Vaseline For Ear Mites In Dogs: Does It Kill Ear Mites? Is It Safe?

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This content was reviewed and fact-checked by veterinarian Dr. Aukse Caraite, DVM.

Ear mites, those tiny parasites, can wreak havoc in a dog’s ears and other body parts, causing inflammation, discomfort, and even infections. While many commercial products and medications are designed to combat this common issue, a household staple has also been whispered about in dog parks and vet waiting rooms: Vaseline. But does vaseline kill ear mites in dogs? Is it safe? Or is there a risk?

This article touches on the efficacy, safety, risks, and application of vaseline as a remedy for ear mites in dogs. Is it the hidden solution you’ve sought, or is it too good to be true? Let’s dive in!

What Are Dog Ear Mites?

Ear mites, also known as Otodectes cynotis, are tiny eight-legged parasites that live in the ear canal of dogs but can also live on your dog’s skin surface. It’s common in cats and other small animals, too.[1] These tiny critters feed on skin fat and earwax, which explains why they settle in the ears. 

Unlike many other parasites, ear mites are relatively easy to treat and do not burrow under the skin. However, they are highly contagious and infect animals through direct contact with infected animals. The ear mite is an arachnid in the same family as spiders and ticks, but easier to treat. They are microscopically tiny and barely visible to the naked eye and can only survive for a very limited time without a host.

Ear mites are a relatively mild parasite infection. Nevertheless, complications may occur if an animal develops a hypersensitivity reaction that causes intense irritation at the external ear.

Vaseline For Ear Mites In Dogs

Vaseline, also known as petroleum jelly, has a thick, greasy consistency that may potentially inhibit the activities of ear mites. Vaseline is a byproduct of the oil refining process. As crude oil is refined, it produces a waxy substance that is further refined to create petroleum jelly.

When vaseline is applied to certain parts of your dog’s body, it can provide benefits. However, it may not be appropriate for certain body parts.

Does Vaseline Kill Ear Mites In Dogs?

When applied to the affected area, vaseline can coat the mites, effectively suffocating them and drastically limiting their mobility. The dense nature of the jelly obstructs the breathing pores of these mites, causing them to perish.

A study published in the Philippine Journal of Ophthalmology found that petroleum jelly may have an acaricidal effect (pesticide effect that kills members of the arachnid subclass Acari, which includes ticks and mites). The study also notes the suffocating effect of petroleum jelly on lice and its ability to lessen hatching in lice eggs and that the same effect is to be assumed in mites.[2]

According to UCI Health experts, vaseline is also a natural antibiotic and antiseptic or substance that prevents the growth of disease-causing microorganisms.[3] In addition, vaseline can soothe the skin effectively, easing itching, inflammation and swelling derived from ear mites.

Can You Put Vaseline On Your Dog Ears to Treat Ear Mites?

Our team of veterinarians recommends against using vaseline to treat dog ear mites. While vaseline can suffocate ear mites and other parasites, it isn’t a foolproof solution.

The challenge is addressing the mites that have burrowed deeper into the ear. Trying to reach them could pose risks to your dog’s eardrums.

Tackling ear mites effectively usually involves prescription anti-parasitic medications and several thorough ear cleanings. Introducing substances into the delicate environment of a dog’s ears, regardless of how benign they might seem, can have unintended consequences. A dog’s ears provide an ideal environment for infectious agents. Adding vaseline could trap bacteria or yeast, potentially exacerbating or creating new issues.

Avoid introducing products into your dog’s ears unless specifically formulated for canine use and vet-recommended. Consult with your vet for the appropriate and effective treatment options.

Dog Ear Mites Treatment

Treatment generally begins with thoroughly cleaning the dog’s ear to remove any wax or debris that may shield the mites from topical medications.

These are the most common medication treatments for ear mites in dogs.

These treatments target mites inside the ear and outside, helping reduce allergic reactions in some pets.

Is Vaseline Safe For Dogs Ears? Risks

While vaseline isn’t inherently toxic to dogs, it’s neither risk-free. A dog consuming a significant amount of vaseline can experience side effects. These include:

  • Discomfort and bloating
  • Gas
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

It’s essential to note that not all generic vaseline products are safe. Some products, especially those not refined in the U.S., have been found to contain carcinogens.[5] As a safety guideline, check the source and refining process of any vaseline product you consider using on your pet.

A study showed that no harmful skin effects were observed when yellow and white petroleum jelly, was applied to dogs.[6] However, it’s important to remember that dogs naturally tend to lick areas where products are applied. If a dog licks off the vaseline, they ingest it, which can lead to the previously mentioned issues

Always consult a veterinarian before introducing any new product or remedy to your pet’s routine.

Downsides of Using Vaseline For Earmites In Dogs

Here are other limitations of vaselines that you should understand.

  • Not a cure-all. It may help alleviate some immediate discomforts and reduce the mite population, but it might not entirely eliminate the infestation. A more comprehensive treatment might still be necessary.
  • Messy application: The thick and greasy nature of vaseline can make the application process messy. Moreover, dogs might not like the sensation, making them shake their heads or try to scratch the substance off.
  • Potential for excessive buildup: Overuse or improper cleaning after applying vaseline can lead to excessive buildup in the ear, possibly causing more problems or complicating the treatment process.

Can You Put Vaseline For Ear Mites In Dogs Paws?

