About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Dogs Listen Better

I truly do believe that my furry customers listen to me better than their owners.
If I had a dollar for every time a customer calls or brings their dog in to ask me what is wrong with their dog, I could have retired 10 years ago.

It is nice to have your customers trust you enough to ask your opinion about something, but most of the time I think they are just trying to save a Vet fee if they ask me first.
That is when we, as groomers, walk a tight rope.
Believe me, I do not pretend to know everything about dogs, much less everything pertaining to the animal medical field.

I have had so many customers call with simple questions that the Veterinarian staff will not answer over the phone.
The standard answer seems to be "We need to see the dog."
So what does the customer do?
They call me to ask if they really need to see the Vet.  :/

 Today I had a Wheaton in for a grooming.
As her owner started to leave, after dropping off the dog, he said...
"Oh yeah, do you check the ears?"
"Yes," I answered. 
"We pluck the ears and clean them," I continued.
"Oh..well..can you check her left ear and let me know what you think?"

I assured him that I would.
I was pretty sure I knew what I was going to find.

 I was right.

Only, this was not her left ear.

I have read a lot of comments on grooming boards, and have hired groomers that refuse to clean out ears like this.
Some feel that it is the Vet's job.

Well, I don't know about other groomers out there, but these ears always come back to me with instructions from the Vet for me to clean them out, or the Vet gives the owner medication but does not bother to clean the ear out.

I worked at a Veterinarian/Kennel for my second year of grooming.
The Vet was always sending dogs down to me to clean out the ears.
This particular Vet had me pour a ear solution into the ears, rub the ears, and then take the hose and flush the ears out.

Yes, actually spray the water down into the ear, then let the dog shake it all out.
Boy, did some rank stuff come out of those ears.
I don't remember what the name of the ear cleaner was, but I loved the smell of that stuff.
It really did the job.
Only a Vet could get it.

No, I know longer clean ears that way.
That was done under a Vet's care.

 I do clean all my furry customers ears out, no matter how bad or yucky they are.

Unless the dog gets upset, then it is the Vet's job whether he/she wants it or not.  :)

This ear was so full of moisture.
Grayish/brown, yucky, stinky, thick moisture.

How's that for a description?

So I packed the ear with ear powder, and rubbed it in good to soak up some of the moisture.

I usually like to use my fingers to pluck the ears, or my clamp-less forceps, and take the hair out a little at a time.

There was no way I could get a good hold of this slippery, yucky stuff.
So I used my locking clamp forceps, clamped as much hair as possible to get as much hair out as quickly as possible.

 This is what came out.

This is what was left after the first pluck.

The rest I could get with my fingers.

 I used cotton balls and Q-Tips, with ear cleaner to clean out a lot of the grayish/brown, yucky, thick stuff.

How do you like my technical descriptions?
I try.  :)

I do not put the Q-Tip down into the ear canal.
I just use it to clean out all of the upper crevices.

I saved the hair and the cotton balls in a little plastic bag for the customer.

This dog would have been a great candidate for the ear flushing.

I have had customers come back to me to tell me that the Vet could not find anything wrong with the ears because I cleaned them too well.
So now I give the customers the mess I got out of the ears as a gift for the Vet. :)

I shaved the inside of the ear leather to help clean it up and help the ears get some air into them.

This was the ear the owner actually wanted me to check.

What do I think?

I think this poor dog should have seen a Vet a while ago.

I did the same treatment on this ear as the other.

Believe it or not, this was the better ear.

She was so good about the ear cleaning.

I think she really felt better.

But, it will only last for a short while.

I guarantee that the right ear will be oozing grayish/brown, yucky stuff before she goes home.

I gave the little baggies with the hair and cotton balls to the owner.

"You need to take her to the Vet for her ears," I told him.
"I do? Was the ear that bad?" he looked puzzled.
"Yes. Both of them are bad, especially the right ear," I told him.
"The right one is bad? Did you pluck the hair out?" he asked.
"Yes, and I cleaned them. That is some of the stuff I got out of her ears," I said,pointing to the cotton balls. 
"I am sure that the right ear is a mess again now." I added.
"Really? he exclaimed, in an amazed tone.
"But you did pluck the hair out, right? he asked.
"Yes...," I stared to say.
"You got all of the hair out...of both ears? he asked me again.
"We have been dealing with this problem before. I have medicine at home." he continued.
"I would still go to the Vet. This may be something different," I told him.
"She has had this before," he repeated.
"I would check the medicine before you use it to make that it has not expired," I said, trying a different tactic. 
"It goes bad?" he asked, surprised.

I will lay a bet right now that that dog will not see a Vet.  :(
It is not that I think they don't care about the dog, I can tell that they do.
I am pretty sure that this owner thinks the ears will get better because I got the hair out of them.

I learned a long time ago that owners only hear a fraction of what I say.
This dog will most likely come in a couple more times before I get it through to them to take the dog to the Vet.

I will continue to try.
I will always do everything to help the dog.
I will also try to get through to the owners.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Wow, I think I'm living your life!

    Yep, I can't diagnose your dog. And I definitely can't diagnose your dog over the phone! No, you can't use the medication every couple of days for a couple of weeks and expect it to work (especially if you got the meds a "few years ago") if you were told to use it twice a day, every day, for 2 weeks. No, you can't assume that this is the same thing as last time.

    And yes, I know you love your dog. I just wish you would show it.

  2. I find it strange that a lot of veterinarians do not do the dogs ears when they are that bad. My dog came to me with such bad triple infections in both ears (that hadn't been cleaned since he was 2 months old- and he was now a year and a half!) and was in so much pain we rushed him to the emergency vet on the weekend because we were certain he was dying from the ears on inward.

    Back then, our vet guesstimated that our dog would probably always have frequent chronic ear infections and go deaf around middle age. With proper care from the veterinarian, his old groomer and now me- the dog is now 5 and a half years old and has not had an ear infection in 2 and a half years.

  3. Silly question...is that what an ear infection looks like? Do they always look like that?

    1. No question is a silly question Kasi, when you are trying to learn. :)

      The ears pictured above are infected, or this may have been ear mites. Ears with ear mites usually have a black gooey discharge (sometimes crusty) and a really bad smell. You can only see that mites under a stethoscope.

      Lisa, MFF

  4. Ok, I love these nasty posts! There is something SO satisfying in getting something this disgusting and finishing with it clean and dry!
    -Elizabeth, UT

  5. Would you mind sharing what you use to clean ears? Not to pluck, but to actually get the grime off. At school we were taught to use baby wipes and just wondered what your thoughts are on it. Thanks so much for all the great info!