be enough winding up in the ear wax to kill ear mites. The selamectin in Revolution works that way.

    My experience has been that if there is minimal damage and no secondary infection, the treatment you have received may work very well.

    I often have to use topical treatment for 10 days in more diseased ears, as the systemic doesn’t get the job done. However, the systemic (Advantage Multi or Revolution) should be good for follow-up treatment of any late-hatching mites.

  176. Noel Getmann says:

    Hopefully someone will read this:)
    Just three questions! I’m adopting an outdoor domesticated, stray cat. He has some ear mites and a yeast infection. So the vet cleaned out his ears really well and gave me the trasaderm drops. I have two other indoor cats. I will be keeping this one indoors as well. But for now, I am keeping him outside until he is off his meds and isn’t contagious. I gave him Avecta II two days ago and the vet gave him that routine shot today as well. My question is; they said for me to use the transderm 2x a day, four drops in each ear, each time for 10-14 days.
    Is that too much????

    Also I do not want him to give these mites to my other cats and I want to be certain of that before I bring him inside my house. I have to make sure he’s not contagious. So should I do the drops for the full 14 days…then one single dose on day 20 and one on day 30? Or apply drops for 10 days then single dose on the 20 & 30????

    Lastly, I am not using anything topical (he did have the flea treatment). But before I bring him inside -counting the days down until I can 🙂 -I will give him a bath. I noticed he has a lot of dandruff. I asked the vet if it was mites or walking dandruff she looked at me a little confused (which made me uneasy) but I said I pushed his fur around and nothing seemed to move but wanted her to double check. She said his fur is ok (hope she’s right). I am taking him to a self wash, pet wash the day after he’s off his meds. Should I buy special parasite shampoo or use their shampoo???
    I’m just concerned applying parasite shampoo when I gave him advecta. But want to help his bad dandruff.

    Oh sorry one last question! I forgot to have him tested for worms. Is it safe to give him a worm pill just to be safe or not a good idea?

    Thank you so much for any help and time!!

  177. Doc says:

    Hello, Noel,

    I would suppose that they have recommended twice daily dosing because of the yeast infection and more inflammation than usual. It is fine to treat twice daily as they have recommended.

    If the cat is doing well after a few days, then 10 rather 14 is probably okay, with the follow up on day 20 and day 30, just to be on the safe side. You want to do the initial treatment until the cat is feeling well, and a few days after, with a 10-day minimum.

    You should obtain de-wormer from your veterinarian, rather than over the counter, to be safe. It shouldn’t be a problem.

    The ingredients in Avecta are pretty non-toxic. This is a generic equivalent of Advantage. It is not very bath-resistant. Bayer says that a good bathing with shampoo will remove half of it. I wouldn’t be worried about toxicity with the bath, but realize that you are going to reduce the effectiveness of the Avecta.

  178. ShereenUSA says:

    I was treating my roommate’s cat for earmites a few days ago, and my right ear has been bothering me since.
    Can I get earmites from the cat? If so, are people known to get rid of them the same way, with the same medications?

  179. Doc says:

    Hello, Shereen,

    If you have contracted ear mites from the cat, it would be a first. Maybe you’ll be famous. Probably not, though.

    The mites don’t really live off the animal in the environment. Even for the animals to catch them, it requires direct body contact with the infected areas.

    If you have ear problems you should see your doctor. Don’t put ear mite medicine in your ear.

  180. Mandy Higgins says:

    I’ve had a partial bottle of Tresaderm in my frig for many years and I’m wondering if it is likely still good? How long would you expect the ingredients to last if it has always been refrigerated, and, which of the three main ingredients would you expect to degenerate the quickest, if any? Thanks!

  181. Doc says:

    Hello, Mandy,

    I’m not sure if anybody has really studied that. It is the thiabendazole that kills the mites.

    I looked at the bottles I purchased most recently, and they are only dated until June of 2020.

    I don’t think that anyone keeps testing year after year to see if the stuff is still good. They are required by law to put an expiration date on it, and I think the usual procedure is to test it at what they feel is a reasonable shelf life. After that, they just don’t check it. There’s no financial return in that testing.

    I have I.V. fluids that are sterile, and double packaged and sealed and they have expiration dates, even though they are basically just salt and water, which cannot “go bad”. You could have some concerns about sterility, but I wouldn’t have any qualms about using saline solution that was out of date.

    Although, if it were “many years” out of date, I probably wouldn’t use it.

    I doubt that your Tresaderm would harm the cat, but it is likely to be less effective.

  182. Kerry B says:

    Hello. My adult cat received his first treatment of MilbeMite Otic Solution for his ear mites today. I was sent home from the vet with a second treatment. How long should I wait before giving the second treatment?