Using vaseline on a dog’s paws is generally for addressing dryness or for protection against certain environmental conditions, not for treating ear mites. If you suspect your dog has ear mites or any other issue with their paws, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian for appropriate treatment recommendations. Applying vaseline for ear mites in dogs paws may bring some relief but without proper guidance, it can sometimes exacerbate the problem or not address the underlying issue effectively.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Vaseline?

One or two bites of vaseline shouldn’t be too much of a cause for concern. 

However, if your dog ate too much vaseline or is showing symptoms of concern reaction to it, contact your vet immediately.

Can’t reach your vet? Contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661 or chat with a veterinary professional live via our online vet chat or video chat support (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Vaseline Alternatives For Dogs With Ear Mites

William Miller Jr., VMD, a professor of dermatology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine notes that drugs such as Ivermectin—are highly effective. He states that even the age-old remedy like baby oil can be effective.[4] Applying a few drops to the affected ear multiple times daily for several weeks can typically suffocate the mites.

Vaseline is not the ideal home remedy solution for ear mites in dogs. There are other potential home remedies that have been traditionally used with varying degrees of success when dealing with dog ear mites.

  • Olive oil. These oils can suffocate ear mites when introduced into the ear. A few drops can be warmed (but not made hot) and placed in the ear, massaging the base afterward to ensure even distribution.
  • Green tea. A cool green tea solution can be used as a rinse to cleanse the ear and create an inhospitable environment for mites.
  • Garlic oil. Herbalists recommend garlic oil due to its anti-parasitic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

Do not try these on your dog without consulting with a veterinarian before starting any treatment. When it comes to addressing ear mites in dogs, it’s essential to prioritize treatments that are both effective and safe.

Vaseline For Ear Mites In Dogs — Conclusion

Using vaseline for ear mites in dogs is not recommended. Petroleum jelly, such as vaseline, should not be used in a dog’s ears as it can lead to more problems and may not effectively treat ear mites.

Ear mites are a common issue in dogs, and the best course of action is to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. They can prescribe safe and effective medications to address the problem.

There are home remedies and over-the-counter products are specifically designed for ear mite treatment in dogs. However, it’s crucial to use these under the guidance of a veterinarian to ensure your dog’s safety and well-being.


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Sources

Canine Bible uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Marini, R. P., & Fox, J. G. (2002). Biology and Diseases of Ferrets. In Laboratory Animal Medicine (Second Edition). ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/otodectes-cynotis
  2. Tiuseco, K. A. L., Siong, R. L. B., Reyes, J. M., & Iguban, E. B. (n.d.). Petroleum Jelly Versus Tea Tree Oil and Tea Tree Facial Wash Lid Scrub in Patients with Blepharitis Associated with Above-normal Demodex Count. Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology.
    https://paojournal.com/article/petroleum-jelly-versus-tea-tree-oil-and-tea-tree-facial-wash-lid-scrub-in-patients-with-blepharitis-associated-with-above-normal-demodex-count/
  3. UCI Health. (2018, October). Home wound care do’s and don’ts. https://www.ucihealth.org/blog/2018/10/wound-care
  4. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. (2021). Ear Mites: Tiny Critters that can Pose a Major Threat.
    https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/ear-mites-tiny-critters-can-pose-major-threat
  5. Yusof, S. C. M., & Ali, F. (2008). Gamma irradiation in developing consumer-friendly lip balm. Paper presented at the National Conference on Environment and Health 2008, Kota Bahru, Malaysia. https://inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:40105916
  6. Budhiraja, R. D., Bala, S., & Garg, K. N. (1976). Effect of topical application of medicinal grade petrolatum on various species of laboratory animals and man. J Dermatol, 3(2), 45-8. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1346-8138.1976.tb00970.x
Editorial Team at Canine Bible | + posts

Canine Bible authorship represents the unified voice of our entire editorial team and our in-house veterinarians rather than a single author. Each article, blog post, and review published under the Canine Bible name undergoes a rigorous review process, involving all team members to guarantee accuracy and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research. This collaborative effort is an integral part of our editorial process and aligns with our four pillars of content creation. This approach ensures our content is backed by expert knowledge and factual information, offering our readers reliable, actionable, and trustworthy content.

DVM Surgeon Veterinarian at Canine Bible | + posts

Dr. Aukse is our in-house Lead Senior Veterinarian. Dr. Aukse is a dedicated and skilled DVM Surgeon renowned for her expertise in small/companion animal surgery and medicine. With a robust academic background and extensive hands-on experience, she ensures her patients receive the highest standard of care. Dr. Aukse is happy to share her knowledge and expertise with our readers.

Dr. Caraite's career experience as a DVM Veterinary Surgeon spans over seven years, marked by comprehensive learning from esteemed institutions and substantial experience in veterinary clinics. She is currently employed at a family-run, day-opening clinic in central Gothenburg, Sweden, where she performs surgery daily and manages a large patient base for both surgical and outpatient care. Her externship at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, with a focus on soft tissue and oncology service, has further honed her skills, equipping her with the essential knowledge and proficiency to excel in her field.

Dr. Aukse holds a Master’s in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (2017) and has completed an externship in Soft Tissue and Oncology Service at NC State (2018-2023). She is also has a Master’s in Small Animal Surgery with a specialization in Dog and Cat Surgery from the University of Copenhagen.


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