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It's a case of "ear we go" for Gunny

If you’ve ever had an ear infection then you will have some sympathy for Gunny who was referred to our dermatologist, Mark Allington. Despite diligent care from his owners, Gunny had a chronic ear infection which had been going on for two years.

Ear problems can be complex to treat in dogs as they usually involve an underlying skin disease (usually an allergy) - remember it is skin that 'lines' the ear. The allergic skin problem causes inflammation in the ear which enables the normal bugs & bacteria which live in the ear to overgrow causing an ear infection. Unfortunately with very long standing ear infections, the environment of the ear can change irreversibly and opportunistic multi-drug resistant bacteria colonise the ear. Although most infections start in the external ear canal, the ear drum is frequently ruptured and puss collects in the middle ear cavity in the majority of dogs with long standing ear disease (causing deafness).

Mark discussed options with the owners and decided that the best option would be for our consultant surgeon, Graham Hayes, to perform a salvage surgery to try to permanently cure the pain associated with the ear problem. A total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy was performed to carefully cut away the diseased ear canal, open the tympanic bulla and clean out the middle ear. This surgery permanently removes the ear canal; all the diseased tissue is removed so the source of infection and pain is permanently removed. A number of potential complications can occur with this complex surgery so it is not something undertaken lightly.

Fortunately Gunny made a super recovery with nothing worse than a shaved head and a slightly kinked ear to show for it. 

This surgery probably makes dogs deaf in the operated ear. However, the diseased ear is already deaf from the chronic ear condition and the surgery relieves the considerable pain associated with it.

It is very satisfying to learn from owners that their dog’s behaviour and temperament improves after this sort of surgery and this is likely related to the sudden alleviation of chronic pain.   is already deaf and the surgery relieves the considerable discomfort associated with chronic ear disease. 

More information on managing ear disease in dogs and cats can be found in our 'Pet Factsheets' section. There is also a useful page discussing how to help deaf dogs adjust.

Thanks to Gunny and his owners for allowing us to share his story.

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