Ear ticks

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Ear Ticks

The spinous ear tick (Otobius megnini) can sometimes cause problems in horses. This type of tick, which is classified as a soft tick (argasid), is known to lay their eggs in their host's ears. When the larvae hatch, they can cause severe otitis (itching) and inflammation of the ear canal. Horses may be seen frequently rubbing their ear, shaking their heads, and displaying signs of irritation. In severe cases, muscle spasm and head tilt may develop. It is diagnosed by detection of the ticks in the ear---which may require sedation. Your veterinarian will need to physically remove the tick and clean the exudate. Treatment for secondary skin infections may be indicated.


Head shaking
Hypersensitive ears
Ear rubbing
Difficult to get halter or bridle on
Head tilt
Muscle spasm


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam - identification of tick



Tick removalYou're veterinarian will need to first confirm whether there is indeed a tick in the ear, and if so, may likely need to administer sedatives in order to carefully remove the tick from the ear
AntibioticsMay be needed to help prevent secondary infections.


  • Application of tick repellent prior to pasture turnout
  • Use fly masks with ear coverage while horses graze in pastures.

Scientific Research

General Overviews

Risk Factors

  • High tick populations