How to Clean a Puppy's Cropped Ears

Medium
5 - 10 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

If you've ever seen a puppy running around with weird bandaged ears sticking up and sometimes fastened together, looking like old-fashioned TV antennas, you may have seen a puppy recovering from a procedure to crop their ears. Many breeds, such as Dobermans, Bull Terriers, and Great Danes, frequently undergo ear cropping procedures at about 8 weeks of age. For many of these dogs, ear cropping is part of a standard for the breed, but there are more than cosmetic reasons for ear cropping. Many breeders and dog owners feel that cropped ears, that stand up and allow better air circulation to the ear canals, prevent the occurrence of ear infections that are more common when moisture and poor air circulation, cause bacterial and fungal infections to proliferate in the ears. If chronic ear infections occur, not only is the dog uncomfortable, but permanent hearing loss can occur when delicate structures are damaged. 

Ear cropping is performed on young puppies, under anesthetic. During the procedure, a veterinarian removes extra ear flap tissue, sutures incisions, and then bandages and affixes ears to a support structure or splint so they heal in an upright position. Cleaning the cropped ears during healing is part of the recovery process.

Dog's Perspective

Ear cropping is not a painless procedure. Although puppies do not feel anything during the procedure, as they're under anesthetic, there is some discomfort when they recover from anesthesia and while ear incisions are healing. Your veterinarian may prescribe pain medication to help your puppy be more comfortable, but your puppy may be feeling unwell from the after-effects of anesthetic and may be reticent about having his sore ears handled for cleaning.

The Surgical Aftercare Method

Effective
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Step
1
Get instructions
Follow veterinary instructions regarding dressings, medications and cleaning required for your puppy’s recently cropped ears.
Step
2
Prevent interference
Prevent your puppy from scratching recently cropped ears by supervising your puppy, banding back paws or, in some cases, using a cone.
Step
3
Wash incsions
Flush the incision at the base of the ear area with ear wash or peroxide from a dispenser or syringe and apply antibiotic ointment to the incisions two or three times daily. Avoid wetting any bandaging present.
Step
4
Remove scabs
Remove scabs that form on the ear incisions. Scabs will interfere with your puppies ears healing in an upright position. Soak ear incisions in warm water for 5 minutes by holding a warm face cloth to the scab and then gently pick off with clean hands.
Step
5
Montior
Monitor ears for signs of infection or swelling and obtain veterinarian assistance immediately if symptoms occur.
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The Caring for Taped Ears Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Have sutures removed
Sutures are removed at 7 to 10 days after surgery and ears are taped and supported. They may be left exposed for a day or two to allow air circulation and healing to occur after sutures are removed. Keep your puppy isolated from other dogs so that they do not lick his ears or interfere with them and do not allow your puppy to scratch his ears. You can put socks over his rear feet to prevent scratching; a cone may interfere with structures or splints used to make ears stand up.
Step
2
Keep ears dry before taping
Keep ears dry and clean before taping, do not use petroleum jelly or ointment on the ears prior to taping or the tape will not stick. Tape requires a clean dry surface to adhere to. You can use antiseptic wash to clean the ears and then allow them to dry thoroughly before applying tape.
Step
3
Retape wet tape
If tape becomes wet, it must be removed and re-taped. Try to avoid allowing tape and support structures to become wet or soiled.
Step
4
Clean exposed incisions
Do not cover sutures or incisions at the base of the ear when taping. Keep this area clean with localized cleaning with antiseptic wash if necessary, be careful not to get tape wet.
Step
5
Re-tape periodically
Remove tape weekly to check healing, clean ears with antiseptic wash, and replace soiled tape. You may choose to leave ears unbandaged for the day to allow air to get at tissues and the ear surface to dry thoroughly before re-taping.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Do not allow the puppy to interfere with sutured ears or taped and supporting ear structures, bandage paws and supervise. Keep your puppy away from other dogs.
  • Keep tape dry and clean, if it becomes wet it must be replaced.
  • Scabs interfere with cartilage and tissues' ability to heal ears in an upright position.
  • Follow veterinarian instructions carefully.
  • Watch for signs of infection such as discharge, redness, swelling or heat.

Conclusion

If your dog requires his ears cropped when he is a puppy, maintaining a clean site for ear incisions to heal and then taping and supporting ears so they heal in an upright position will be required. It is important to keep incisions clean and prevent scabs from developing. You will also want to make sure that taped ears do not become soiled; wet tape needs to be replaced. If you see signs of infection, get veterinary attention immediately. Be patient with your puppy, undergoing anesthetic, having sore ears, and having ears taped and supported can be uncomfortable for him. Handle gently!

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