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Thread: Experience having your dog's ear canal removed?

  1. #1
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    Experience having your dog's ear canal removed?

    I've just returned from a specialist veterinary referral hospital. I have a 9 year old 200 lb landseer Newf. He is in great health with one exception... After years of chronic ear infections and trying every medicine possible, the lining of his ear canal has thickened to the point where his ear canal is almost closed. He still has an infection and is in constant discomfort. The specialist recommends removing the ear canal, thus getting rid of growth and permanently solving the issue of infection. He would lose most of his hearing in that ear if any still remains. His other ear is fine, it's just the left one.

    I find the thought of surgery horrifying. The vet told me that this is becoming fairly common surgery on cocker spaniels due to a predisposition to infections, etc. Has anyone had this surgery performed on their dog? Were you happy with the result?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Oh goodness. We just started our fourth round of abx on the current, never-ending ear infection my lab has. Just one ear. Reading this makes me very concerned.

    I don't have any advice but I hope your little guy gets better. It seems like such a drastic step but if it would relieve constant discomfort I could understand going that route.

  3. #3
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    1) have you done a food trial?
    2) yes it is common
    3) they usually do just fine with it
    "I worry that you don't worry enough"--another worrier aka the Yarn Harlot

  4. #4
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    Doglady, My 15 year old lab is heaidng intor surgery in an hour to reomve a huge growth on and in his eye so I know what you mean freaking out about surgery. He had a growth on his other eye about three years ago. I have never heard of that kind of surgery, I think he would do just fine.

    Laurie

  5. #5
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    I've never heard of it and it would be very hard to make that kind of call, but if that ear canal closes up and is infected, he loses his hearing and can't be treated well without surgery to open it up anyway. You know he is suffering now, so I'd check it out and trust our resident vet and your vet.

  6. #6
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    Thank you everyone for your replies. I'm quite upset because I don't want see him suffer either before surgery or as a result of surgery. He is such sweet little dog.. Aren't they all.

    I agree, this is a drastic step. In the past few years he has endured countless ear infections. I have gone the food allergy route, when there was no difference, I had his blood tested for 250 allergens, only mites returned a strong positive so he is now on week.y allergy shots and my house has never been cleaner.

    Two months ago he had yet another ear infection that was not responding to antibiotics so I had that swab sent to the lab... Psedunomas. The effective antibiotic cost 500. For a month. One week after finishing that course of meds he had goo flowing out of his ear. He is a very large dog. His ear canal is the size of my pinky finger and at the moment is comp,etely blocked. I can see this growth and it seemed to come out of nowhere. Even if an antibiotic were to stop the infection, the growth would remain.

    The specialty vet hospital is 3 hrs from here. He has an appt tomorrow at 7:30 am to be dropped off for surgery. I truly hope that I am doing the right thing for him.

    This doesn't even factor in the $4800. Cost for the procedure.

    I hope he will be ok. I had hoped someone would be able to say, oh, yeah, my dog had that and he is doing great. 9 years old heading into surgery, I feel as if I'm sending him to his end.

    Thanks again for the feedback.

  7. #7
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    Reminds me of a saying that minor surgery is anything that isn't yours. I felt the same way when my son had his tonsils out. Everything went very well and we even learned that he really did need them out more than we thought. Hope you get a better than expected result too.

  8. #8
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    I hope everything works out well for your Newf. I had two wonderful Newfs. I live in RI and we had one of our girls at Tufts for a knee surgery. I just would make sure the doctor is familiar with Newfs. Cocker spaniels and newfs are very different at 9 or 10 years old!! I know that Tufts and Angell Memorial have great reputations as animal hospitals in the area. Please let us know how your pet does. Sending your good thoughts!

  9. #9
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    How's he doing? Hope all is well.

  10. #10
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    Hi Everyone -

    I thought I would post an update about Elvis. If it is too graphic or TMI, I apologize, but I also hope it may help someone else in a similar situation.

    Wedesday morning I drove down and dropped him off for surgery. The way they proceed is to perform a CT scan of his head first, so they get a clear look at both ear structures and know how to proceed. The right ear looked great, yeah! That means that he does not need surgery on the right ear and would still retain hearing in that ear.