  183. Doc says:

    Check with your veterinarian. While some cats get totally clear with one treatment, I have certainly had to re-treat some of them. 10 to 14 days after the first treatment would be my recommendation, but you really should check with the doctor who has seen your cat.

  184. Barbara says:

    My cat is a rescued cat & probably has had ear mites for at least 6 months. How? Should i get the black goop out of her ear canal before starting Tresaderm? My vet said she has not treated ear mites before.
    Thank you.

  185. Doc says:

    Hello, Barbara,

    I am very surprised that your doctor has not treated ear mites before. They are such a common problem.

    Yes, the ears should be cleaned first. If it is ear mites, the debris should be easily removed. Instill a few drops of mineral oil in the ear and massage it to spread. The cat will shake out the junk. This should be done daily until the ear looks clean. Then start the Tresaderm.

    If the oil is not removing the debris, your veterinarian may need to use a special ear cleanser.

    Putting Tresaderm in on top of the goop will not be helpful.

  186. Kelly says:

    Hi! Your site is so informative and I read through many comments! My 10 week kitten has earmites and my vet prescribed me Tresaderm, which I used for 7 days 2x a day, 2-3 drops each time. Its been six days since the last time I gave him Tresaderm, and I noticed new debris and brown stuff (I’m assuming dried blood) again in the ears. I was considering using Tresaderm again after 10 days. Should I use it for 7 days? Or just once on day 10, and once again on day 20? Thank you!

  187. Doc says:

    Hello, Kelly,

    You should check in with the doctor who has actually seen your cat.

    Generally speaking (without having seen your cat), if your kitten has a lot of debris, I would consider putting a few drops of mineral oil in the ears daily to loosen the waxy junk. Do this until the debris has been shaken out and ears are looking pretty clean.

    Then I would skip a couple of days, then use the Tresaderm every 10 days for a while.

    It is unlikely that you will need it for 7 days each time.

    If your cat is having discomfort, you should take him back in for a recheck.

  188. Natalie says:

    My cat has earmites. I’ve been treating her with drops of coconut oil .its been three weeks. I’m hoping it clears up after week four. It is better but she itches sometimes, frustrating me. I clean them daily. Pull out some greatgrandaddy mitepoops!!! Yuckkkk! I’m very poor, can’t afford much. Is mite med available to buy over counter,,thank you. What should I do?

      • Doc says:

        Hello, Natalie, If your cat isn’t too hard to medicate, you can use mineral oil. You use a dropper to fill the canal with the oil, and it suffocates the mites. You will need to use it daily for about three weeks. I don’t think the coconut oil will work. Mineral oil is not toxic at all.
        If this is nothing but ear mites, you should be okay. However, the only way that you catch ear mites is by direct contact with an infected animal. If your cat hasn’t had contact with other cats, there might be some other type of infection, rather than ear mites. In that case, you have to determine the type of micro-organism present, clean the ear thoroughly, and treat with the appropriate medicine. Without a microscopic examination of the crud from the ear canal, we don’t know what is causing the problem.

  189. LeAnn says:

    Hello. My 15 week old kitten was perfectly fine and healthy this morn other than ear mites. I took her to the vet who cleaned her ears. He even commented on how sweet she was and in good health. She cried all the way home. 30 min later she started coughing, snorting, lethargic and sounds hoarse. I am so upset and worried. How did she decline so fast. Again she had been 100% fine. Thank you

    • Doc says:

      Hello, LeAnn, I don’t have a good explanation for you. I cans speculate that her eardrums weren’t intact and some of the cleanser made its way into her throat, but that seems unlikely. First of all, ear mites just don’t usually damage the eardrum. If cleanser had gotten all the way through, you would almost certainly see signs of middle ear disease with balance problems, so this seems unlikely.

      It is very unusual for a respiratory infection to have such a dramatic onset. It almost sounds like she got choked on something.

      I hope she has improved. If not, I am sure that your veterinarian would want to know what happened.

  190. April says:

    I read online that you can use vinegar mix half and half with water to flush out the cats ears. Is this recommended if I dont have mineral oil or until Im able to get mineral oil? Thanks

    • Doc says:

      Hello, April,

      Vinegar is acidic, which inhibits the growth of yeast and bacteria. If you have a sore ear, however, that will really burn.

      I personally wouldn’t recommend it for any ear that is painful already.

