Why pluck dog ear hair?
Plucking hair from the inside of your dog’s ear allows a deeper and more thorough cleaning removing wax and debris build up. The bacteria and yeast that lead to ear infections thrive better in the warm, dark and moist environment of a hairy ear canal.
Should you pluck a dog’s ear hair?
Whether or not to pluck a dog’s ear hair has always been a subject of controversy. Although it is a common dog grooming practice many groomers no longer do it for fear of being blamed for causing an ear infection.
Most ear infections in dogs are caused by one specific yeast call Malassezia Pachydermayis. This organism is present on your dog’s skin and in the ear at all times.
Even if a dog’s ear looks totally clean there is still trace amounts of these yeast organisms present. The second most common bacteria that lead to ear infections is Staph which is also present to some degree in the ear.
The dog’s immune system works to keep the yeast and bacteria in check. If a dog gets an ear infection it is a sign that the immune system is not doing its job fully.
Hair in the ears is one of the factors that cause the immune system to not be keeping on top of this bacteria and yeast. Other factors include dogs with a drop or floppy ears, dogs with small ear canals, and water or moisture build up in the ear.
By routinely (ideally six weekly) removing and minimizing the hair build up in the ear it helps to keep the micro-environment of the ear canal healthier making it easier for the immune system to keep bacteria in check.
Does plucking dog ear hair hurt?
Plucking ear hair can be uncomfortable for a dog. How much discomfort depends on;
- how often it is done. Ideally, plucking your dog’s ear hair should be done six weekly. If left too long it allows a large amount to build up making it a bigger job.
- on the individual dog. With some dogs, you will find that the hair pulls out effortlessly and you can quite often just use your fingers. With other dogs, it may be a little more difficult.
- what age you begin to do it. If done routinely from a puppy most dogs will get used to it. They will accept it as part of the grooming process.
If it is obviously becoming painful for your dog, then stop. You can try again later or on another day and do a bit at a time. It is also a good idea to clip the inside of the ear leather and around the entrance to the ear canal. Do not clip inside the ear entrance and be very careful not to catch the skin flap inside the ear with the blade.
What to use to pluck dog ear hair.
It may be possible to pluck the ear hair using just your finger as long as it is dry and not to thick. If the hair is moist or too thick you may need to use powder and/or ear tweezers.
This special ear hair powder will absorb the moisture on the hair and allow you to get a better grip
You can use these specially designed ear hair plucking tweezers or hemostats. These are the safest way to do this. They have rounded or blunt ends that won’t stick into the skin. Do not use human tweezers as these usually have sharp ends.
How to pluck dog ear hair.
I usually start by clipping the inside of the ear leather. Then around the base on the inside of the ear to clear away the area. This should just leave you with the actual hair at the entrance of the ear canal. If you are using a powder, sprinkle enough to cover the hair but not too much. With your fingers grip a little of the hair and give it a quick sharp pluck. You may find your fingers are slipping off the hair. Try a little more powder. If you are able to get a good grip you will need to use ear plucking tweezers.
If you are unable to get all the hair you can carefully use scissors to trim it back. This is to allow more air in.
Removing hair from your dog’s ear canal should be a reasonably easy procedure. If you are not comfortable doing this it may be best to have it done by a professional groomer or vet.