    The left ear showed that the middle ear is full of fluid and both the vertical and horizontal ear canals are almost completely blocked with scar tissue. Not only that, but the scan also showed a small growth outside of the ear canal that was wrapped around the canal. The growth could be anything. Of course my first thought was some type of cancerous growth.

    The surgeon called me to explain and asked if I wanted to continue with the surgery as there was no telling what that other growth was. Well, yes, I do want to continue with surgery. This scan also told me that he had probably already lost his hearing in the left ear a long time ago, and that no amount of antibiotics or drops was going to alleviate the pain or the problem.

    Yesterday he had surgery.

  11. #11
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    So, late yesterday afternoon/early evening the surgeon called to let me know that they had finished that Elvis was waking up. Yeah for that!

    He was very pleased with the surgery. As it turns out, the growth on the outside of the ear canal was in fact a part of the canal scar tissue. The ear canal had ruptured and part of the scar tissue had "herniated" out and wrapped itself around the canal. The ear drum was unrecognizable. The middle ear itself was full of fluid but other than that, was in pretty good shape. And as bad as the news about the ruptured ear canal was, it was actually good news... it was not a foreign malignant mass that they saw on the CT scan, it was tissue from the interior of the ear canal.

    Bottom line, poor Elvis really needed this surgery. I can't imagine the pain the poor little guy was in, a ruptured ear canal? Of course he could not hear out of the ear. And again, all the antibiotics and ear drops in the world would not alleviate these issues.

    Now I am second guessing myself over the course of treatments during the past few years, wondering if I should have seen a specialist sooner and am wondering about the effectiveness and necessity of the allergy shots he is currently taking.

    I have gone from being totally horrified at the thought of this type of surgery on Monday, to be thrilled that he had it performed. He will be in some pain and on pain meds and antibiotics for a few weeks. The sutures will be removed in two weeks. The doctor said that I can expect to see a change in his personality now that he won't be in constant discomfort.

    I will drive down to the hospital, it's in Portsmouth NH, tomorrow morning to pick him up.

  12. #12
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    I will try to post a photo, so you can put a furry face to the story. Although you can't really tell from the photo, he is a big guy. When he sits, his head is above mine when I'm sitting next to him, and I'm 5'8" !


  13. #13
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    Jake is sitting here with me and I told him Elvis is doing great, he gave a huge bark! He is doing fantastic only 3 days post surgery, I know Elvis will too.

    Don't beat yourself up on second guessing, I think dogs can hide their real pain well and only when we get something fixed do we really see how much they hurt. I am so glad you found the real problem and no cancer growths.

    Make sure you bring home a cone if you need it. Jake was already trying to scratch yesterday and can't be left alone one minute without it.

    BTW, Elvis is beautiful! I have never seen a newfie coloring like that.

    Big (((Hugs))) and a speedy recovery to Elvis.

    Laurie

  14. #14
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    That's a big dog! So glad he is doing well and that you are feeling relief about having him have the surgery. And that wasn't nearly as graphic as I thought it might be with a warning issued.

    ETA: Glad to hear Jake is still doing great. Both of you enjoy a weekend of hugs and unconditional love.

  15. #15
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    I've never seen anything but a dark brown/black Newfie! So glad he's doing better! As for second-guessing -- don't! Dogs are very stoic about pain -- rarely give any signs of it, except acting different in some way. You've fixed the problem, now, and you'll probably see a much happier dog when he heals! So glad there was no malignancy!!!
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

  16. #16
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    So glad to hear that the surgery went well. I agree that its so hard to know what to do when they get sick - they do hide the pain. We almost lost our 16 yo dachshund last week to an ear infection. Fortunately she is ok now.
    Another thing - one of our dogs needed to wear a collar all the time toward the end and he hated the hard plastic one. There is an inflatable one that works so much better. It was like he was resting his head on a pillow.
    Hope things continue to go well.

