Care and feeding of the Prima Bathing system
Getting Whites White (and keeping them that way)



Many groomers will never see this occur, but the vast majority of us will see it at some point and time. Since it is “summer shavedown season” and this problem is going to be seen more often during this time, I thought it was important to bring this to everyone’s attention.

There are two types of hematomas we will typically see on ears.

There is the ear that is full of blood, like a balloon, several things can cause that type of Hematoma.

  • Ear infections causing scratching or head shaking
  • Snoods left on too long
  • Rubber bands left around the ear leather not in the hair
  • Injuries to the ear

This type of hematoma, depending on the reason for the injury, can require surgery or may respond to simple massage.

Hematomas related to injury or infection will usually be the result of a broken blood vessel in the ear which prevents the blood from going where it is supposed to go and instead pooling in between the layers of tissue in the middle part of the ear. The tissue there is thick and can trap the blood in a pocket, making the ear fat, warm and tender.

Drainage of the blood from the area is required in most cases and usually a drain can be left in place to keep the blood from pooling again. In some cases this is sufficient to stop the hematoma and allow the ear to heal, but in most cases it is not. Surgery is generally required to cauterize the bleeder and prevent the ear from shriveling into what is often referred to as a cauliflower ear. This is not just an ugly even but it is uncomfortable for the pet as well.

Hematomas caused by restricted blood flow can usually be corrected rather quickly with massage. No further treatment is needed in most cases. What you do is remove the offending item and then hold the ear up, applying firm, steady pressure in a circular motion from the bottom of the hematoma towards the top, going slow and steady. The idea is to move the pooled blood back into the blood stream and out of the ear. It will take, depending on the type of dog and the size of the hematoma, between a half hour and an hour to move the pooled blood out of the ear. Steady pressure will slow help reduce the pooling, but the circular massage is the best technique.

I need to stress that ear hematomas that are caused by trauma, not by restricted blood flow, do not respond to massage! They need vet treatment. If you notice a problem during grooming, stop what you are doing and call the owner, strongly suggesting they take the dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Poodle ear tip


There is a second type of hematoma that we are more apt to see in the grooming salon. That is the type that affects the ends of the ear leather and causes seeping or dripping blood and sometimes splitting of the ear tips.


Poodle ear tip bleeding

There are several reasons we see this occur. Severe matting is the main cause of this occurring, but it can happen when no matting is present. Plucking of extremely hair ears, ear infections and clipper irritation are some of the other reasons.


Ear tip hair 



Matting restricts blood flow to the area of the body that it covers. In ears it is especially dangerous because the ear can become encased in mats causing all types of problems. When the ear hangs down the mats get wet in the water bowl and get food in them as well. They stay dirty.


Ear hair inside, next to ear

Dirty, wet hair that is tight to the skin is a recipe for disaster. Moisture as well as lack of blood flow weakens skin causing it to be thinner and more likely to tear or bleed. Removing mats quickly can cause a quick rush of blood into vessels surrounded by weakened tissue which then causes “bleeding out”. All it takes for this to happen is to shave an ear and have a dog shake its head one time.

In some cases where there is no matting and the ear is healthy, shaving the ear feels funny to the dog and he shakes his head a few times, causing the ears to hit each other or the head and the shaking causes the same kind of injury. You have to be aware that whenever you have a dog shaking his head, you run the risk of this happening.

There are things you can do to avoid this problem.

When the ears are matted severely, shave them down a little at a time, removing small amounts of hair in layers from both sides of the ear. After each section removed, go to another part of the dog. Then come back to the ear. If possible, split the matting with your shears or razor splitter and allow the ear to sit for a few minutes. This allows blood to return to the ear slowly, not all at once and the incidence of problems will be reduced.

Shave the ears while they are wet. It will help stop some of the irritation that can occur when removing tightly matted hair.

Don't pluck ear hair on ears that are traumatized or that you fear will be damaged. It is better to leave the hair and come back to it later or send the dog to the vet clinic to have the hair removed. If the ear is already prone to hematoma damage, then plucking will just make it more likely.

Poodle ear  

After shaving the ear, secure the ears to the head with a Happy Hoodie or vet wrap or even a sock cut to act like a head wrap if you are concerned this might happen or if it has already begun to happen. They must lay tight, so a snood is probably not enough to help very much. Monitor the dog to ensure the wrap stays in place and the ears are not bleeding out. Remove the wrap after a half hour and look at the ears. If you see no bleeding you are probably OK.

If you see bleeding or are really concerned it will happen, you can ice the ears as well. That will help restrict the blood vessels and slow the blood flow back into the area. As the ear will warm back up slowly from the ice being present it will help prevent the bleeding that can occur.

In the event you see bleeding or are concerned that it may happen call the owner and have them take the dog to their vet. Here in this area vets treat this type of injury with a steroid shot and generally antibiotics.

You have to be aware that this can happen and understand that it is neither your fault nor directly anything you did to cause it. The shaving of the ear did cause the problem to a degree but in the case of matted ears it was the matting that caused the problem. In the case of non matted ears you can, in most cases, find a secondary reason like infection, clipper irritation or shaking,  so it is not the clipping that does it but something else the clipping aggravates that actually causes it.

When we are aware that something can occur and prepared to deal with it, the clients and dogs are better off. Feel free to print this out and show it to clients and staff. This is an important lesson for every groomer to learn from.



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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