Can Peroxide Kill Ear Mites in Dogs? Be Cautious!

dog getting his ear cleaned with peroxide

Although peroxide can kill ear mites in dogs, it is not recommended unless used under the supervision of a veterinarian. Too much peroxide will cause skin irritation and can even lead to a chemical burn. Considering there are much safer ways to kill ear mites, it’s best to avoid peroxide. 

As a starting point, let’s discuss what ear mites are and how they may affect dogs. If your dog has ear mites, it is necessary to treat them immediately. 

You may have heard that peroxide will kill ear mites in dogs. This sounds like great news since most of us have peroxide on hand. The question is, however, can it actually kill ear mites? 

…and even if peroxide can kill ear mites, is it the safest “at home” option? We believe it’s good to know about all your other options before making a treatment decision, so once we finish going over the use of peroxide, we will also cover some other at home treatment options.

Remember, if ear mites go untreated, there could be consequences.

Let’s Define Ear Mites

There are a variety of characteristics that can be used to identify ear mites. Aside from identifying ear mites by their characteristics (e.g., physical appearance and behaviors), if a dog has ear mites, they should exhibit behavior that suggests there is an ear issue. 

If there is an issue with the ear, dog owners should be able to recognize the symptoms, which may result in an ear mite diagnosis. 

Ear mites are medically referred to as Otodectes cynotis and are considered a parasitic insect. This insect is barely visible but can be seen as a white speck if against a dark surface. 

Under a microscope, the physical characteristics are similar to that of ticks or spiders. Like ticks and spiders, they may bite. 

Unlike some insects, ear mites need a host to survive and live on. A dog’s ear is the most suitable place for ear mites to thrive because it provides an optimal environment and nutrition (dead skin cells or ear debris…yuck!). 

Ear mites are highly contagious because they are always searching for hosts. If an animal comes in direct contact with another animal that has ear mites, they will more than likely become infested as well. 

Symptoms of Ear Mites

A number of symptoms may indicate that a dog has ear mites. Extreme ear discomfort is the leading symptoms, which could lead to ear scratching, hair loss around the ear, and head shaking. Other common signs include a dark discharge, lesions, and inflammation in or around the ear. 

It is important to note that many parasite infestations could display similar symptoms, so it’s important to get a professional diagnosis from a vet.

Ways to Treat and Kill Ear Mites

There are a number of ways to treat and kill ear mites, but what is the best one? 

Some might turn to what they have on hand or can easily buy in stores (Peroxide for example). However, before doing so, it is important to understand what peroxide is and if it can actually kill ear mites. 

If Peroxide isn’t the best option, what is?

What is Peroxide and Can it Kill Ear Mites?

Hydrogen Peroxide (or Peroxide) is a mild antiseptic that is commonly used to treat a cut, scrape, or burn on the skin and prevent infection. It can also be used as a mouth rinse and aide in mouth sores. 

When applied, it releases oxygen and foams, which can help remove dead skin and debris to help clean the area. 

In addition, some vets (not all) say it is okay for dog owners to use peroxide in moderation to clean their dog’s ears because it can kill the bacteria that cause infection. 

In theory, this process sounds like it could help remove debris, ear mites, and their larvae from the ear while cleaning it. In reality, applying excess amounts of peroxide could cause additional skin irritation and (through chemical reactions) leave excess water in the ear. 

This would create a place for bacteria to thrive. Overall, the rewards of using Peroxide as a natural, cheap home remedy might not outweigh the risks.

Other Options to Treat Ear Mites in Dogs

The most common way to treat ear mites is through a combination of medicine that works to treat the infestation of the parasite and focuses on killing the mites. 

Such treatments typically involve cleaning the dog’s ears to remove as many mites as possible and then applying a topical anti-parasitic medication over the course of 2-3 weeks until the mites have cycled through and become extinct (within the dog’s ear). 

Another popular form of clinical treatment involves a single dose medication (e.g., Milbemite, Revolution, Advantage Multi, Simparica or Bravecto), which is applied to the skin just behind the neck. The single-dose medication works by entering the dog’s bloodstream through the skin and serves its purpose from there. Injections are also sometimes used to treat ear mites. 

The treatment that is used will depend on the situation, so it is helpful to work with a vet to determine what they believe to be the best for your specific situation.

What Happens if Ear Mites Go Untreated?

Once you find out your dog has ear mites, it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible. If left untreated, ear mites will continue to reproduce (like fleas) and won’t go away on their own. Some form of treatment is necessary to completely get rid of them. 

Disease, infection, and severe damage to the ear may occur if ear mites are not properly treated.

Disease and Infection

Many ear diseases and infections are linked to ear mites, such as otitis externa. This will create further discomfort, which could worsen the problem. 

Otitis externa causes inflammation and forms in the inner ear. The mites trap moisture and debris in the inner ear by partially blocking the canal, which aids in the growth of bacteria that forms an infection. This is especially common for dogs with floppy ears.

Ear Damage

Ear mites can damage the external or inner ear in many ways. Excessive ear scratching and head shaking can cause external ear damage. This damage can range from cuts, scrapes, or burst blood vessels, commonly referred to as an ear-flap hematoma. 

A middle or inner ear injury could result in hearing loss and balance-related issues.

Use Peroxide With Caution

There are a number of health concerns that dog owners will encounter, ear mites are no exception. Ear mites are the most common parasite in dogs next to fleas, so there is a good chance an owner will come across them. 

Certain preventative options may be available, but mites are very contagious, so recognizing potential signs for mites is crucial. 

If caught early, peroxide can be an option to rinse and remove the ear mites, but it should only be used in moderation, and owners should try to keep their dog’s ears as clean and dry as possible. 

Some dogs may have a more severe infestation or chance for infection (i.e., floppy-eared dogs), so it may be best to simply seek medical treatment to ensure the ear mites are killed without causing further issues.

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