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Ears Revisited

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  • Ears Revisited

    The recent post regarding the use of ear powder got me thinking.

    This post is not intended to start another debate on the pros and cons of removing ear hair. I think most of the regulars here have made themselves quite clear where they stand on the subject.

    The issue I have is that I feel you are damned if you do and damned if you don't in regards to removing ear hair. I think most groomers feel this way.

    I think that a good share of customers expect the ear hair removed during a groom. And 99% of the time it is not a problem.

    But that 1% of the time where it is a problem who gets the blame?? The groomer.

    If you don't remove the hair and a infection occurs, the Vet will tell them that the groomer should have removed the hair. If you do remove the hair and pull up a infection, you may get blamed for "getting water into the ears" or whatever causing the infection.

    I have almost reached a point of adding to my grooming release a section just about ears. Something like, at the owners request, I will remove the hair from the ear but the owner will assume all liability for any issue that may arise from the removal of the hair. I haven't really thought this out yet.

    Do any of your releases talk about the removal of ear hair??? If you are a groomer who chooses not to remove ear hair for whatever reason, how do you handle customers who insist that it be removed?? Are you willing to lose a customer over it?? Have you ever had a customer come back at you and tell you that the Vet said you should have removed the hair during grooming??

    I will say that I had never paid a vet bill for a ear infection. I have, however, had several conversations, after the fact with people who were advised after grooming that their dog may have a ear infection and should be taken to a Vet to be looked at. Of course most of these people would rather wait and see before paying for a vet bill.


  • #2
    I agree,this has certainly been covered yet the discussion will contiue I am sure. I think you have an interesting idea and I will be anxious to hear other thoughts on this...

    Personally, I do still remove the hair using an ear powder. But I do not pull every hair I see, mostly I take the outter/ most visible hairs. I don't go looking for the "brain hairs" ( a term I heard at a seminar once). If a dog really fusses about it I will stop. My concern is for the ones that have an exceptionally dirty/ greasy/ gunky ear, it is more difficult to clean them thoroughly when they are also filled with hair. I also clip the hair around the outter edge of the ears, this also helps to keep the ear cleaner and allows air to flow more freely. (IMO)



    • #3
      I am conflicted on this subject as well Scott!

      I've almost decided to just let the clients confer with their vet on plucking and let me know what the vet recommends, then make a notation on the card according. If I know how a vet feels about a particular procedure and follow their recommendation, how can they THEN come back and blame me for following their directions? Same with glands, some say express every time, some say only if needed, etc. Funny thing is, the dogs who have trouble with their glands are normally the ones that want to take my hand off if I get near their "booty" lol Then they are so darn TIGHT, you can't get a good expression (back there, lol) no matter how you try. THEN the dog ends up at the vet and they say "the groomer should have done this" grrr Honestly, I feel (for the most part) on the dogs that REALLY need expressing, that a groomer can get it completely doing it externally.

      Maybe we need a "new client form" like they use at medical clinics. The client needs to fill out the form prior to "treating" their pet. On it could include more extensive direction on the pet's history and vet recommendations. If we go by what is recommended by their vet, there should be no gripe (hopefully, lol). Seriously though, it would help with the vet/groomer relationship if we were all "on the same page" so-to-speak.


      • #4
        Ears <sigh>

        I am one who usually pulled hair, but there were exceptions. For instance, puppies who are not used to it and scream may just get a bit pulled, or may just get the hair tugged to experience the sensation during the first groom or two.

        For dogs that come in only 1-3 times per year and have just a few wispy strands in their ears, I may just cut the wisps short, not pluck them out, especially if the owner doesn't seem to know if the dog's ears have usually been plucked. (You know - some of those light-coated Cairns or other Terrier types, or thin-coated Poodles, etc.)

        Dogs that have bad infections in their ears are left alone now. I used to struggle through them, but am over that - I don't feel it's up to me to do those ears. They need looking after until they are better, and I don't get paid enough. I DO try to talk to the owners about whether their dog has a recurring problem and - since most of the ear problems I see look to be yeast infections - discuss their dog's food/diet.

