Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Hairy Situations – Canine Ear Hair Hazards

This whole ear hair episode with Daisy got me thinking about how few of us dog owners are prepared for these types of situations. We were never told that Daisy was descended from breeds that typically require plucking, nor did we ever know such issues existed. So I decided to look into it a little more to hopefully save other dog owners from what happened to that poor puppy at the vet’s office, which I mentioned in a previous post.

I'm so much more comfortable after my plucking!

From what I’ve read, almost any dog breed that needs regular hair cuts will need to have their ears plucked. Some dogs are lucky and don’t have to have this done, even though they fit the category.

It’s important to have this procedure done because not only are dogs with this issue so uncomfortable that they continually scratch and scratch inside their ears, which can cause problems, but the ear hair blocks the ear canal and causes it to become moist and prone to infections….and they hurt.

Also, the groomer told us about one dog whose owners waited far too long to bring their dog in for plucking. The ear hair had grown to a length of 5-6 inches long, stretching deep into the ear canal. It became entangled and clotted with ear wax, which had formed a block and impaired the dog’s hearing. The groomer had a very difficult time cleaning all this out, and I’m sure it wasn’t too comfortable for the dog, either.

In a normal case of ear hair plucking, groomers apply a type of powder to the inner ear that makes the hair easier to pluck. Some groomers say it also takes the edge off any pain the dog may feel, others say it doesn’t. Every dog reacts differently – some yipe at first and others just take it in stride. But even those that initially yipe get used to it over time, and the ear also “toughens up” enough to lessen any pain.

There are websites that explain how owners can pluck their own dog’s ear hair, but personally, I think that’s a job best left to a professional. But in order to fully understand what’s going on, here’s a good website:

Grooming Basics 101 Article: http://www.petgroomer.com/grooming101/articles/ear_cleaning-revised.htm.

As proven by the owners who let their dog’s ear hair get so out of control, it’s best to do what’s necessary for a dog’s grooming and health, which many times go hand-in-hand, even if it seems distasteful to us.

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Hair Plucking Outcome

I'm back from the groomer!

Well, this certainly was a happy surprise – Daisy actually liked the experience of having her ear hairs plucked! “What a little weirdo!” I thought!

But it seems that the thick cluster of ear hairs that had grown inside her ears was bothering her so much, it was actually a relief to have them plucked. The groomer said that we might hear some “screams” with the first couple of plucks (dear God!), but she assured us that everything would be okay and that Daisy would get used to it quickly. In fact, she offered to let us stay in the room if we wanted. We didn’t.

We waited and waited and…no screams, no shrieks, not even a yip – nothing! It was all over in 5 minutes, and when the groomer came out with a happy Daisy in her arms, she said that Daisy was only the second dog she’s had who took to the plucking immediately. As she plucked, Daisy made a kind of purring sound (that contented sound that dogs make when they’re sleepily scratching just the right spot) and her back leg made gentle scratching motions like dogs do when we pet them in their “itch zones”.

The groomer said her ears would be a little red on the inside for a bit and she’d be scratching a lot at first, but not to worry. That’s exactly what happened – she was constantly scratching and shaking her head around for the first 5-10 minutes she was home, then everything settled down and there was no more scratching or shaking.

We’d noticed that the ear hair had begun bothering Daisy immensely over the past week. She was constantly scratching the inside of her ears and complaining with high-pitched whines that were like small, pitiful cries, which were just pathetic to hear. Even though I really didn’t want to subject Daisy to what I thought would be a torturous procedure, it was clear that we had no choice. She was suffering as it was, and 5 minutes of potential plucking pain was minimal compared to daily discomfort and the pain of an eventual infection.

That’s what the vet said would happen if we didn’t have her ear hair plucked soon – ear infections. In fact, on our last vet visit, the person after us was there for just that reason – an ear infection his dog caused by scratching earfuls of unplucked hair. The groomer told us of the worst case she’d ever seen – a dog with huge hair mats in the ear canal, and the hair had grown down into the canal to a length of about 5-6 inches long; ear wax had become lodged in the hair, causing not only ear pain, but also a loss of hearing. A brief session of hair plucking is nothing compared to all that!

Our visit to the groomer turned into a real social time for Daisy. Not only had she made friends with everyone who worked there (they’d never seen a Havachon before and made such a fuss over her!), but she made friends with a Chorkie – a Chihuahua-Yorkie mix – who was 2 years old but the same size as Daisy is at 6 months. They romped and played and sniffed and chased toys and had a wonderful time together.

The whole thing ended up being a very positive experience in every way!

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