      • April Leasa says:

        Thank you for your reply! Ok so the reason I asked is because originally a pet shop/clinic sold us an ear mite medicine by the brand name four paws ear mite treatment. The active ingredients are Pyrethrins 0.05% and Piperonyl Butoxide 0.50% which is Butylcarbityl 6-propylpiperonyl ether and related compounds it says. And for the remaining 99.45% it just says other ingredients.
        We gave it to our 10 month old 5 days straight then a week later another 5. And then stopped using it. He has had very watery diarrhea it seems about when we started the ear meds up until now and continuing. Im not sure if this is what its from. I am going to make a vet appt. Hes eating and drinking and everything else seems fine except hes acting a little off. Not himself. I just wanted to know if this kind of medicine is very harmful for cats? My son looked it up and said it causes nerve damage.
        Thanks again for the time you put in helping all of us with our concerns and questions!

        • Doc says:

          Hello, April,
          I think that as long as the eardrum is intact and the medication is not ingested, this should be safe to use. I would be very surprised if there is any relationship to the diarrhea.

          As for nerve damage, if the eardrum is not intact, virtually anything can damage the inner ear (even saline solution).

  191. Marje says:

    When my beloved dog died from cancer (10 yrs old) I took in two cats that I fed for 5 yrs. My son got them to a vet and neutered. They never said they had mites . Got them to vet for exam but the one went nuts scratching the handler who gave them back saying no vet can do anything with wild cats , good luck with that. They let us pet them but won’t hold for treatment. I am so sad for them itching all the time. Should I try Revolution. My son can get that on the skin. No chance we can put anything in their ears. Any advice is much appreciated. You are wonderful to help with this blog.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Marje,
      Revolution may do well for you. I have better luck with it as a follow-up than I do as a primary treatment if the ears are full of crud. In a case like this, I would probably sedate the cats, clean the ears while sedated, and then apply Milbemite otic, which is a one-dose treatment for ear mites.

      I would follow up with the revolution.

      If you can’t do anything else, then treating with Revolution two weeks apart will probably work better for ear mites than every 4 weeks. You need to get it directly on the skin, underneath the hair. We apply it between the shoulders or on the back of the neck, so that the cat can’t turn around and lick it.

  192. Jim says:

    Hi Doc,
    Is there a way to get Tresaderm with out a prescription? Or is there a comparable over the counter option? We take care of a large group of ferrel cats. Alot of them stay together and as a result multiple have gotten earmites. We take care of them on our own, we are not a non profit or anything. We just do what we can to try and make sure they are taken care of. Since we are individuals the vets around here want us to bring them all in to be checked before they will do anything. The logistics and cost of taking 20 cats to a local vet are not something we can readily do but we really need to find a way to get their ears treated.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Jim,
      Tresaderm is a prescription medication as far as I know, so no. OTC products are usually mineral oil with some insecticide added. With cats they often have ear mites without any secondary infections, so that often works. They work better if you pre-treat by filling the ear canals with mineral oil, massage, let the cat shake out the debris. I’d repeat that at least once.

  193. Elizabeth says:

    Hi I just recently took my new cat to the vet who had ear mites. By recently I mean 12 hours ago. They just started to irate her that day(yesterday). How much of a chance could it have been for her to give it to my other cat? And the vet used revolution or something like that so how long until I can let the cats play again?

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Elizabeth,

      Even thought this cat just began to show signs of irritation, she could certainly have already transmitted it to the other cats. It does usually require direct contact (not just sharing the environment). If it were me, I would use Revolution or Advantage Multi on all the cats once, while treating the clinically affected cat now. Depending on what treatment is used, I would expect her to stop being contagious in just a few days, but the other cats are likely already exposed.

      • Andrea M says:

        I have a 13 year young cat, I say that because at 13, she acts like a kitten. She (Ruby) is a feral kitten/cat my husband found on the side of the road. We took her to the vet and was told she was about a week old. She could barely get around on her little shaky legs and had to be dropper fed til she could eat wet kitten pate. She is spayed, de-clawed and a completely indoor cat. After 13 years, she still has feral behavior – can’t pick her up unless you appear to not to be able to do so. She loves to be petted, on her terms, you sitting and her standing on the floor and only with 1 hand (she needs to see the other hand before she gets close enough for petting). She has always been this way, we hoped over the years she would check out our laps, which has never happened. She is very petite (3 lbs) and runs too fast to catch. She has never been mistreated. From past experience with our other cats, I feel safe in saying she definitely has ear mites and (even without claws) is scratching herself bald itching her ears. So, after her history, my question is, is there any otc topical medication that we can use to treat her ears with a single application? If we take her to the vet, she will be forever traumatized, so we are trying to help her without going that route. She would need to be heavily sedated to get her past our front door to take her to the vet. In lieu of a topical to be applied, is there an otc sedative available to visit the vet. We have a bunch of leftover trazadone from a surgical procedure one of our dogs had. They are 100mg. If it can be used, about how much could a 3lb cat take? If that is not recommended, then the question would be the single dose topical. Help!!! We need to get her treatment right away, before she itches her head off. I know we are the adults, and she is our baby, but we don’t know what to do without shaking up her little world. Thank you doctor for any ideas you could share.

