What the Pluck?!?
Ear plucking has always been a controversial subject in the grooming world. Some breeds, such as Poodles (including Doodles), Shitzus and Schnauzers, grow hair in their ear canal. For many years it was normal for groomers or veterinarians to pluck this hair from the canal, believing that it was blocking air into the ear.
As with everything, we learn as we go. What has been determined in recent years is that yanking this hair out can actually cause microscopic tears in the ear canal tissue. If bacteria are present in the ear, it’s quite possible for it to enter those tears and cause an ear infection in the injured ear.
Contrary to what us groomers have been previously taught, requested, or commanded, the current advice from veterinary dermatologists is that plucking ear hair can do more harm than good. Rather than prevent ear infections, this procedure can actually create a greater likelihood of infection by damaging the tender inner ear tissue and allowing a foothold for bacteria to thrive.
In her presentation to Tucson, Arizona groomers, “Ears: What Every Groomer Needs to Know”, Dr. Heide Newton, DVM, DACVD plainly stated that groomers should stop plucking ear hair from inside dog’s ears. “Healthy ears are self-cleaning”, stated Dr. Newton. She encouraged groomers to continue the practice of ear cleaning, however, using products formulated for ear care, and massaging the base of the ear to allow the product to loosen wax and debris from deep in the ear canal. Clipping and/or careful scissoring of excess hair around the ear opening is also helpful for maintaining ear health. Q-Tips should be used only on the crevices of the outer ear, not down into the ear canal. The concern is not that the eardrum might be damaged as with human ears, but that waxy material may be inadvertently packed further into the ear canal.
Another clear statement from Dr. Newton was that “Bathing with clean water will NOT cause ear infections.” Contaminated water may introduce microbes that lead to ear infections, but clean water is not a problem. In fact, many of the complaints owners may have about their dog developing ear infections after grooming are most likely coming from the plucking of ears and not the introduction of water in the ear.
At Wagabonz Grooming, we have a few thoughts on this:
- First, ripping this hair out of the ear HURTS the dog. Most will fight and wiggle to try and get the person pulling the hair to stop. Some will scream and try to bite… this can lead to fear of grooming. Something none of us want.
- You, as the pet owner, probably don’t want your groomer to inflict pain on your dog, you want your dog to be happy to go to their groomer! And we want them happy to come and see us.
- The hair in a dog’s ear serves a purpose, it blocks debris from getting into the ear canal. Ear growing in the ear canal is seen in many breeds of dogs who do jobs such as digging and burrowing in holes where dirt is flung around, such as terrier breeds.
Given all the new information and our personal observations, we will no longer pluck hair in our dog grooming salon. If you or your veterinarian really need your dog’s ears plucked, we are recommending that you ask your veterinarian to do the deed.
A little side note… we stopped automatically plucking dogs ears several months back (only done upon request). We can say that our salon hasn’t received a single phone call telling us that their dog got an ear infection right after grooming so we must have “got water in their ears” since. This tells us that it’s because those ear infections were never caused by getting water into a dog’s ears, but from yanking the hair out of the ear canal.
At Wagabōnz Grooming, we will gladly trim the hair in the ear canal rather than pull it out. You and your pup will thank us.