        Dogs, like people, are so individual, and there is just not a "one-size-fits-all" approach. When I started grooming, a client had 2 Toy Poodles, both with perfect-looking ears and very little hair. Although she requested that I do not pluck the ears of the female, in my focus of doing the groom I forgot (new groomer going down my checklist - oops!), and when I came back the next time the owner reminded me, telling me that every time that dog had hair plucked, she scratched her ears and aggravated them. Although she said "infection", I don't believe the dog actually got infected (although probably COULD have, sticking foot in ear!). But that particular dog just had that reaction. I always keep that in mind regarding plucking, especially when the owners tell me the dog got irritated (or should I say, "EAR-itated), and if the dog is one with wispy ear hair, I suggest not plucking and trying that if there are no other apparent problems.

        I'm not sure I would put it on a form. I might simply discuss it with owners. Some owners just "have heard" one thing or another, and believe it. Sometimes more information helps, sometimes not.

        So I am sure this only adds to the confusion, lol, but I approach ears the way I do the whole groom: What works? What does the owner want? And if the dog had/has a problem, what can or should be done to help it?


        • #5
          totally blew my mind.........

          the vet I used to go to, was checking my yorkie one time, he looked in his ears, and I said "I know, he's got some hair to come out"............the vet said........."ACTUALLY, the dermatoligist we work with believes that plucking ear hair actually CAUSES ear infections" after that I would gauge a dogs ears, if they had a ton of hair I would remove some, and explain to my customers what my vet had said. That being said, the SAME vet told one of my clients the reason her dog got an ear infection is because he needs the hair plucked by the groomer...........which is the SAME groomer he spoke to about this. ARRRRGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!! So I've gone back to gauging a dogs ears, if there is a ton, I take some out, if the ear is infected badly?? GO TO YOUR VET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


          • #6
            I haven't had to pluck ears in years, however back then I would not want to lose a customer over differing opinions on ear hear plucking. If the customer wanted me to do it, I would, except for this one standard that did barrel rolls when I and 3 others tried to hold him down.

            I also used to shave the inside flap of the ear to give some dogs more breathing room in there if the owner let me (and this was only with certain types of dogs with long floppy ears). I've only had one person ever want a free groom because of an ear infection, but she mentioned it 5 weeks after the groom and there was no way I was covering that. She could go elsewhere at that point.

            If it's that much of a concern, then add that the little bit about ears to your form. The great thing about business is you can do your own thing!


            • #7
              Personally, I'd be concerned about people and vets thinking I'm not a good groomer if I left hair....most seem to expect hair pulled. They might think you weren't doing a thorough job. If you have vets in your area telling people that the groomer should be plucking ear hair, I wouldn't want to be the one to risk my business reputation by bucking the medical professionals, even if I didn't think it was the right thing to do.
              A Light exists in Spring, Not present on the Year, At any other period -- When March is scarcely here...~~ Emily Dickensen~~


              • #8
                Well, I am on the side of the fence that plucks the ears because the area vets tell their clients to be sure to tell their groomer to pluck out the ears. The vets expect that to be done by the groomers and the vets themselves will pluck puppy ears when they see hair in them at their first visit, so it is an accepted and expected practice in our area. HOWEVER,
                one of my wirefox terrier clients took her dog to a dermatologist for various skin issues and the dermatologist told her to stop plucking the ears as it can cause problems (the dog also has chronic ear infections). So, the client has told me to stop with the ear plucking and we will see what happens - if the ear problems improve or not. Her regular vet had always told her to keep the ears plucked out clean to help avoid ear problems. The dermatologist says the hair in the ears helps keep dirt and debris out, the regular vets say that the hair in the ears traps debris and moisture in. We will see how this plays out...


                • #9
                  I really just explain it to my clients the way I see it.

                  Back in the day ears were plucked. The general thought being that the hair blocked air flow and trapped moisture, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. The problem with that is that many dogs who do not have an abundance of hair in the ears are also very prone to ear infections. So veterinarians took a second look. Many of them, especially veterinary dermatalogists, have revised their position.

                  Many veterinarians are now of the opinion that plucking causes more infections than it prevents. Simply clipping as much of the hair as possible is sufficient in most cases. And that's what I do unless requested to do otherwise.