        • Doc says:

          Hello, Andrea,
          You might have ear mites, but I doubt it. Ear mites are transmitted by direct contact with an infected individual. With a cat who has been totally inside for more than a decade, I can’t imagine how she would have been exposed.

          This suggests that there is some other cause for the ear problems. The ears really should be examined, and it sounds like sedation will be required.

          Trazodone can be used in cats, though gabapentin is prescribed more often. I cannot recommend doses for a patient I have not seen.

          Feliway spray and collars can help a lot of cats calm down.

          You will need to talk to your veterinarian about the best way to handle the sedation aspect of this, but I really think that the ears should be examined.

  194. Ally says:

    Hobbs(we just received him a week ago- he is 2 years old) has mites, I didn’t realize theres a open wound in his ear and I already but some baby oil in his ear. He keep meowing, itching and rubbing his head (I know most are as usual) but the baby oil will it cause damage to his hearing? I didn’t know his ears were this bad

    • Doc says:


      I don’t think the baby oil would damage his hearing as long as his eardrum was intact. Baby oil has some perfume in it and that might be causing some irritation (versus plain mineral oil).

  195. Jillian says:

    I told the vet my dog has been itching her ears constantly for the last 24 hours. We did give frontline yesterday before this came about. She has a little pus coming from the area where I think the mites are. She’s miserable and vet says they will see her Tuesday it’s Thursday today. She told me not to do anything at home it could make it worse, but I can’t let my dog suffer like this. Should I find another vet or is there something I can do from home? Thanks

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Jillian,

      Mites crawl around and chew on the lining of the ear canal. Th e debris they produce is usually either dry and crusty or dark and waxy. If you see pus coming from the ear canal, there is something else going on. The problem with home treatment of ear infections is that you can really make them worse. If you want to rinse them out, I would use warm saline solution (like you would use to rinse your eye). Don’t use anything with alcohol in it, don’t use any oil. A warm compress applied to the outside of the ear may give some relief. You do need to see your veterinarian.

  196. Laura says:

    hi Doc!

    my kitten Walter is 10 months old and has has ear mites multiple times. He would be given a one-time treatment at the vet, and would need to go back 2 weeks later. Finally he seemed healed of them. But I notice now the issue has returned, months later, but this time only his left ear seems to have mites again. Is it normal? Is the reoccurrence of mites this often within a 6 month period concerning?

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Laura,
      Ear mites are contracted by direct contact with an infected animal (cat, dog, rabbit). If I were having recurring problems like this, I would put the cat on Revolution (selamectin). This product is applied topically, and absorbed into the skin. It circulates in the bloodstream, and is then excreted via the skin oil glands around the hair shafts. In the skin oils, it provides protection against fleas. It is also secreted in the ear wax, and will prevent ear mite infestation if the cat is re-exposed. You will probably still need to treat the present infestation as you have done in the past, but the Revolution will keep you from having future problems.

  197. Virginia Dominguez says:

    Unfortunately I find that my cat gets reinfested with earmites repeatedly even though he gets his Revolution monthly.???? I use tresaderm because it’s the only medication my vet rx’s for earmites. The problem with this is that my cat fights me with the 2x’s per day and 14 day required treatment . This is much too lengthy and too stressful for my cat and I have 4 more that are outdoor only and he gets reinfested repeatedly from them. Worst part is he sleeps with me at night and scratches his ears all night.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Virginia,
      I am surprised that you are having this problem with the Revolution being given monthly (and I am sure you are giving the appropriate size dose for your cat). Bayer says Advantage Multi for cats is good for this prevention also, though I haven’t used it much, having always had good results with Revolution.
      You might ask your veterinarian about Milbemite Otic. It’s not a preventive, but it’s a one-dose treatment for infestations that has worked really well for me. It’s about the same cost as a bottle of Tresaderm. It doesn’t have any anti-inflammatory or anti-yeast properties like the Tresaderm, but good on the mites.

  198. Amy says:

    I found out today my kitten has ear mites. My Vet put a solution in the ear to soften up the debris and cleaned out most of it, then he administered Revolution onto the kittens skin. I’m supposed to readminister the revolution on his skin in 2 weeks and then another dose 1 week after that. Should I try to clean my kitten’s ear I’m between or leave him be? Also, can I get ear mites? I’ve read the can live days without a host and I frequently had my kitten on my bed.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Amy,
      It is unheard of for a person to catch ear mites. I doubt that you need to do any further ear cleaning, but ask your veterinarian what he recommends.

