Ingrown Dog Whisker(s).
At least, they sound painful.
And chances are that if you are here, you suspect or may even know that your dog is suffering from them.
But how can you make sure? What do you need to do in response? Can you, as the owner, do anything to remove them?
Well today, I am going to delve into all of these questions; exploring it all from causes and symptoms to treatment and prevention methods, and drawing from scientific understanding and practical expertise.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
Can Dog Whiskers Become Ingrown?
Dog whiskers can indeed become ingrown, although this is a relatively rare occurrence. An ingrown dog whisker is a condition where the whisker, instead of growing outwards, starts growing back into the skin, which may cause discomfort or even lead to an infection in some cases.
It is, however, crucial to note that while it’s possible, the likelihood of ingrown whiskers is significantly less compared to other common issues like ingrown nails, mainly because whiskers have a different growth and shedding cycle.
Nevertheless, its essential that ingrown whiskers do not develop, or are treated.
That’s because whiskers, or vibrissae, are an essential sensory tool for dogs – helping them understand their surroundings and navigate the world.
When one of these important tactile hairs gets ingrown, it could potentially interfere with a dog’s sensory perception.
Not something we want!
What Causes Ingrown Dog Whiskers?
Trauma or Injury
If a dog’s whisker gets cut, broken, or otherwise damaged, it can disrupt the normal growth pattern of the whisker.
The new whisker growing in could then potentially start growing inwardly, leading to an ingrown whisker.
This is why it’s essential to ensure your dog’s facial area isn’t subjected to unnecessary roughness or harm.
A Dog’s Genetic Predisposition
Like many other physical traits, the pattern and characteristics of hair growth are inherited.
This includes not only the hair on a dog’s body but also their whiskers.
If a dog is genetically predisposed to have hair that grows in a certain way, it could increase the risk of an ingrown whisker.
Certain Breeds with Specific Hair Growth Patterns
For instance, breeds with coarse or curly hair may be at a higher risk, as the texture of their hair can cause it to grow in different directions, potentially leading to ingrown whiskers.
Similarly, dogs with skin conditions that cause inflammation or changes in the skin’s surface might also be more prone to this issue.
As a Result of Skin Infections or Inflammation
Inflammation can alter the normal structure and function of the skin and hair follicles, leading to changes in the way a whisker grows.
If the skin is inflamed, the whisker might start growing inward instead of outward, leading to an ingrown whisker.
This is why it’s vital to treat any skin infections or inflammatory conditions promptly and effectively, to minimize the risk of issues like ingrown whiskers.
What Does An Ingrown Whisker Look Like On A Dog?
An ingrown whisker can appear as a small hard lump, or as a swollen, red and warm area. Abscesses are also possible in the latter stages, or if an infection has taken hold.
Initially, an ingrown dog whisker may appear as a small, hard lump under the skin near the base of the whisker.
The lump might be tender to touch and may change in size as the whisker continues to grow inward.
As the condition progresses, you might notice symptoms of inflammation, such as redness, swelling, and warmth around the affected area.
In severe cases, the ingrown whisker could cause an abscess, which would look like a pus-filled lump on your dog’s face.
You might also observe your dog showing signs of discomfort, such as scratching or pawing at the affected area.
Do Ingrown Whiskers Hurt Dogs?
Ingrown whiskers can cause discomfort and pain for dogs, especially if left untreated. When a whisker grows inward, it can irritate the skin, leading to inflammation and even infection. You dog may scratch or paw at their face in an attempt to relieve – further worsening the issue.
As mentioned above, severe cases, the ingrown whisker can lead to the development of an abscess, a painful, pus-filled lump.
That has the potential for further pain to.
If the abscess bursts, it can lead to an open wound that can potentially become infected.
How Do You Treat An Ingrown Whisker On A Dog?
Treating an ingrown dog whisker primarily requires a visit to the veterinarian. The vet may need to carefully extract the ingrown whisker, which should never be attempted at home due to the risk of infection or further injury.
Once the ingrown whisker has been identified and removed, the vet might prescribe an antibiotic to ward off any potential infection.
If inflammation or discomfort is evident, a course of anti-inflammatories may also be suggested to alleviate your dog’s pain.