                  Then I leave it up to them. If they have more questions, I point out that ear hair is just like any other hair on the dog's body. It goes through a cycle, and when it's ready to come out it falls out and works it's way to the ear opening, where it's easy to remove with your fingers. If you pull out hair that isn't ready to come out, not only does it hurt, it can cause slight bleeding or oozing, which does indeed offer a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

                  To date, I only have one client that insists on plucking. And her dog has ear infections all the time.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by helly
                    Many veterinarians are now of the opinion that plucking causes more infections than it prevents.
                    I wish that were the case around here, lol. There is only 1 or 2 vets (who's clients are my clients) who are on the non-plucking wagon. The others say PLUCK PLUCK PLUCK!!!! So, as Mydogmissy said, I do not want clients to be questioning my skills/reputation because a vet said "blah, blah, blah". I rather they confer with their vet and tell me what is recommended by the vet. As has been stated on this board more times than I can remember, we are GROOMERS, not medical professionals and shouldn't be making a those types of decisions. It's the same way I handle my vaccination policy, that's between the client and their vet.


                    • #11
                      I agree with everyones comments so far, but you really are damned if you do and damned if you dont' with ears and anal glands.
                      Over the years things change, great, but they don't all change together and you have some vets say "groomers fault" for lack of doing such and such or for performing said service. It is a real slippery sloap! One that has not been resolved and I don't believe anymore, that it will ever be resolved. Too many vets don't agree and it puts groomers in a very precarious position. A general release form advising on ear, anal, skin & coat policies is smart in my view, at least you are trying to educate and inform clients of potential problems and do the best you can do. Don't see the harm in that.
                      Same goes with skin issues and shampoos. Geeezzh, somedays I'm almost scared to use any shampoo. Learning as much as I can about skin and coat but I am not a vet and don't want to "treat" anything. Just want to clean up a dog without making any existing problems worse or creating new ones. Even this simple thing can be difficult somedays! Using top quality products and hypo and they still can react. Then you have to start the "your dog needs to see a vet, blah blah, blah. I think I have to tell at least one customer a day to see a vet! The longer I'm in the business the more complex it becomes. So much to learn so little time! Good luck.


                      • #12
                        I don't pluck

                        at all. I do believe that is can cause problems. I tell my people that the Vets like it plucked for ease in them observing and hint that perhaps they like it because there just might be more ear infections with plucking than without. I.E. income? Then I say, Just kidding but really I think many ask for it because they always have. I had only one customer that said her Vet wants them plucked. I handed her a sheet of paper with information from Vets and Vet Dermatologists that believe it is bad for the ear. That particular dog tends to be yeasty and it's seems systemic, you know eyes, privates and ears. And when they remember to give the little girl a dollop of yogurt every day she is fine. They do it awhile and it keeps the problem away so then they forget and the problem comes back. I won't say it's yeast though, since I sure don't want to act like a Veterinarian.

                        There is actually wording for the trauma of ear hair plucking: Iatrogenic Trauma. Yes it could be for any ear trauma but some Vets relate it to plucking.

                        So since I've stopped plucking I have never had that yucky dark brown awful stuff in any of my clients dogs ears. Coincidence? I'm thinking not.
                        Money will buy you a pretty good dog but it won't buy the wag of it's tail.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Yorkie_Gal View Post
                          That being said, the SAME vet told one of my clients the reason her dog got an ear infection is because he needs the hair plucked by the groomer...........which is the SAME groomer he spoke to about this. ARRRRGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!! So I've gone back to gauging a dogs ears, if there is a ton, I take some out, if the ear is infected badly?? GO TO YOUR VET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                          I also have run into this instance as well same vet telling two different things. with that being said I make a choice on an individual basis as well!


                          • #14
                            I have come to realize unless you work for a vet that will back you up will get the blame matter which way you go . So yes damned if you do Damned if you don't,Unless the client tells me not to do it , it gets done.Anal glands only if requested.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Arrooh View Post
                              So since I've stopped plucking I have never had that yucky dark brown awful stuff in any of my clients dogs ears. Coincidence? I'm thinking not.
                              If you've stopped plucking Arrooh, how would you know if there's dark brown yucky stuff in the ears?

                              All I know is that I pluck all the time (carefully and judiciously) and the ears of my clients look great. I keep them well cleaned, swabbed, and air can circulate. I can't tell you the nasty stuff that came out when I took on these clients (as a new business). I have only two poor dogs with chonic ear problems long before I came on the scene (I do not pluck these!), I believe they are due to yeasty dietary issues since the vets can't seem to cure them. I keep the ears shaved, clean the infections as well as possible, and work with the owners in trying to keep them healthy.
                              A Light exists in Spring, Not present on the Year, At any other period -- When March is scarcely here...~~ Emily Dickensen~~