  199. Sharon says:

    We rescued a 5 month old cat and we found out that she has ear mites. They gave me Otomite Plus to apply to her ears once or twice per week for 2 weeks. I forgot to clean her ears before I treated her. How should I clean her ears? They said we could treat our other cat as well. She didn’t have anything on the outer part of her ear that indicated she had them, but we treated her anyway. We brought our dog to the vet and she doesn’t have them. I have my cat quarantine in the bathroom, but she is miserable. Do you think this treatment is enough and how long do you think we should keep her quarantined?

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Sharon,
      It is safe to put a dropper of mineral oil in the ear canal. You fill the canal, massage it to loosen the debris, and let the cat shake out the crud. I would do that for two days. Once you begin using the Otomite regularly, the cat shouldn’t continue to be contagious. It’s a good idea to do flea control as well. Sometimes the mites are outside the ear for a while and keeping flea control going should eliminate that.

  200. Kristina Beck says:

    One of my cats ears repeatedly builds black buildup, I got a ear mite medication from Amazon that has pyrethrin and piperonyl as the active ingredients. After one use his ear turned red so I stopped but it seemed to temporarily work. But the black stuff is back,
    My question is are these ingredients safe? I’m planning on going to the vet if I can’t use this medication.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Kristina,
      While I would ordinarily consider those ingredients safe, it would be possible for a cat to be hyper-sensitive to them. Ear mites are only acquired by direct contact with an infected individual. If none of your cats are going outside, then I would be concerned that there is a different cause, and you definitely need to see your veterinarian. IF it is ear mites, then something like Tresaderm is less likely to be irritating.

  201. Patricia Fanson says:

    Hi there, I have a feral cat who lives in my neighborhood, we have many, I have never noticed him up close before but he came to eat tonight and he has cauliflower ear on both sides. Does that certainly mean ear mites? I plan on trapping him and sending him to rescue as soon as possible.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Patricia,
      The cauliflower ear is usually the end result of an aural hematoma that has healed with a lot of scarring. Aural hematomas can result from ear trauma. A cat might scratch or shake hard enough to do this with ear mites, but that is exceedingly rare. They can also have an immune-mediated vasculitis, where the body’s own defenses are haywire and attack the blood vessels in the ear flap.
      It is certainly common for feral cats to have ear mites.

  202. Courtney says:

    Hello! Your blog was extremely informative. My poor kitten had quite severe ear mites. I spoke with the vet on the phone before he went into his appointment and she advised Revolution. I knew from your blog it’s better as a follow up treatment. When he came out of his appointment they informed me his infection WAS quite bad so they also prescribed Surolan. My question is, at what point (how many days) am I supposed to apply the revolution as a follow up? They made it seem as though I should be using both Surolan and Revolution at the same time..?
    Also, this is random but I’m now paranoid. I cracked open the Revolution blister pack to see how many tubes were inside (just 1) but now I’m nervous I’ve tampered with it’s effectiveness by opening the blister pack?
    Thanks so much for your help!

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Courtney,
      It will be fine to use the Revolution and Surolan simultaneously. Go ahead.

      The blister pack is to protect the tube. It should be fine until you actually puncture the tube with the cap.

  203. Laura Grusczynski says:

    This Q&A was extremely informative. My cat is a little over a year and doesn’t go outside. She had ear mites a year ago and was just diagnosed again. She has not had contact with any animals in months. Where could the mites be coming from? Any possibility that I am the transfer agent as I do see other animals?

  204. Brianna says:

    Thanks for the great information! I have two kitties, Mojo & Jocko, about 8 weeks old. I made a vet appointment because my boyfriend and I were concerned about fleas or mites or ringworm- his english bulldog had ear mites but we’re easily distinguished with some drops. Right before my vet appt, my kitties began losing patches of hair on their tails! Poor Mojo’s was worse, she would leave trails of blood on the floor. The vet game the dewormer and revolution but seemed to ignore my concern, he said “they probably play rough, we’ll give them treatment in case” which relieved me but it got worse after the appt, I was finding more patches of hair on the floor and decided to observe them, they ARE indeed chewing on their own tails. I got some itching spray and ear mite drops and the spray seems to help the raw flesh. I believe they do have ear mites, their ears appear as described. I bought more ear mite treatment to use periodically, but the package says do not use on cars less than 12 weeks and my kitties are about 8… is it safe to use the treatment on my kitties if I calculate the right dosage based on their weight? I really want to kick this problem! Thanks in advance!

