A couple of weeks ago I heard Willow pain vocalize as she scratched her right ear. When I went to take a look I couldn’t see any obvious blood, scratches or other wounds but did feel that the ear itself was about twice as thick as her left ear and the thick part was obviously filled with liquid of some sort. You could tell that she seemed to be reluctant to shake her head at a normal enthusiastic velocity. I hoped it would simply be a little wound that got infected and would soon heal itself. She’s a dog with a zest for life and the many opportunities I allow her to (with apologies to Joseph Campbell) follow her bliss. She has normally been a tough cookie about healing up nice and quick after all those normal scrapes and dings that a “long leash” sometimes allows. Two days later we could see that her ear had swollen to several times its normal thickness and was now solid feeling and more painful to her so, no self-healing this time.
We called the Vet she uses when we find ourselves passing through the San Francisco Bay Area and made an appointment to get it looked at. Once the doctor saw the ear she immediately knew what it was (aural hematoma) and offered three options. Option One was wait and see but we had already done that and it was still worsening. Option Two was, if I remember correctly, some sort of anti-inflammatory injection with the hope that the swelling would go down and the hardened blood clot would eventually be reabsorbed. That would most likely end up leaving a large, hollow cavity inside her ear which would then keep filling with bodily fluids and possibly start the whole process over again. A cauliflower-ear type deformity can occur if left untreated as well so we gravitated to the third option. The Third option was to surgically remove the clot and then suture the wall of the cavity back to the wall of her ear and make it whole again. As the best option for a long-term fix seemed to be Option Three another appointment was made for two days hence. Of course all the options came with different price tags and we happened to decide on the most expensive one. Luckily for us Willow’s grandfather (my dad) spoils his only granddog and so graciously offered to pick up that tab. Thanks Grandpaw.
Fair Warning: below this text are more than a few pictures of a Veterinary surgery. If you are the easily offended or disturbed type you should feel free to bail out now to safer pastures.
I was informed that the cone was primarily to keep her from shaking her head and slapping the ear around and secondly to stop her possibly scratching it and doing damage. It has to stay on for ten days and then we go back to get the drain removed. I can probably do it easily enough but we’ll defer to the professionals for that step. Ten days after that they want us back for suture removal but I’ve done that numerous times so we’ll make a go of it ourselves.
We’ll take a few more pictures of the healing process as it progresses and add them here later.
UPDATE #1: We went back to the Vet today to get the Penrose Drain removed. It was a quick 5 minute, snip and pull, two stitches out and then the drain easily slid out when gently pulled.
I brought a device that represents the standard Internet unit of measure (a banana) but when I went to put it down on the table next to the removed drain the Vet gave me a severely disapproving look and so I settled on just this unconfirmed photo. Sorry Internet.
UPDATE #2: We are nowhere near the Vet that did Willow’s ear surgery and drain removal so today we removed the remaining stitches ourselves. Not hard. Straight forward. Have done it to myself, Willow and my last dog before so no big deal.
First we swabbed our tools with an alcohol prep pad and then we did the same with her ear. A few careful snips next to knots and then a careful teasing out of the stitches.
The stitches had seemingly done their job and Willow’s body had gotten to the point where it was now trying to expel the foreign matter and had built up a small, swollen bump of bodily fluid around each stitch. Essentially a case of “thank you for your good work now Get Out!”
Another swab of an alcohol prep pad and the application of some antibiotic/pain relieving gel over the effected area and we’re done. Now it’s treat time.
We’ll give it a couple of days for the tiny stitch holes to close up and then she’ll be allowed to once again romp and swim and wallow like her normal dirty girl self. And then another bath.
Willow thanks you all for your warm wishes.