Accidentally Cut Your Dogs Ear While Grooming? Here’s What to Do

If you cut your dog’s ear while grooming them, the first step is to keep your dog steady and analyze the damage. If it’s a small cut, you likely won’t need to go to the vet. However, deep cuts that bleed quite a bit will require a visit to the vet. 

Grooming your pooch is a task that takes time and patience. The simplest and least risky solution is to pay a professional groomer to get the job done for you, ensuring your dog looks their best and avoiding nasty accidents that can occur from the clumsy tremors of untrained hands.

But you may not be able to afford a professional groomer, or you might not trust that another person will be as diligent as you are when trimming your pup’s hair or nails the correct way or the correct length. But be warned – accidents can happen. One of the more common ones is unintentionally nicking or slicing a dog’s skin.

One of the more sensitive areas to look out for and take your time with is around or inside a dog’s ears. Ears are known to bleed a lot because there are many blood vessels near the skin’s surface on the ear flaps.

Dogs also have a hard time sitting still. Their sudden movements and shaking heads can make an open and bleeding wound a whole lot worse.

All it takes is your best buddy suddenly turning their head mid-trim with a sharp pair of scissors or clippers for something bad to happen.

If an accident does occur and your dog’s ears are accidentally cut and bleeding, here are some helpful hints for what to do.

Keep Your Dog Steady

You know your dog better than anyone, so it’s likely the case that you already know what the best way to secure them and hold them steady is in any scenario that comes along, especially an emergency one. Some helpful tips:

For the Tiny Furballs

For small dogs, get them on a counter or table. This gives them little room to move around and allows you to get a better handle on them.

For the Big Buddies

For large dogs, get down on the ground with them. Being face to face and making eye contact with them may have a calming effect. It also allows you to act like an anchor on the unruly sea of pain your dog may have to endure.

Phone a Friend

Get a partner, family member, friend, etc. (someone the dog trusts already would be best) to help hold your buddy while you perform the necessary trauma procedures. Your dog must be familiar with the person that holds them while you try to make the best of a bad situation.

Muzzle Up

If your dog is known to bite when nervous or hurt, use a muzzle to secure its jaw. You can buy these at any pet store or online, and your vet might be able to recommend the best option for situations like this one. In a pinch, a leather belt may also work.

Do What Works

Do whatever works best. Like I said before, you know your dog the best. Chances are the best solution for keeping them steady will come from you.

Analyze The Damage

Cuts come in all shapes and sizes – some bleed a lot and some bleed very little. Because that’s the case, your treatment options may differ a bit.

Just a Scratch

Small gashes and cuts do not require a visit to the vet if you take the appropriate steps, but consulting your vet is still recommended. The amount of blood you see is key when it comes to wounds on a dog’s ear. If it is not bleeding a lot, follow these steps.

If the cut is small and your dog’s ear is not bleeding badly:

  1. Wash the cut with warm water.
  2. Dry with clean towels (paper or cloth is acceptable).
  3. Clean the wound again with a non-stinging antiseptic solution like Chlorhexidine.
  4. Apply any triple antibiotic, anti-bacterial ointment to the wound (avoid any product that contains a corticosteroid like hydrocortisone).
  5. Try to prevent your dog from disturbing the area for at least 10 minutes or more. A light, loose bandage might be acceptable to prevent them from licking or rubbing the area.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 2 or 3 times a day until the skin is healed.
  7. Inspect the ear for any irritation or redness that occurs in the days and weeks that follow.
  8. And finally, consult your vet if you or your pup feel uncomfortable. Your vet can provide additional care and assessment of the wound if they think it is necessary. Ideally, you’ll want to consult with them to avoid taking any chances with infection or loss of ear functions, even if it seems like just a tiny cut.

The Deepest Cut

Large and/or deep cuts that bleed quite a bit require a visit to the vet – no question about it. If a deep and bleeding wound will not slow after applying pressure to the wound for several minutes, consulting your doggie’s doctor or any available vet is the only option. But before rushing your buddy anywhere, first, you’ll have to stop the bleeding.

The quick and dirty

  1. Immediately apply pressure with a clean towel or large gauze pad to tamp down the bleeding. Depending on what you have handy and how still you can keep your dog, you have a couple of options to secure the wound.
  2. Quickly releasing the towel or pad, promptly fold the ear over the top of your dog’s head and immediately re-apply pressure.
  3. Wrap the towel around their head and secure it with whatever household items you have available to do so. Duct tape or large rubber bands would be ideal if regular household items are all you have on hand.
  4. Rush to the nearest emergency facility that you know and trust to treat your dog.

For the Canny Canine Lover

  1. If you are prepared with medical supplies for any health emergency involving your dog, you’ll have these available: a self-adhering roll of flex bandage, large gauze pads, and a set of medical shears.
  2. Take a large gauze pad and apply pressure to the wound, eventually folding the ear on top of the head, just like in the quick and dirty option.
  3. Wrap the gauze pad tightly with the roll of self-adhering flex bandage, but not too tight (tight enough so that you can slide one or two fingers under the bandage without the pad moving or sliding out of place).
  4. Cut the flex bandage with your medical sheers and ensure it is adhered and secure.
  5. Rush to the nearest emergency facility available that you know and trust will treat your dog.

The Trick of Treatment

After your pup is out of danger (hopefully having received excellent treatment from a vet for their wound), your vet will likely supply you with some version of an Elizabethan collar to ensure your dog does not scratch, lick or rub their wound while it heals.

Chances are you’ve encountered one of these in your life – it looks like a large plastic cone that wraps around the dog’s head so that it cannot reach those sensitive areas. (Its name comes from those fluffy collars often worn by women in Elizabethan times, hence the name “Elizabethan collar.”) It’s also been referred to as an “E-collar,” “Buster collar,” or just plain old “pet cone.”

It is highly recommended you acquire one of these regardless because some dogs are prone to ear infections. Having one handy is a lifesaver when you need to keep your dog away from their ears.

If your dog’s ears are of the floppy variety, the vet will likely require that you continue to fold the ear over the top of their head and wrap it with a flex bandage, much like you did when you had to perform your emergency scenario to stop the bleeding. Ears that stick straight up likely won’t have to endure this particular type of treatment torture.

Avoid the Trauma of Cutting and Running

In the end, you got your dog the help they needed after a little grooming snafu, ensuring they continued to live a happy and healthy life. And hopefully, the next time you decide to give your pup a trim, you’ll consider a professional so you can avoid the emotional rollercoaster of performing trauma surgery on your four-legged friend.

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