Dog mites - symptoms, prevention & treatment

A mite infestation can cause severe irritation to the skin and ears of your dog. This condition, known as mange, can significantly impact your dog’s quality of life. Take a look at what you need to know about mites on dogs. 

What is a mite? 

Mites are tiny external parasites. Mites are closely related to ticks, although mites are much smaller, so much so that many species of mites are only visible with a microscope. To give you an idea of their relative size, if you scaled up a Demodex mite to the same size as a fully engorged paralysis tick, a paralysis tick scaled up by the same amount would be the size of a basketball! 

Different types of mites

The three mite species most commonly infesting dogs are Demodex mites, Sarcoptes mites and ear mites.


  • Sarcoptes mites: Pass easily from an infested dog to other in-contact dogs and cause an intensely itchy skin disease called sarcoptic mange. The mites can also be transmitted to humans.
  • Demodex mites: A typical inhabitant of a dog’s skin, which can cause skin disease if the immune system cannot control the mite population (e.g. in young or malnourished dogs). The skin disease that can result from Demodex mites in dogs is called demodectic mange. 
  • Ear mites: As their name suggests, ear mites inhabit the ear canals and surrounding skin. They can cause intense ear irritation and discomfort.

What does a mite look like? 

Demodex and Sarcoptes mites live within the skin and are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Ear mites are also so small that it’s unlikely you will be able to see them. Your vet can examine samples under the microscope to look for mites. The dog mite pictures below will give you an idea of what the three different mite species look like under the microscope. 

Sarcoptes mite
Sarcoptes mite


Sarcoptes mite


Ear Mite
Ear Mite


Ear Mite


Demodex mite
Demodex mite


Demodex mite


How do dogs get mites?

Mites are transferred by close contact with other infested animals. Sarcoptes mites and ear mites are easily transmitted from one infested animal to another. Transmission of Demodex mites is different. Almost all puppies acquire Demodex mites from their mother in the first week or so of life. Most dogs have Demodex mites in low numbers, with the mites kept in check by the immune system. 

Dog mite symptoms
Dog mite symptoms

Dog mites symptoms 

Mite symptoms will vary depending on the species of mite.

  • Demodex mites: Hair loss, skin thickening and skin infections.
  • Sarcoptes mites: Intense itching, hair loss, and skin infections.
  • Ear mites: Scratching around head and ears, head shaking, dark discharge and unpleasant odour from ears.

Many of the signs of mites in dogs can be caused by other skin conditions, such as allergic skin disease. So it is important to consult with your vet to confirm the diagnosis. 

Mite treatment for dogs 

So what is the best way to get rid of dog mites? There are many over the counter dog mite treatments and ear mite medications. Still, it is important to visit your vet if you suspect that your dog has mites so that your vet can confirm the diagnosis. Your vet can then advise on the best treatment options. Home remedies for mites on dogs may not be safe or effective, so it is best to use a registered product. NexGard® for Dogs and NexGard SPECTRA® for Dogsare highly effective options to treat mites on dogs. They treat and control Sarcoptes mites, Demodex mites and ear mites.

  • NexGard SPECTRA for Dogs: The most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, all in one tasty chew.
  • NexGard for Dogs : NexGard monthly chews are a great way to keep your dog protected from fleas, ticks and mites. 

Mites from dogs to humans 

The dog variety of the Sarcoptes mite can be transmitted to people, causing temporary dermatitis with intensely itchy skin lesions that can last for several weeks. Demodex mites and ear mites do not transmit from dogs to people.


  • What dog mite treatments are available over the counter? 
    NexGard for Dogs and NexGard SPECTRA for Dogs treat and control mites and are available over the counter. It is important to visit your vet if you suspect that your dog has mites so that the diagnosis can be confirmed. 

  • How do you get rid of mites in dogs? 
    It is best to consult your vet if you suspect your dog has mites so they can confirm the diagnosis by examining samples from your dog’s skin or ears.  NexGard for Dogs and NexGard SPECTRA for Dogs are highly effective at treating and controlling Sarcoptes mites, Demodex mites and ear mites in dogs



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