The area where the whisker was ingrown should then be kept clean and checked regularly to ensure it’s healing correctly and there are no signs of further complications.
This is particularly important if an abscess had developed as a result of the ingrown whisker, as these can sometimes require additional care and attention.
Should I Remove My Dog’s Ingrown Hair?
You should not attempt to remove your dog’s ingrown whisker at home. While it might be tempting to try and alleviate your pet’s discomfort, the risk of causing an infection or damaging the follicle is high, and you may also cause unnecessary pain to your dog.
It’s always best to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog has an ingrown whisker.
They can correctly diagnose the issue and provide safe and effective treatment.
Can Ingrown Hair on Dogs be Prevented?
While it’s impossible to prevent all cases of ingrown hairs on dogs, certain measures can reduce the likelihood of it happening.
Regular grooming, for instance, can help keep your dog’s skin and hair in healthy condition, making it less likely for problems like ingrown hairs to occur.
However, remember that whiskers are not the same as fur – they should never be trimmed or groomed, as this can potentially cause harm and increase the risk of an ingrown whisker.
For dogs that are more genetically predisposed to ingrown hairs, regular check-ups with the vet can help monitor any potential issues.
How to Prevent Ingrown Dog Whiskers
Keep Your Dogs Face From Damage
Preventing ingrown dog whiskers largely involves ensuring your dog’s facial area is not subjected to unnecessary trauma.
This means not allowing rough play that could cause damage to the whiskers, and never trimming or cutting your dog’s whiskers, as this can increase the chance of an ingrown whisker developing.
Ensure They Have Regular Health Check-ups
Your vet can often spot the early signs of a potential problem before it becomes serious, allowing for early intervention and treatment.
Also, make sure your dog is on a healthy diet as good nutrition can contribute to the overall health of your dog’s skin and hair, including whiskers.
Despite your best efforts, it’s important to remember that not all cases of ingrown dog whiskers can be prevented.
However, by maintaining regular veterinary care and keeping an eye on your dog’s wellbeing, you can ensure any issues are dealt with promptly and effectively.
How Much Do Vets Charge To Remove Ingrown Dog Whiskers?
On the lower end, a simple consultation and treatment for an ingrown whisker might range from $50 to $100. However, if the ingrown whisker has caused an abscess or other complications, the costs could be significantly higher, potentially reaching several hundred dollars. This is due to the need for additional treatments such as antibiotics, pain medications, or even minor surgery to drain an abscess.
That being said, the cost of having an ingrown dog whisker removed by a vet can vary widely depending on several factors.
These include the severity of the ingrown whisker, the geographic location, and the specific rates of the veterinary clinic or hospital.
It’s crucial to note that the wellbeing and comfort of your pet should always come first, and prompt veterinary attention can often prevent a relatively minor issue from developing into a more serious and costly problem.
Do Dog Whiskers Grow Back?
Dog whiskers do grow back after they fall out or are removed, although the process takes time.
If a whisker falls out naturally or is removed due to a problem such as an ingrown whisker, it can take several weeks or even months for the new whisker to fully grow in.
It’s important to remember that whiskers are a crucial sensory tool for dogs, and while they are growing back, your dog might have slightly reduced spatial awareness.
The rate at which a whisker grows back may depend on the dog’s age, breed, diet, and overall health.
However, if you notice a whisker has not grown back after several months or if multiple whiskers are falling out or becoming ingrown, it would be a good idea to consult with your vet, as it could be a sign of an underlying health issue.
Ingrown Dog Whiskers are possible, albeit considered rare.
They can develop from a wide range of causes, whether that be trauma, from genetic predisposition (and breed trait) or as the result of skin infections/inflammation.
You will know if your dog has one.
Hard lump(s), inflammation or an abscess in advanced cases.
And while we want to help our dogs, treatment should be left to a professional veterinarian, as home removal could cause more harm than good.
That being said, preventative measures can and should be taken – mostly by ensuring your dog’s facial area is kept free from unnecessary trauma and maintaining regular check-ups with the vet.
Remember, a dog’s diet and overall health can play a significant role in preventing such conditions.
Lastly, rest assured that if a whisker does fall out or is removed, it will grow back, although the process takes time.
Ultimately, being armed with the right knowledge can ensure swift and appropriate action when necessary.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.