Are Ear Mites in Dogs Contagious to Humans?

Transmission of ear mites from dogs to people is rare. Most often, the tiny little pests are passed from pet to pet.

Are ear mites in dogs contagious to humans? Ear mites can create an uncomfortable situation for your dog (or cat). But are ear mites in dogs contagious to humans?

Perhaps the following information will not only provide the answer to that question but also give you an interesting peek into the world of those pesky, eight-legged parasites that love feasting on the wax and oils in your pet’s ear canal.

An ear mite has a three-week life cycle. Barely visible to the naked eye (the photo above is a magnified view), mites often cause irritation and inflammation. They have the ability to infect both the external and internal ear canals.


The most common symptoms of ear mites in dogs are:

  • Scratching or rubbing of the ears
  • Head shaking
  • Inflammation
  • Strong odor
  • Obstruction of the ear canal with coffee-ground-like discharge

Here is a photo of what the ear of an infected pet looks like.

These tiny ear mites can be a big nuisance, scurrying around in a dog’s ear canal causing extreme itching. The heavy-duty scratching it will take to ease the itch could cause your dog’s ear to bleed. If left untreated, ear mites can damage the eardrum and possibly even bring about deafness, since the ear canal sometimes becomes totally blocked. In severe cases, a torn eardrum is possible.

According to The Merck/Merial Manual of Pet Health, ear mites are sometimes found on a dog’s body as well.

Are Ear Mites in Dogs Contagious to Humans?

With the knowledge that ear mites are contagious among dogs and cats, where does that leave the pet owner? Are ear mites in dogs contagious to humans? Studies reveal that the answer to this question is “yes” — but transmission of ear mites from canines to humans is very rare. Most often, the mites are passed from pet to pet. People who are in close contact with infected animals may acquire ear mites, but in these cases, the mites will most likely get on your arm and start biting rather than travel into your ear. When bitten by an ear mite, a person may develop a skin rash.

If your pet shows any signs of having ear mites, consult your veterinarian for treatment options. That constant itching sensation is enough to drive us humans crazy — can you imagine the feeling of little bugs crawling around nibbling inside our ears? Your pet should get relief from this problem as soon as you become aware of it.

Video Overview of Ear Mites

In this very short video, Sam Meisler, DMV, explains more about ear mites in dogs:

Additional Resources

  • Mar Vista (Calif.) Animal Medical Center: Ear mites
  • Canine Health Care Corner: Ear mites in dogs
  • ASPCA: Ear mites

Photo: Animal Kingdom Pet Hospital/Flickr

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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  1. nick
    July 12, 2013

    Hello i think my dog has these she is itching her ears all the time and there is black/brown stuff in side the ear like in tho photo but now he back of her ears have gone bold and now around her eyes are going bold. I have been using ear drops to kill the ear mites..

  2. Pets Adviser
    October 19, 2014

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