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If your best friend is a Boxer, Doberman, Great Dane, Schnauzer, or Pit Bull … not to mention several other breeds, you may be trying to decide whether or not to put the pup in ear crops.
There are several important things to consider, first, do you have a vet nearby who does the procedure? Less and less do, it seems. Do some research to find out who in your area does. There is a lot of follow-up care and having the vet nearby is important. Most veterinarians do not want to be responsible for following this procedure if they are not familiar with the operation.
Second, before you start on this road, make sure your puppy has had his vaccinations and the deworming procedure has started. Make sure that it is about a good quality food and is about all very healthy. These things will help him heal faster than if his system is compromised.
Ear clipping is usually done around 9 to 11 weeks of age. Any later and the ears may not want to stand. You are trying to find that time when the puppy is old enough to handle the operation and anesthesia well, but young enough that the cartilage is not put in the ears anymore.
The operation is performed by surgically removing a portion of the ear and suturing the incision, then placing the ear in an upright position in some form of shelf. Often a tall paper cup or an aluminum brace. The ears will need to heal for days before the sutures are removed.
Follow-up care is undoubtedly more difficult and time-consuming than the operation itself and is very important for the final result.
If you leave sutures for more than 7 days, it can cause scaring on the edge of the ear. The ears will still have quite a few scabs at this stage and may be very sensitive and bleed again. Now it becomes more difficult to keep the ears in the shelf.
As the ears heal, they itch and drive the pup crazy. Diluting betadine with Neosporin can help the healing process and relieve some of the itching, however it can also loosen the tape used to secure the ears so stay away from the tape if you can.
A mild sedative may even be recommended for this stage of recovery as the puppy may be quite uncomfortable.
Find out the veterinary office hours for future reference. The ears are very sensitive to down from now until they stop.
NEVER try to glue the ears yourself unless you have been properly educated how to do this by your vet.
If you tap around the raw edge of the ear, or if you tap too tightly you can actually cut off the circulation in the ear very quickly, causing it to die and fall. It happened. There is no repair for an ear that has died and fallen.
The ears will remain in the rack for 17-21 days until they are fully healed and begin to stand on their own. From here they will be wrapped in soft cotton wrap and tape and will stay that way until they stop. Typically, your vet will want to check on them every 10-14 days if the pup is left with the bandages alone for long.
If, or rather when, your puppy gets his ears out of any device they are in, it is important that you take him to the vet within an hour or so. The longer the ears stay down, the longer it will take to stand up.
It may be a good idea to do a crash course in the dos and don’ts of emergency tape in case you have an accident on a weekend or holiday.
A breed with short ears, such as a Pit Bull or a Schnauzer will have faster results. Dobermans, Danes, and Boxers will take longer because they have more ears to fight gravity. Post-operative healing and aftercare play a large role in the length of time it takes to have a completed ear, but genetics as much as anything is the biggest influence.
Some ears will stop quickly, others may take months. The longest I knew was my own dog, Dharma. It is a beautiful Boxer that took 10 months for the desired result. Most take closer to 3 or 4 months total.
Make sure you are ready for this venture. It is a lot to go through for you and the pup but it creates a nice profile with a very different look specific to just your breed of choice.
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