DOG ears are a precise, complex, fine-tuned organic instrument. The School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University did a study on frequency ranges of animal hearing. They found that dogs can hear in the 45 KHz range. By comparison, humans can hear in the 23 KHz range. In addition, dogs hearing range exceeds four times the distance than ours. They can actually pinpoint the exact location of the sound.
THE ear canal is L-shaped. It goes straight down and then turns into a right angle toward the brain. Past that turn is the ear drum. There are three parts; the external, middle and inner ear.
THE external ear is the visible part on the outside of the head and the canal. The position or set is classified into four groups.
- Close. The ears are near each other.
- Wide. The ears are further apart.
- High. The ears are above the eyes.
- Low. The ears are below the eyes.
There are six different shapes.
- Bat. The ears are blunt shaped with rounded tips. Boston Terriers have bat-shaped ears.
- Rose. The ears fold back from the head. Bulldogs have rose-shaped ears.
- Tulip. The ears are upright and the edge curves forward. Shelties have tulip-shaped ears.
- Heart. The ears are wider at the base than at the tip. Poodles have heart-shaped ears.
- V. The ears are long and triangular. Basset Hounds have V-shaped ears.
- Triangular. The ears are pointed and upright. German Shepherds have triangular-shaped ears.
Most ear problems are found in the external ear.
THE middle ear is filled with air. It contains the ear drum, mallet, anvil and stirrup. These transmit sounds to the inner ear. Problems here can affect balance.
THE inner ear is filled with fluid. Sound changes from airwaves to the nerve impulses, then onward to the brain. It contains the temporal bone, Organ of Corti and the eight cranial nerve. Problems here can result in deafness, facial paralysis and balance issues.
A healthy ear is pink on the inside with no odor or discharge and no exterior hair loss. Like any fine-tuned instrument, there are a host of issues that affect its precision.
- Allergy Otitis. It is the most common cause of recurrent ear infections. The usual culprits are food, environmental, mold or dust allergens. The ears are itchy and inflamed and are usually accompanied by itchy paws. Additionally, there may be an odor or black, gunky discharge.
- Tick, flea, fly and mosquito bites as well as mites and demodex can cause ear pain, itching, swelling, hair loss and crusty skin.
- Foreign bodies, such as foxtails, cotton balls, ingrown hairs, cysts and resin powder (used to pull ear hair) can become infected. You may see the obstruction with a flashlight, but do not probe. You will only make the problem worse.
- Due to the warm moist environment, floppy-eared dogs are prone to staph, yeast and bacterial infections. I shave the inside of the ear of those dogs that are prone to recurrent ear infections. The ears may feel warm to the touch, their head may tilt in addition to a discharge and odor. While rare, an ear infection can spread internally or cause peripheral vestibular syndrome.
- Water in the ears can set up the environment for a yeast or bacterial infection. Water can enter the ear canal from bathing or swimming. You should clean out wet ears with a good quality ear cleaner.
- Externally, cancer may appear as dark, scaly or hairless patches.
- Hormonal disorders such as diabetes, thyroid or Cushings can cause hair loss and itchy red skin.
- Psoriasis-like crusting along the ear margins; in itself is not bad, generally points to an underlying medical condition. The list includes skin calcifications due to Cushings, sarcoptic mange, seborrheic ear margin dermatitis, vascular and other hormonal disorders.
- The high velocity dryer can blow out an eardrum. It is best to protect the ears with a Happy Hoodie when using this dryer.
- Puncture wounds need treatment BEFORE they close up. If allowed to close, the trapped bacteria will cause an infection or sepsis (blood infection).
- Hematomas are caused by trauma, vigorous head shaking or immune-related disorders. The dog has swollen, squishy-feeling ear flaps. They can burst open if left untreated.
- Wounds caused by playing, scissors or other grooming equipment. Cuts along the ear margins have a harder time healing. I don’t recommend styptic powder; it burns on contact.
BOTH hematomas and wounds can bleed profusely. Ricky and Dr. James Schachtel will demonstrate how to wrap an ear injury before transport to the vet.
FIRST assemble the contents needed from your first aid kit. You will need a nonstick bandage, antibiotic cream, 0.2% chlorohexidine rinse, vet wrap, cotton roll and gauze pads. Clean the wound with the 0.2% chlorohexidine rinse and pat dry.
PLACE a non-stick gauze pad with antibiotic cream over the wound area. Lay injured ear over the top of the head.
Add gauze on both sides of wound and apply pressure for 3-5 minutes.
Wrap under the jaw and on both sides of the uninjured ear. This will prevent the wrap from falling off.
Cover cotton roll with vet wrap.
Place a cone around the head to prevent the pet from removing the bandages.
Bring him to the vet.
