Why is My Dog Shaking Head after Ear Plucking?

My Dog Shaking Head after Ear Plucking

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If you own a Poodle, a Bichon Frise, or any other thick-haired breed, you might have noticed massive hair growth in his ears. While many owners choose to not pluck the hair in the ears, it is highly recommended to get rid of them. Too much hair attracts dirt, dust, moisture, and heat. Not only does this make the ear look unsightly but it can also cause an infection.

When done right, ear plucking should not cause any issues for the dog. So, if you notice your dog is distressed after grooming, there may be a problem somewhere. As a guide here are probable reasons why a dog can shake its head repeatedly after having his ears plucked.

1. An Allergic Reaction To The Cleaner

Before plucking the ears, it is a good idea to use a dog-safe cleanser to loosen the dirt, get rid of debris and wax, and prevent the growth of micro-organisms. Unfortunately, some dogs may develop an adverse reaction to the cleaner. This reaction can be termed as an allergy which can cause swelling, redness, and some pain.

If the allergy is mild, the symptoms should go away after a few hours. However, if it is adverse, the dog might scratch his ears and shake his head to aggravate the irritation. Speaking of the cleaner, if you use too much of it (even if the dog is not allergic), your dog will try shaking his head to get rid of it. Take him to the vet to avert further problems.

2. Inappropriate Plucking Method

The actual plucking exercise can also cause irritation. There’s a lot that happens during grooming. First, you have to sit the dog down and try all you can to make him comfortable. This alone can be a real battle. Then the ear is pulled out repeatedly to get a good angle for plucking. Whether you are using tweezers or your fingers, there’s bound to be great discomfort for the dog while plucking.

Some pets are not used to tweezers and tools moving around their ears. Even people that use their hands can hurt the dog if they don’t know how to be gentle and pluck right. For instance, if you have long nails, you can scratch and bruise your fur baby’s skin and make it irritates. If you pluck too many hairs at once, he will feel pain for a while. In summary, the kind of plucking method used can cause an irritation that will linger and cause the dog to shake its head.

3. Prior Infection

Infection is also another major cause of dog shaking among dogs. Often times, canines with prior infection are the ones that suffer when it comes to ear plucking. The constant pulling and wiping alongside the cleaner can make the situation worse. Ideally, if your dog has an infection, you should not under any circumstance pluck his ear hair. Regrettably, most pet parents fail to catch the infection before plucking. Perhaps they didn’t check for an infection or that it was too early to show any signs. If your pup already has an infection, you would have noticed him scratching his ears and shaking his head. He may also release a foul smell from his ears. In this case, he will need to be properly treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and topical medication. Sometimes, he will require an Elizabethan collar to prevent scratching of the ears.

4. Natural Response to Tickling sensation

Finally, after removing ear hair, most dogs tend to feel tickling sensations as blood flows to the hair follicles. The tools used during plucking like tweezers may have also touched or scratched sensitive areas of the skin inside the dog’s ears, causing irritations. In such situations, shaking head is your dog’s natural way of responding to the tickle.

Final Thoughts

A dog that shakes his ears after plucking needs help. His ears could be infected badly. Perhaps he reacted adversely to the cleaner. Even if it is because of an inappropriate grooming method, your baby will require the attention of the vet.

Disclaimer: Treat this post as a general overview of the “dog shaking head after ear plucking” issue. Always consult your vet for specific information related to dog ear problems and general pet health.


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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.