Debi Hilley, Author

  • Debi Hilley has written articles for the GroomTeam USA newsletter, NEPGP newsletter, the Groomer's Gazette and publishes her own website, Grooming Smarter. Some of the topics she covers include wet clipping, dematting, using snap-on combs and grooming the Cocker Spaniel. Debi has written a book on CD for dematting and another for Teddy Bear head styling. Currently she is writing another book for every day pet grooming styles for use in the salon.

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June 28, 2009



I am thankfor for this article. I had a dog today in my shop that was severely matted (ALL OVER)right down to the skin. The ears and facial hair also...this was a Bearded Collie. I worked slowly however approximately 20 minutes after the groom was finished I noticed bleeding from the tips of the dogs ears. It was the first time this happened to me and it is not a pleasant experience. I'm not so sure I'll do another severely matted dog, while I know I did nothing wrong, its very hard to see it happen.


First, I can't tell you how thankful I am for this article. I'm so thankful that I feel its now my responsibility to share my experiences with everyone.

My Maltese/Lhasa Chicote' is almost 3 yrs old now and has had chronic bacteria/yeast related ear infections since he was about 7 or 8 months. Every 3-4 mnths he starts to shake his head so much that his ears flap on the sides of his head, and he scratches at his ear(s) almost violently. Inside the ear looks unusual, brownish, wrinkly, reddish.

Each time I've taken him to one of his two vets, we leave with oral antibiotics, mometamax or posatex (sp?) antibiotic cream, gentle ear cleaning solution, and a $300+ bill. The vets believed it was related to food allergies, gave me instructions on how to begin a food elimination diet/ limited ingredients, one protein source etc. or I could have him allergy tested for $600. I started the elimination diet. We've tried cutting out all proteins one by one, changed foods a few times- we're now on salmon in his dry food. He seemed to be doing ok other than being ticked off that his favorite tasty smoky chicken flavor treats went away.

I did notice that Chicote's ear infections seemed to happen whenever he was groomed, every 3-4 months or so. So I asked the groomer to be extra careful, not pluck his ears, not get any water under any circumstances in his ears. She assured me she was being careful, but it happened again. so i started grooming him myself my at home. the first time i did he got a terrible ear hematoma that scared me half to death. His ear blew up like a balloon and was red swollen and wrinkled. The vet gave us ear cleaning solution, the usual antibiotics, a protective cone for him to wear around his neck to keep from scratching his ear and irritating it further but this time she said he might need surgery because the hematoma might not heal on its own or with the antibiotics. And we'd have to watch him intently for 14 days straight. We alternated time off from work.

Fortunately the hematoma did heal. I'm convinced now from reading articles from this site that Chicote's ear healed because we combined massage (instinctively) whenever we applied his antibiotic cream. After this incident I didn't groom him at all until I felt we had to, which was about 4 days ago. I was intent on doing everything right and paying extreme attention. I used the cone around his neck while he was in the bath to make sure no water got in his ears, and I was extra careful when clipping his hair all around- I always use a scissor not clippers. I know I didn't get water in his ear and I'm pretty sure I didn't get hair in his ears either.

Today Chicote's left ear is infected again. And its only after reading this article that I feel I've learned something valuable. I now believe that its not the actual grooming per se, but its what it causes him to do- which is shake his head to get the falling hair off, and scratch at his ears. I think the irritation is being caused by so much shaking and scratching. It could also be that we don't need to clean his ears once a week (even if it is with vet recommended epi-otic cleaning solution) "getting down deep into the canal" with cotton balls either like the vet INSISTED.

What I've learned after thousands of dollars, a boat load of tears, and my pup suffering: 1) this breed is prone to ear infections and any grooming has to be undertaken with every precaution 2) lots of groomers are getting bad reps for not disinfecting their tools 3) most vets lack the experience or education to even consider what this article suggests.

If your dog is getting chronic ear infections this article may be your best friend.

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