Is it OK to pluck the hair from my dog’s ears?
For some dog breeds, it’s natural to have hair growing inside their ears. Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Bichon Frises are just some of these breeds that grow thicker hair inside their ears. Unfortunately, hair growing inside the ear can impede the flow of air that is needed to keep the ear passages dry. It can also trap excess ear wax (cerumen), dirt, and debris. All of these can increase your dog’s risk of infection. If you have a dog with hair inside the ear, keep reading for expert grooming and maintenance tips.
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To Pluck or Not to Pluck the Hair from Your Dog’s Ears
This is a controversial topic that continues to make the rounds in the grooming world. Some professional dog groomers think that ear plucking should be a part of a dog’s grooming regimen while others think it’s not.
For those who are against the practice, they say plucking hair from a dog’s ear can do more harm than good. The procedure can cause microscopic tears in the tissues of the ear canal which can pave the way for bacteria to invade and cause infection.
However, a dog that suffers from chronic ear infections, wax buildup, or irritation may benefit from ear plucking because fewer hairs in the ear canals can help with proper air circulation. This is necessary to keep the passages dry and discourage bacterial and yeast growth. Also, plucking makes it easier to administer ear medication and ensure that it reaches into the ear canal.
But if recurrent ear infections are not a problem for your dog, there is no reason to pluck the hair from his ears regularly. Just make sure the hair is well-trimmed, so the ear opening is not blocked and air flows unimpeded. Keeping your pet’s ear hairs short can also prevent ear wax and debris from getting trapped. If you have concerns about the amount of hair growing inside your dog’s ears, it is a good idea to talk with your vet about it.
How to Pluck Your Dog’s Ears
Many dog owners choose to have their dog’s ears plucked by a professional groomer. However, you can also ask your groomer to show you how to pluck your dog’s ears at home.
Things You Will Need:
- Ear Powder - Ingredients in ear powders make the hair easier to grip while you pluck. Be careful not to get any ear powder in your dog’s eyes or let him sniff the powder as it can be very irritating to the respiratory passages and lungs if inhaled. The ingredients could also damage your dog’s eyes.
- Hemostats - While you can use your fingers to pluck the hair from your dog’s ears, hemostats make it easier to grip the hard-to-reach hair. Human tweezers are not recommended because their sharp edges can scratch the sensitive tissues of the ears and/or worsen existing injuries if your dog suddenly shakes or moves his head during plucking.
Steps for Plucking Your Dog’s Ears
- Apply some ear powder on your fingers so you can have a firm grip on the ear hairs.
- Start by getting a good grip on the hair around the opening of the ear canal. You can also use hemostats for this purpose.
- Use a quick and gentle motion to pluck the hair from your dog’s ears. It should come out easily. If it doesn’t, it’s best not to pluck it.
- Avoid over-plucking! You only need to clear up the opening of the ear canal.
- After plucking, apply a few drops of veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution on your pet’s ears to flush out any powder or debris.
- Use a cotton ball or gauze to wipe your dog’s ears dry.
Why You Should Check Your Dog’s Ears Regularly
Regular monitoring of your pet’s ear health is very important. Make a habit of checking your pet’s ears for any sign of irritation or infection. The tissues of the inner parts of the ears are extremely sensitive and infections can set in and worsen quickly. Redness, discharge, a strong odor, or being sensitive to the handling of the ears are signs that there is something wrong with your pet’s ears.
You should avoid treating your dog at home without the advice of your vet. There are a lot of home treatment regimens for ear problems that you could easily access online but remember that many of these contain ingredients that can irritate or be toxic to the ear tissues. Trying to clean your dog’s infected ears could do more damage rather than be beneficial.
Ear hair plucking should be introduced as early as possible as a part of a home grooming regimen especially for hair-eared puppies to keep the ear canal healthy.
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