AS you can see, there are many issues affecting the ears. Proper diagnosis by a veterinarian is critical for treatment and recovery.
It is with great appreciation to Dr. James Schachtel and VCA Northside Animal Hospital in Danbury, CT for their assistance in writing this article. Please visit them at www.northsidect.com.
What’s so important about pet first aid kits? Accidents aren’t planned, they can and do happen. Therefore, preparation is key. The American Animal Hospital Association states that 25% more pets could have been saved if only ONE pet first aid technique was applied before veterinary treatment. First aid means the difference between life and death, between temporary and permanent disability and between a short recuperation and a long recovery. A pet first aid kit plays a vital role.
I recommend taking the time putting your own kit together. If you choose to buy a pre-packaged kit, verify the contents suit your needs. In addition, replace items when used and check expiration dates on a regular basis.
What’s in my kit? I keep the contents in a large, denim Tinkerbell bag. Aside from Tink being the “bomb”, the bag is convenient to move from location to location. Other options include fishing (tackle) and craft boxes, which have plenty of compartments for storage. Suggested items are listed by category. There is some overlap between categories.
BLEEDING AND WOUNDS
- Adhesive tape.
- Gauze pads.
- Gauze rolls.
- Vet wrap.
- Cotton roll. This is used for head and large area wounds.
- Non-stick gauze.
- Antibiotic cream.
- Providone Iodine ointment.
- Sanitary napkins. They are used to soak up excess blood.
- Bandanas/triangular bandages. They can be used for splinting fractures and covering wounds. In addition, they can be used to aid a dog in walking by taking the pressure off of an injured limb.
- Paint stirrers can be used for splinting.
- Sealed sterile solution for flushing wounds. An unsealed bottle is no longer sterile, nor is bottled water.
- 0.2% chlorohexidine rinse. Used to rinse out wounds. The 0.2% is important. Less than that is not effective and more can cause cellular damage. I no longer use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to flush wounds. Alcohol stings and hydrogen peroxide damages cellular tissue. In addition, both will slow healing.
- Nexaband. Your vet can demonstrate the right way to use this product. It is important that the wound is properly cleaned and dried first. Never use Nexaband on bite wounds.
ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK, ALLERGIC REACTIONS AND INSECT BITES
- Premeasured dose of LIQUID gel antihistamine as determined by your vet.
- Safety pin.
The safety pin is used to puncture a hole in the liquid gel. It is then squirted onto the tongue of the pet. This is the easiest and most effective way to administer an antihistamine.
- Plastic card for flicking out bee stingers. Do not tweeze them out as you only inject more venom into the pet. Place the card under the stinger and lift up and out.
- Chemical cold pack or instant cold gel wrap. They can be placed against pressure points to aid in cooling the pet.
- Rubbing alcohol can be squirted onto the pads. As this can cause alcohol poisoning, talk to emergency veterinary personnel first.
- Poison Control Center’s phone number is 888-426-4435.
DO NOT ASSUME YOU SHOULD INDUCE VOMITING! Different poisons call for different protocols. What will help one situation will cause harm in another.
- Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting.
- Activated charcoal to absorb poison.
- Baking soda to absorb topical caustic material.
- Squirt bottle to administer treatment.
- Plastic baggie/latex gloves for vomit or stool sample.
- Sterile solution for 1st and 2nd degree burns. DO NOT RINSE 3rd DEGREE BURNS. 3rd degree burns are characterized by the burn being through the full thickness of the skin.
- Bandana/gauze to cover burns.
1. Small flashlight with spare battery to check throat for debris.
2. Plastic baggies/latex gloves for debris sample.
- Emergency muzzle.
If your kit is needed, your pet is probably in pain. Any pet in pain or being moved into pain can and will bite.
- Digital thermometer and petroleum jelly. They will thank you later.
- Blunt tip scissors.
- Eye dropper.
- Eye wash.
- Honey packets for hypoglycemic dogs.
- Survivor blanket will help keep pet warm due to shock in cold weather ONLY. It should not be used in warm weather.
- Glow sticks can be used to illuminate most common strains of ringworm. However, keep in mind this is not a full-proof diagnostic tool.
- Smart Water or unflavored Pedialyte will help to re-hydrate stressed pets. Pedialyte must be unflavored because the other varieties contain artificial sweeteners.
- Photos of me WITH my dogs. The photo will establish ownership should I become separated from my dog(s) while hiking or traveling.
- Latex gloves to protect from zoonotics.
- Constricting band. I live in an area with poisonous snakes. If the bite occurs on an extremity, then place the constricting band after the wound. It will help to slow down the venom. Remove any collars from the pet. Intense body swelling can occur.
These items are in my kit because they suit my needs. Your kit should suit your needs. A good source for some of the harder items on this list can be found at www.kvvetsupply.com.