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Brianna,
      I don’t think I would ignore the medication instructions. If the kittens are having ear mites Revolution is a safe product to use in helping to control the mites. It is absorbed into the skin transdermally, and then gets excreted in the skin oils, including the ear wax. So it should prevent the mites from infesting other parts of the body (even though that’s unusual). Tresaderm is safe to use in the ears in even very young cats. It is also anti-fungal and has some cortisone to help control the itching. You can use it topically on the skin, too.

  205. Trisha says:

    Thank you so much for this blog. This is the only one I read that is very insightful and helpful. The only thing that I would of liked to see more is the mention of how much cleaning their bedding and anywhere else they lay, is so important also. If you treat the cat but not their bedding, your defeating your purr-pouse. It’s very important to do this. But thank you so much for explaining this in the best detail I’ve seen yet. Much respect and appreciation. I’ve got 1 cat and just found a mama and three kittens under my house. I’m overwhelmed with ear mites right now, and had no clue why the treatments weren’t working, as I just bought over the counter meds to no avail. After reading this, I now will go purchase something better. I’ve been battling this for so long I want to cry for them having to deal with this. The kittens are still wild so I don’t know what to do. I can’t catch them to treat them and they just keep reinfecting my cat. I also can’t get under the house to treat their beds. I’m frustrated as all hell and very sad for them all. I don’t have much money to keep spending on this. I have no clue how to remedy this situation. But thank you for this information.

  206. Georgette says:

    Hi Doc,

    We just brought in a stray cat and she is in her own room with a wall of baby gates. Got to see the vet today, and she has ear mites. He gave her revolution and I should clean her ears daily.
    Question is, how long should she stay in her own room before I let her around the other cats?
    Can I be transferring ear mites outside the room and infecting the other critters in the house?

    Thanks for all your responses above, these were the only questions I couldn’t find answers too 🙂

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Georgette,
      You wouldn’t be carrying mites from one room to another on your clothes or shoes.

      The Revolution should be active in her ears within 48 hours, and stop the shedding.

      Having said that, I have had patients that didn’t clear with Revolution. It might be a good idea to let your veterinarian recheck the ears before you mix her in with the other cats.

  207. Angel says:

    I have 2 cats one is 3 1/2 years old the younger one is over one year old. I got the younger one as a kitten and right away I noticed that his ears inside were not pink. They were black and crusty. Right away I got on the internet and found out that was ear mites. It was recommended that I start putting oils in his ears such as mineral oil to olive oil.
    I was doing this every day to every other day. The problem
    I have is that I also found that my older cat has them too. So I was treating both of them with the treatment. However, they make it difficult for me because they run from and even hide. When I catch them, they resist and squirm. I try to put in two drops in each ear and try to keep them cleaned but it is not easy. Since then
    I have taken them to a Veternarian. The Vet prescribed Tresaderm and revolution, however it seems that all the Vet did was diagnosed them. Their ears were not cleaned. So I had to administer the treatments myself. I see some improvement in the older cat but the younger one is still the same. The vet said I should take them in 3 weeks to confirm if the mites are gone. That Vet visit cost me $414.00. I am on a fixed income and I can not afford to pay such high payments to a Vet. Can you recommend anything I can do? Thank you.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Angel,
      I’d skip the olive oil, as it can become rancid and support growth of bacteria. Mineral oil is inert. If you had already been using the mineral oil, most cats would have shaken out most of the debris loosened by the oil. I personally use Tresaderm once daily for 10 days, then follow up once on day 20 and day 30. If you have added Revolution, that ought to take care of any follow-up. I am optimistic that you will have good results.

  208. KL says:

    My 4 year old shelter cat was just adopted a few months ago we noticed she had very dirty ears and it turned out to be ear mites at the vet check. She was prescribed these –
    1. Cluve – ear cleaner applied on q-tips
    2. Surolan – which contains ketoconazole, polymyxin b, prednisolone
    3. Advocate spot on flea treatment for any possible flea and mite infestation

    We tried our best to clean her ears this way and medicate her but the infestation still hasn’t left and is only getting worse she even has wounds now due to scratching, what would you suggest? I have seen some votes for mineral oil usage would that be sufficient or does she need anything else?

    • Doc says:

      Hello, KL,
      The treatments that have been prescribed should have not only killed the ear mites, but cleared up any secondary infection. When the pet doesn’t respond to treatment as expected, it should be re-evaluated by your veterinarian. Some cats have polyps (small growths) in the ear canal that can complicate the situation. In any case, there has to be something else going on besides just ear mites if you are still having problems.

