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Does Your Dog Have Ear Mites or Yeast Infections? Here’s How to Tell!

dog ears

Ear mites and yeast infections are extremely common problems for dogs, especially those with long floppy ears that hold dirt and moisture, creating a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and cause problems for your pet. If you think your pet is having an ear problem but aren’t sure how to tell if it’s ear mites or a yeast infection, you’ve come to the right place. We are about to provide you with a step-by-step guide for determining the problem and give you some tips on how to clear it up and prevent it from happening again to help you provide a better life for your pet.


How to tell if Your Dog Has Ear Mites or A Yeast Infection

Understand the Difference

The first thing you want to do when determining if your dog has ear mites or an ear infection is to understand the difference between the two. Ear mites are tiny insects that you can only see well under a microscope. These insects eat the wax in the ear canal and irritate the dog’s sensitive skin while it does. A yeast infection is a fungus that likes to grow in the ear canal’s cool, dark, and damp environment, especially in dogs with floppy ears. Yeast infections are more common because a single drop of water, high humidity, and even some medications can cause fungus to grow, while your dog will need to come into actual physical contact with ear mites to contact them.

Understand the Symptoms

Symptoms of ear mites include plenty of continuous scratching of the ear to the point that it can start to bleed. Your dog might also shake its head frequently to find objects to rub it on, looking for relief. You might also notice a loss of hair and appetite as your dog becomes increasingly frustrated. Yeast infections are not usually as itchy as ear mites are, but you will likely smell a terrible odor and might even notice a discharge coming from the ear. Your dog might also suffer from difficulty hearing caused by blocked ears and can lose its balance in some cases.

Ear mites usually look like a dark brown for black earwax, while yeast infections often have signs of discharge and crusty ears.

Interior of dog’s ear being held open for cleaning
Image Credit: 9gifts, Shutterstock

The Diagnosis

If you notice your cat seems to have the symptoms of ear mites or a yeast infection, we recommend taking it to the vet to have it looked over so you can start treating it. Ear mites are contagious, and the more time your pet spends in the home carrying er mites, the greater the chance it will pass them on to any other pets in your home, especially if they are friendly and spend a lot of time together. Yeast infections are also contagious, and since the discharge can contain mold and bacteria, it might be easier to spread from one animal to the next.

The Treatment

Treatment for ear mites is pretty straightforward, and it requires you to place some antimicrobial ear drops into the ears to kill them. The drops will start working immediately, but it can take several days or even weeks before the miters are gone. The treatment for yeast infections usually requires your dog to take antifungal medication orally to help clear it up. Doctors sometimes combine this medication with antibacterial medication to eliminate any infections.

Clean the Ears

Once you have administered medication to kill the ear mites, you will need to wait several days for it to work, but once your cat stops scratching, it should be safe to carefully clean out the ears with soft tissue and Q-Tip to remove the dead mites. You will also need to carefully wash away the discharge and oily residue left behind by the yeast infection. Frequently cleaning and drying the ears of floppy-eared dogs is the best way to prevent yeast infections from occurring in the future. Coconut oil has both antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help you keep the ears clean.

Veterinarian performing cleaning hearing a dog Golden Retriever
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock


As we mentioned earlier, the best way to prevent yeast infections in our dog’s ears is to check them regularly to ensure they are clean and dry. Preventing ear mites can be a little trickier since your dog can pick them up almost anywhere if it spends time outside. Disinfecting the areas it frequents can help reduce the risk, and frequently checking the ears can help you detect any problems early.

Side Effects

Both ear mites and yeast infections can cause your dog considerable discomfort, leading to misbehavior and even aggression. They can also remove a lot of blood from your pet, leading to anemia if not treated quickly, which can lead to general weakness and a refusal to eat. In extreme cases, it can even lead to the death of your pet.

attentive vet massaging the dog's ear
Image Credit: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV, Shutterstock



Ear mites look like dark brown or black earwax. There will be no odor, and the mites are too small to see with the naked eye, but you will know they are causing a problem for your pet because of the constant scratching and whimpering. On the other hand, yeast infections often create oozing crusty ears with a telltale smell of infection.  Dogs with a yeast infection can have difficulty hearing and bump into objects or lose balance and fall over. Luckily, both conditions can clear up with medication, and your dog should be fine.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we have helped you better understand your pet’s health, please share our look into how to tell if your dog has ear mites or yeast infection on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

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