Since the only time many pets get their ears cleaned is when they are professionally groomed, it is important that groomers choose appropriate cleansing products and use proper technique to help keep ears healthy.
“I think that what happens is that a dog may come in to be groomed and have some slight ear problem going on that the owner isn’t even aware of,” Lisa Christensen, of Chris Christensen Systems, Inc., said. “Then the groomer uses an alcohol based cleaner and that inflames the inside of the already sensitive ear. Suddenly the dog is showing signs of discomfort and the owner thinks it is the groomer’s fault.”
Chris Christensen’s Mystic Ear Cleaner is a product designed to gently remove wax and debris without causing any irritation.
EZ Groom has two different ear products they sell.
“Ear Magic is our medicated, all natural, oil based cleanser,” Eddie Marshall, of EZ Groom, said. “We recommend it be used before the bath. It has aloe vera and wintergreen oil in it. Wintergreen is known as ‘nature’s aspirin,’ so this is very soothing if the dog has sore ears. It is recommended by the American Cocker Spaniel club.”
Their second product is Ear Magic II.
“This formula is non-greasy, has a base of purified water and contains citric acid,” he explained.
Popular cleaners can come in alcohol based, oil based or water based formulas, with a variety of active ingredients to help control things like yeast and bacteria that owners hope to discourage from growing in the warm, dark, moist environment that dogs’ ears offer.
When choosing and using professional products for ears, groomers should read labels and be certain that the product is safe and appropriate for the pet they are using it on.
If the animal’s ear has a discharge, refer the customer to their veterinarian for cleansing and care.
“Don’t clean the ear first,” Dr. Kate Pierce, of Penbay Veterinary in Rockport, Maine, said. “The vet may want to swab and culture the discharge in order to determine the appropriate treatment.”
If a groomer is grooming a breed of dog that routinely has hair plucked from the ear canal, and the ear is already looking inflamed, avoid plucking, which can further exacerbate the situation.
One good cleaning technique is to moisten a cotton ball in cleanser and gently wipe dirt, wax and debris up and out of the ear. Make sure to choose 100 percent cotton balls. Some synthetic blended products can leave irritating fibers behind.
If using cotton swabs, they should never be inserted deeper inside the ear than can be seen. To do so risks damaging the delicate inner ear.
Use oil-based cleaners before the bath so any leftover residue will be washed away, and when using an alcohol-based cleaner, make sure the dog does not shake its head and get any of the product in its eyes.
If you are a groomer who owns your own shop, consider selling retail sized bottles of your favorite product to customers. Add in a free lesson on how to properly use it, as a bonus.