  209. Jennifer says:

    We adopted a 8 month old kitten in March from a rescue. He appeared to be healthy , however, upon looking at his ears one day I noticed all this smelly brownish goop in it. Also he was constantly scratching. He did not appear to have any fleas. I looked it up and saw that he probably had ear mites. I got some hearts mite killer and put it in his ears but it seems he shook it all out. I cleaned his ears out with ear wipes. A few days later he was still scratching his ears. I then bought some Sentry ear mite meds. I cleaned his ears again with the wipes and put the med in his ears. Once again he shook most of it out. He was constantly digging and scratching at his head, neck, and body. So I read that the mites can also be on the cats body. I took him to the vet yesterday and they saw mite eggs in his ears but no live mites in them. They cleaned his ears and I opted for Revolution. He’s still digging and scratching. I washed all his bedding, wiped all the leather furniture down with lysol wipes, and his toys, vacuumed all the carpet and floors. My question is with this be enough to treat the mites. I cannot see them but it seems he has them all over him Is this possible? Will the revolution kill them? Do I need to put flea powder on the carpet also? I feel so bad for this poor kitty because I know he’s miserable. Is it possible that we could have caught these mites? Thank you for your time concerning this matter.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Jennifer,
      There are no recorded cases of people catching ear mites from a pet.
      You don’t need to treat the carpet. They can’t live off the animal for more than a day.
      Revolution is first absorbed into the skin. Then it is excreted in the skin oils, including ear wax, so it’s all over the body. It kills fleas and it does kill ear mites. I have seen successful treatment with Revolution alone, provided there were no complicating factors.
      That being said, I also like to treat the ear canals directly with Revolution as my backup.
      If there were eggs in the material from his ears, then there was still an active ear mite infection. That’s good enough for a diagnosis.
      I like Milbemite Otic as a “one-shot”treatment for ear mites. The manufacturer says you don’t even need to clean the ears first. I have had some success that way, but feel that I get more consistent results if I clean the debris from the first.
      I also like Tresaderm because it will clear up secondary yeast infections (very common with mites), and it has cortisone in it to relive the pet’s itching.

  210. Rick H says:

    I accidentally mistaked the cats ear mite medicine for the dogs flea treatment. I have wiped it off the dogs back and rinsed with water and no rinse shampoo. There doesnt seem to be any reaction to it. Hope it is OK. Uhgggg, those tubes look so similar

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Rick,
      I wouldn’t anticipate any problems with that. Dogs are much more tolerant of those chemicals than cats are. You would be much more likely to have problems using a dog product on a cat.

  211. E Williams says:

    Will olive oil put in cat’s ears kill ear mites? If so how many days should it be used? Thanks for a reply.

    • Doc says:

      If you are going to use oil, I would recommend something that cannot serve as a food source for bacteria or yeast. Plain mineral oil would be preferable. It will take daily use for at least 14 days. It will not clear up the secondary infections that may accompany ear mites. Putting anything in the ear can damage hearing and balance if the eardrum is not intact.

  212. Melissa Z says:

    My golden retriever has been battling ear mites I feel like for a most a year. We were prescribed tresaderm but I feel like it real didn’t do any good. I Have to clean her ears out ever day other wise they are gross. We clean the once a day every evening. Most of the time the bady wipe is black. I am open to any suggestions in how to get ride of these stupid ear mites once and for all! We are desperate!

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Melissa,
      Sometimes we do see the ear mites harboring outside the ear and providing a source of reinfestation. I have also been told that animals who sleep with their tail curled around them might have them on the tip of the tail (though I think this is just speculation).

      I would add one of the isoxazoline tick and flea meds, as these are toxic to mites – Credelio, Nexgard, Simparica, Bravecto, etc.

      I would also get the ears rechecked to be sure that you are really still dealing with mites instead of an ear infection. The ears would then need a thorough cleaning (flushing with ear cleanser) and using an otoscope to verify that the debris has been removed. Then you can be more successful with treatment.

  213. Olivia says:


    Hello! This post is very informative amd the comments have been helpful as well. I’ve had cats all my life and never had to deal with ear mites till now. I took in a rescue kitten and come to find out after I noticed her scratching a lot that she has ear mites.

    My vet cleaned her ears then applied Revolution and prescribed Trasederm, 5 drops in each ear twice a day for 7 days.

    I am praying this clears up the problem because my OCD is causing me to freak out after Googling way to much.

    My question is what are your suggestions for cleaning the house and carpeting? The kitten has been isolated to the bathroom since being brought home because I have a resident cat and was trying do do a slow introduction. So I am very glad they have not interacted at all.

