Hairy Ears – To Pluck or Not to Pluck?

Did You Know?

Epithelial migration is a process of self-cleaning and repair mechanism of the ear canals and ear drums. During epithelial migration, the old cells within the ear are gradually transported from deep within the ear canals (near the ear drums) then out to the surface1.


New Theories on Ear Plucking

Traditionally, it has been recommended that all dogs should have hair-free ears and ear plucking has been a routine component of dog grooming. However, recent evidence has revealed that ear plucking in the normal, healthy ear may not be necessary. Excessive ear plucking may inadvertently result in micro-trauma and inflammation to the ear canals and this may predispose your dog to an ear infection. Ear plucking may still be necessary for dogs with a history of ear infections since plucking minimises trapping of excess ear debris. If your pet has frequent ear infections, check with your veterinarian whether the ear hairs should be plucked.

A good alternative to ear plucking would be the trimming of excessive long hairs from the ear. This may help reduce the amount of “ear wax” that gets trapped in the ear hairs thereby minimising the ear odour. Have a chat to the groomer when your dog is next scheduled for a grooming appointment.


Ear Cleaning at Home

Ear cleaning can help reduce the incidence of ear problems. Some pets are prone to ear problems and may need regular ear cleanings between veterinary and grooming visits. Ear cleaning can help remove dirt and wax that builds up as a normal part of epithelial migration (“self-cleaning”). It can also reduce the buildup of germs (e.g. bacteria or yeast) that may contribute to inflammation or infection.

Ear cleaning can be relatively easy to do at home, as long as you follow a few simple guidelines – schedule an appointment with one of our nurses who can demonstrate the correct ear cleaning procedure. Because some ear cleansers may contain chemicals that may be harsh on the delicate ear canals, it is important to use only products recommended by your veterinarian. If for any reason, your pet becomes agitated or the ear cleaning procedure is excessively painful for your pet, stop and seek veterinary advice.


Signs of Ear Trouble

 The above information is provided for educational purposes only and not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional veterinary medical advice, diagnosis or treatment; and should not be relied on solely as veterinary advice. If you are worried your pet may be having some ear troubles, please phone us on (06) 3588675 to book them in for a check over.
Parts of this information sheet have been adapted from the Vetlearn Compendium Care Guides.



1 Tabacca NE, Cole LK, Hillier A and Rajala-Schultz Paivi (2011). Epithelial migration on the canine tympanic membrane. Veterinary Dermatology 22 (6): 502-10.



Published by Cahill Animal Hospital on 18 July 2016
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