  17. #17
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    Kevlar, a question about the inflatable collar. My problem with Jake is rubbing his eye on the carpet, the plastic cone keeps him from doing this. Would this inflatable work for this? I looked it up and have a hard tome visualing it, I don't think it would

    Thanks

    Laurie

  18. #18
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    Kevlar, a question about the inflatable collar. My problem with Jake is rubbing his eye on the carpet, the plastic cone keeps him from doing this. Would this inflatable work for this? I looked it up and have a hard tome visualing it, I don't think it would

    Thanks

    Laurie

  19. #19
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    Doglady, here is a site that has some good collar alternatives, I would sugges one of these options because the cone they are going to give you stinks, it is hat cumbersome white one in the picture.
    http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/iss...s_20037-1.html

    Laurie

  20. #20
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    Thanks for that link -- it's impossible for my boys to use their doggy door if they're wearing one of those stupid cones! That collar thing looks perfect!!! Our vet actually made something like that from a bath towel, folded several times and duct-taped together! No extra charge for the towel.
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

  21. #21
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    Kay, Jake has the large plastic Kong cone and I cut it way down, just so his nose sticks out a bit so he can get out of the dog door door. He has used it this way for years due to hots spots so hopefully I can find something more confortable, I like the look the of collapsable cone.

  22. #22
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    Thanks for the link. The standard Elizabethean collar never worked long for my dogs - they would trash it enough that it would bend and they could lick whatever or chew out stainless steel stitches. I think the pro collar would work or possibly the bite not. Either would also make it possible to get a large dog through the car door with out having to remove and refasten - similar to your pet door example LakeMartinGal.
    Anne

  23. #23
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    I didn't respond to the original post because while we'd had experience with the surgery in one of our cocker spaniels, they did find a mass in one of Munchkin's ears that turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma. She survived 6 months past the surgery. She was only 10 years old. The surgery had nothing to do with her passing, but once they found the growth, we knew her time was limited.

    I am so glad your experience has been different! Please give Elvis a hug for us - I have been thinking of him.

    Michelle

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurielee View Post
    Kay, Jake has the large plastic Kong cone and I cut it way down, just so his nose sticks out a bit so he can get out of the dog door door. He has used it this way for years due to hots spots so hopefully I can find something more confortable, I like the look the of collapsable cone.
    Thanks, Laurie -- good to have a personal recommendation. I think I might get one of two of the things to have on hand -- one of my Goldens has a licking issue, and it drives us nuts, though I hate to keep him on prednisone all the time...
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

  25. #25
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    Doglady, How is Elvis? Was he able to come home?


    Laurie

  26. #26
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    What a Handsome Guy Elvis is!! I too had never seen a Newfie in this color. I hope he's home now (or on the way soon) and resting comfortably while he heals.

  27. #27
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    Sorry I didn't get to look at this today. The inflatable collar would keep a dog from dragging his eyes on the floor, I think. He would really have to contort to get the eyes on the floor. It worked for Max and it seemed comfortable.

  28. #28
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    Hi -
    I just wanted to follow-up. Elvis came home last Saturday. The first couple of days were tough, on me and Elvis! He was uncomfortable even with pain meds, and I spent Sat and Sun nights on the floor patting him. Didn't really sleep much.

    Even with antibiotics there has been a lot of discharge from the incision site so it has been slow to begin healing. I've driven back and forth to the hospital 4 times since Saturday, 5 hour round trip plus visit, pretty much takes the day.

    Underneath his ear flap, with the exception of the still-healing incision, the area just looks like smooth skin. Nothing gross about it at all. Once his fur grows back on the ear flap, you'd never guess he had this procedure done.

    He seems to be doing really well, happy and active. There is no discernable difference in his hearing and his balance has been unaffected. So far so good. Well see as the weeks progress, however at this point I would recommend this surgery. At this point, the hardest part is getting all the medication in him. He is too clever for his own good when it comes to avoiding those pills.

    Michelle - I'm so sorry to hear about Munchkin. That result was my biggest worry when they mentioned a "mass". It is just heartbreaking to lose a pet.

  29. #29
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    Doglady, thanks for the update and so glad to hear Elvis is doing well and on the mend.

    Laurie

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