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Painful ears of
Miniature Schnauzers - 2002 and 2010 case studies
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First case was written: August 2002
Update: 20 February, 2020
EAR PROBLEMS IN DOGS
Ear pain and scratching all the time is a cause for concern, but the unenlightened Miniature Schnauzer owner usually thinks that the groomer will be able to resolve the problem. Besides, it is cheaper to consult the groomer than the veterinarian. It is not cheaper if the owner calculates the costs over the lifespan of the dog, assuming the dog lives up to 15 years. Besides, painful ears are hellish for the dog who tries its best to avoid the groomer as well, if the owner really cares to find out the real situation at the grooming shop.
Hairy ear canals in Miniature
Schnauzers trap water and dirt and obstruct ear ventilation. Bacteria,
yeast and fungus proliferates inside the ears. The painful ulceration
inside the ears causes the dog to bite people.
|Case 1 in 2002: Once Bitten Twice Shy|
"We could not go back to the first vet as our Schnauzer had bitten his nail off his finger!" Mr Ho said as he wriggled his left forefinger. "The vet's hand was trembling subsequently. But we had warned him that the dog would bite. He still touched his ears and was bitten. This dog dares not bite me as I will whack him." Mr Ho laughed.
I could feel the pain of the nail bitten off the finger in my bones. Just a simple bite would be painful and if the nail was bitten off, it must be excruciating for the poor vet.
This Schnauzer did not growl or give warning before biting. He was the strong silent type. He put his head down close to the floor, his tail turned sharply downwards and headed towards the door to get out of the veterinary surgery. Some dogs do associate the vets with pain and some would not enter the surgery room. Their legs became wobbly as they reached the surgery. Legs became so heavy that they glued the dog to the ground.
"Why not use the ear ointment regularly instead of putting him under anaesthesia to open up his vertical ear canals?" I asked Mr Ho as the Schnauzer was really pitiful at that moment. His greyish white face with long hair made him looked very depressed.
Mr Ho had tried the ear ointment for the past 3 months but the pus kept coming back inside the ear canals. He had to spend over three hundred dollars for two ear irrigations and medication.
If the lateral ear canal resection surgery could solve his problem once and for all, this dog would be euthanased.
This Schnauzer had ear canals choked full of ear hairs trapping water during bathing. Furthermore, the ear pinnae or flap closed over the ear canal opening. The closed ear canal was not ventilated well. The dampness from bathing encouraged the bacteria to grow and infect the ear walls. Pus formed as the dog's white blood cells tried to contain the infection. The ears became painful and inflamed. Therefore the dog bit anybody when his ears were touched.
The dog was kept in the cage pending surgery. He was passive and quiet in the cage, a good patient. Just as I was going to take him out for surgery, he bit my left thumb without warning. Fortunately my nail was not ripped off. I washed off the red blood oozing from a small puncture wound. I had to use the hand to operate. A piece of plaster covering the wound stopped the pain. The dog had both ear canals opened up. I hope he would be happy to see the veterinarian in later years and not associate vets with pain all the time.
"I can give you a 90%
guarantee of success in this surgery," I said to Mr Ho who wanted the dog
back immediately after surgery. The family just loved this Schnauzer and
did not want him to be away from the best care at home.
"Your dog will no longer suffer from pain and pus infections inside his ear forever."
"This dog bit two vets," Mr Ho pronounced proudly to Nurse Ann. It was an achievement to bite the dog doctor who is supposed to be invincible and a controller of all dogs big and small, ferocious and submissive. I was the 3rd vet to be bitten. A brown waterproofed plaster wound round my left thumb as I washed out the dog's canal.
Mr Ho turned to me and furrowed his forehead, "Your guarantee better works. Otherwise it would be a lethal injection to kill it as I can't afford to spend more money on veterinary fees." As for me, I hope this dog would never bite the 4th veterinarian. I have to be super alert whenever I encounter dogs with ear problems.
From this Miniature Schnauzer and a sore thumb, I now appreciated the meaning of the English idiom "Once bitten, twice shy." One of those idioms I memorised for the English test during the Primary School Leaving Examination. That was 3 decades ago, but the Miniature Schnauzer refreshed my English idiom swotting by biting me and making me avoiding him.
UPDATE IN 2010: No further complaints about the ear or visit from Mr Ho for many months after the surgery. I presume the Schnauzer has had recovered.
|Case 2 in 2010: A caring lady owner|
consulted a vet before?" I asked the second sister who looked so much like
a twin of the first. Siblings should look alike as they come from the same
just would not allow their owners to clean their painful ears regularly
and so the regular ear cleaning and treatment might have had worked. But
no self-respecting dog would tolerate ear hair plucking by the owner. It
is extremely painful. A torture. The dog would try to run away. At the
groomer, the dog had no choice and "behaved" well for ear hair plucking.
expect her to be back. Many Singaporean owners don't come back after the
first treatment as they are price-sensitive or too busy. There is always
the groomer and heck, the dog has to go to the groomer every 2 or 3 months
anyway. So, why bother to spend money on surgery?
surgery took around 1.5 hours. The writing of this article including
creating pretty pictures to wake up sleepy undergraduates took 3
hours and lots of discipline. I hope the students learn something for
their veterinary surgery examinations.
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