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Vet Answers Groomer: Should Groomer Pluck Ear Hair

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  • Vet Answers Groomer: Should Groomer Pluck Ear Hair

    Q: I am a vet assistant, but working in the field of pet grooming at this time. I see many dogs come in with ear problems. Most of them are dogs that have hair in the ear. I suggested plucking the hair to allow ventilation. My boss and co-workers said no, that it causes hematomas in the ear. Is this true? And what is best to prevent ear infections?

    A: A hematoma is a blood clot that forms between the skin layers of the ear flap. They are generally caused aggressive head shaking, especially in long-eared dog breeds. Ear infections and ear mites are the most common reasons dogs will shake their ears hard enough to form a hematoma. I have never heard of it being caused by ear hair plucking. However, if the ear plucking causes enough irritation, it would be possible to stimulate the dog into head-shaking behavior.

    Plucking ear hair is a common grooming procedure, especially in poodle-like breeds with thick ear hair. Most veterinarians believe that opening the ear canal to air can help reduce the risk of infection. However, some believe that the irritation caused by plucking may sometimes make ears more susceptible to infection. In reality, it probably depends on the individual dog and may be variable among breeds.
    The best advice I have is to ask pet owners when they drop off the dog if they wish to have the ear hairs plucked. That way the decision is in their hands.

    If you believe there is already an infection in the ear, you should refer your clients to a veterinarian. As a groomer or veterinary assistant, you are not allowed to diagnose or treat disease. However, you can tell the people you suspect something is wrong and direct them to a veterinarian for treatment.

    As for preventing ear infections, the best policy is regular cleaning of the ear canals. Dogs have two portions of ear canal in each ear. They have a horizontal ear canal, like humans, that leads from the ear drum out toward the side of the head. Unlike humans, the canal then takes a sharp turn into the vertical ear canal which exits the head well above the level of the ear drum. Gravity will cause anything placed into the ear to pool in the horizontal canal next to the ear drum. For this reason, it is important to use an ear cleanser, specially formulated for dogs, that is specially pH balanced to reduce irritation to the ear drum. Any veterinarian or pet store will carry these cleansers. I do not recommend water, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil or other home remedies.

    Every seven to 30 days, any after every bath or swimming session, dog owners should infuse a liberal amount of dog ear cleanser into the ear, filling both canals. Then the ear should be vigorously massaged, working up wax from deep in the ear. Finally, a cotton ball or paper towel can be used to wipe the portion of the ear canal that the pet owner can easily reach with a finger.

    The three most commonly misused ear cleaning items are Q-tips, packaged ear wipes and ear powders. None of these methods is effective for proper cleansing of the entire ear canal. Some of them can cause harm if not used properly.

    Regular cleaning is the best way to prevent infections in the ear canals. In addition, it helps owners to catch problems earlier. With regular cleaning, pet owners know the typical consistency of the pet’s ear wax. If the material increases in volume or changes in color, a veterinarian should be contacted to examine the pet for signs of infection.

    Pet owners should never use previously prescribed antibiotic creams for new ear problems. This is one of the most common causes of dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria in pets. Also, most ear problems in adult dogs are not caused by ear mites. Over the counter ear mite remedies most frequently just prolong painful infections. When ears become inflamed, the best way to prevent a hematoma is to get the dog to the veterinarian for early treatment.

    Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner at Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. Questions can be submitted through, or by calling his office at (540) 428-1000.
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  • #2
    Thanks for posting!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G870A using Tapatalk


    • #3
      My dog had a hematoma on her ear, and got an operation to heal it, I never plug her ear' hair, she has none!


      • #4
        Good read. Certainly hematomas are NOT all sourced by ear plucking.


        • #5
          Good article.


          • #6
            Too bad his answer contradicts the vet dermatologists.
            <a href="" target="_blank">My Blog</a> The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain


            • #7
              Been cleaning ears 26 years no problems fortunately but not if there are any signs of problems.