flora—the microorganisms that live on the skin surface.
However, when we pluck hair from the ear, we may
cause a reaction.
If we are gentle and pluck small amounts of hair
at a time, there may not be enough of a reaction
to stimulate the overproduction of skin cells. But
if we pluck too much hair at one time and create
an ulceration, this will initiate the production of an
abnormal number of cells to heal what the body thinks
is a wound. These cells will then be pushed to the skin's
surface, where they will die and build up, so assistance
will be needed to remove them.
In order to help the skin flora manage these extra
cells and prevent an imbalance, the ear needs to be
flushed routinely during the healing process. Otherwise,
there will be an overproduction of bacteria and yeast,
which feeds on the extra cells and causes complete
chaos. With this in mind, think before you remove large
amounts of hair from the ear canal at one time—you
may be causing an injury to the inside of the ears skin.
There are warning signs to look for before working
on a dog’s ears, all of which warrant an urgent
veterinarian visit—for example, if the ear is painful and
the dog resists the cleaning. Do not pluck or clean ears
if you see a pet tilting its head, as this could be a sign of
a ruptured eardrum. Likewise, avoid working on ears
that have a smelly discharge coming from them, as this
could be a sign of infection. A vet may need to swab the
ear to culture the organisms, and prior cleaning could
interfere with the results.
Once it’s established that you are working on
healthy ears, there are a lot of things to consider when
plucking the hair. For example, how much hair is in
the ear canal? If you have a regular four to six-week
customer with a small amount of coat in the ear canal,
you probably will not have any issues with plucking.
However, if you have an ear that has never been
plucked before or is double-feathered, things may be
The bottom line is if you are going to stimulate the
skin's surface by removing a lot of hair, you need to
educate the customer. When I take on a new client, I
like to examine the ears so I can educate them on any
existing issues. I explain the ear cleaning process is a
catch- 22. If I do not pluck and clean the dogs’ ears,
they will get limited air in the lower part of the canal.
The hair in the canal can also hold moisture, and
many bad bacteria are more prolific in a dark, moist
environment that gets little oxygen. All of these things
can cause an imbalance in the ear flora.
Healthy dogs and cats seem to manage their own ear health with few issues, but problems
can be caused by a variety of things, including parasites, food allergies, product reactions,
foreign objects in the ear, accumulation of hair, dead skin buildup, autoimmune diseases and
improper drying after swimming or bathing.
The best way to remove the buildup of debris and flaky skin is flush the ear. It is the only
way to truly reach the bottom of the canal. A slightly acid cleaner works well in managing
bacteria. I personally like Zymox, Hydro Surge ear cleaner and Davis boric acid flush.
Before flushing, though, remember to ask the owner if the pet has exhibited any sign of
eardrum damage. If so, do not flush!
CLEANING THE EARS
After gently plucking the ears, put the dog into the tub and flush and pack the ear canals.
Once the dog has been lathered the first time, place a fair amount of ear cleaning solution
in the canals again and massage the base of the ears. Let the dog shake its head, as this will
ZYMOX ( zymox.com) Ear Solutions for problematic ears
are enzyme-based products that are vet recommended,
work without antibiotics and are very easy to use. The
ZYMOX Ear Cleanser provides gentle cleaning plant
surfactants to clean away irritants and keep ears fresh.
Deep Cleaning Paw Fizz Tablets from Warren London
( warrenlondon.com) only take a three to five minute
soak to clean paws and nails. They help stop paw
licking with White Tea Tree Oil that fights fungus,
yeast and bacteria. The Seaweed Extract is also great
for conditioning and brightening the nails.
Davis Manufacturing ( davismfg.com) offers a line of
mild yet effective ear care products to help create and
maintain healthier ear environments. The popular EarMed
Boracetic Flush addresses ear conditions associated
with bacteria, yeast and fungi. It contains boric and acetic
acid to help provide relief for pets experiencing ear
inflammation, discharge, pruritis and head shaking.