    For a change of scenery I allowed her to go in our guest room a few times before I knew she had mites. But that room has stayed closed off from my resident cat because the kitten presented with a URI on Day 2 of having her.

    My vet suggested washing the bedding in case she climbed in the bed and vacuuming the carpets and that should do it. But the internet makes it sound scary, like vacuuming really does nothing and now and I feel like these invaders are just crawling all over my house and it’s stressing me out.

    Please help! I want to burn the place down. Thank you so much.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Olivia,

      It is best to treat all the pets in the home, even if they aren’t showing clinical signs.

      The mites can live off the animal for short periods of time, but this is rarely a problem.

      If you are really worried about the environment, then treating the carpets or upholstered furniture with a product containing insecticides and insect growth regulators may be helpful. Anything that can go into a clothes dryer can be treated by using high dry heat for 30 minutes. If you want to wash it, be sure to do the dry heat first.

      There is no point in treating tile or wood floors that you can mop, nor in spraying around the baseboards, as you would for roaches.

  214. Becky says:

    My 4 cats and I are sharing scabies. My doctor has prescribed 5% permethrin cream for me, and all cats (each in isolation from the others) have started Revolution. One cat is isolated in my bedroom. I’m exhausted and would really like to sleep in my own bed (which said cat is also using). I’ve pulled all bedding and washed it. How long before I can safely go back to my own room without getting reinfected by my furball roommate?

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Becky,
      Anything that you can put in a clothes dryer should be put in on high dry heat for 30 minutes. That will kill a lot of stuff without having to use chemicals. Feline scabies is unusual, but the Revolution should take care of it. I would expect them to be non-contagious in just a few days. Animal scabies mites are not well adapted to human tissue, and are usually a self-limiting thing (gets well on its own in a few days), though very itchy.

  215. Maylene says:

    Hi, I just found out my kitten has ear mites. I think we have been living with them since December. How can I treat the sofa and the Mattres of beds? I already cleaned everything and applied medicine. But don’t now how to treat the things I can’t put inside the washer. Which product is effective? Please Help

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Maylene,
      The ear mites typically do not live off the patient for more than a few days in the environment. The key is to treat all the pets in the home, as they can pass the mites back and forth. One treats the ear infestation topically (cleaning the ears and using a preparation like Tresaderm), and it is a good idea to apply a topical treatment like Revolution or Advantage Multi that will kill any mites who are living outside the ears. Credelio (oral tablet, given with a meal) is effective for this, as well.

  216. Rachel says:

    Where can I find a veterinarian in Northeast Ga whose go to prescription for ear mites is either Tresaderm or Milebite Otic? How is this the first I’m hearing about these options?!

    Why are vets go to option an insecticide in an oily base or topical Revolution instead of what actually works?! I just don’t get it.

    I can’t do online prescription cause that’s not legal in this state. And I don’t want to go to every single in-person vet hoping I’ll eventually find one who knows what they’re doing in regards to ear mite treatment.

    I guess, I’ll have to call every single vet in the area, and ask what they’re go to prescription is for ear mite treatment. SMH.

    Any thoughts or advice, doc?

    Thank you.

    • Doc says:

      Hello, Rachel,
      The insecticide in oil often does work, if there are no complicating factors, like secondary ear infections. Plain mineral oil can work if you use it long enough, provided it’s nothing but ear mites. Combining that with Revolution should work pretty well.

      If it isn’t, then I’d be concerned about some other complicating factor besides just the ear mites. It’s also important to be sure that all the pets who are in contact are being treated. They will sure pass it back and forth.

  217. Albert says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say thanks so much for your informative post. I have severe anxiety that is triggered by certain things, one of them being my cats’ health. (I have three cats and two of them have ear mites.) They got it from my roommate’s cat, who is now cured. Thankfully, my roommate had leftover medicine (Otomite Plus) and gave it to me. My cats have never expressed discomfort like this before. The worst physically they’ve had is indigestion! I was very troubled and unprepared for when they caught this. The head shaking is normal for the condition I know, but not understanding what it was had been really freaking me out. This article was thorough and put my mind at ease. Thank you 🙂

  218. Kerry S says:

    Hi. I just treated my new cat with MilbeMite. She has been isolated in a room away from my other cat. my question is, how long do I need to keep the cats apart? She definitely is wanting to come out and explore the house.

      • Kerry S says:

        Thanks! Just had our first vet visit, no active mites in her ears so the Milbemite worked. She gave us some Zymox with hydrocortisone to put in her ears to help with the inflammation.

        • Doc says:

          Hello, Kerry,
          That’s great. We cannot get Tresaderm for an indefinite period of time, so I am having to work with substitutes in dogs. Milbemite doesn’t work in dogs.

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