Could hair in the ear be causing my dog’s recurrent ear infections?

Original Question: How do I get the hair out of my dog’s ears? He gets a lot of ear infections. - Yvonne

Could hair in the ear be causing my dog’s recurrent ear infections? Apr 25, 2018

Hi Yvonne,

Thanks for your question.

I find this question really interesting because I think you’ll find a wide variation in answers that you would receive from veterinarians. I’ll give you my answer but I’ll also deliver information in a responsible way, sharing with you what I know and also what we can’t be sure of.

In treating severe ear infections, I have plucked hair out of the ear to eliminate debris, wax and medication from getting caught in it. I only pluck the ears if I’ve given them a sedative and its part of a thorough cleaning of the ear canal. I believe it’s pretty painful otherwise. The way most veterinarians perform this is with an instrument called a hemostat. It’s used in surgery for holding and clamping down on blood vessels but an old pair is very effective at grabbing and plucking the hair.

If an infection is not present, I typically do not recommend plucking the hair out because there are lots of dogs that have significant ear hair and never get infections. You’ll also cause inflammation of the tissue by ripping the hair out and this could create an infection.

If your pet is experiencing chronic or recurrent ear infections, there are a lot more common issues that could be causing it than just ear hair. Contributing or causative factors could be a resistant bacterial infection, the presence of multiple bacteria, a concurrent yeast infection, underlying allergies, improper ear cleaning, or inconsistent or unideal medication delivery to name a few. I would recommend that you read our article “7 Key Strategies to Treat Ear Infections”. There is a lot of great advice to consider and raise with your veterinarian at your next appointment.

Keep in mind that advice and experience between veterinarians can differ greatly and the advice I provide is based on unique cases that I’ve treated and had success with. Your veterinarian may have had the same success through other treatment plans.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Dr. Clayton Greenway 

Disclaimer: and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.

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