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Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Share?

Posted by amck (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 14, 09 at 16:04

My mother's 4 yr. old cocker spaniel, Dempsey, has been plagued with severe ear infections for most of his young life. We have gone through many series of drops/meds and have made dietary changes in case the ear infections were related to food allergies.

I have great confidence in our vet who has treated my animals for 20+ years. He said Dempsey's case is one of the worse he has seen and his recommendation is to take the severe measure of ear surgery that would remove all the damaged, calcified tissue which is, essentially, the whole inner ear.

This is a very expensive surgery, performed by a specialist - approx. $2,000 per ear - and it often leaves the dog deaf, although a dog who has had such severe ear infections over the years has likely suffered hearing loss already.

I'm very torn about this and hope that someone out there has experience to share. My internet searches have yielded a lot of clinical info, but I'd love to hear from someone with firsthand knowledge.

BTW, my mom is elderly and I am the one who has been responsible for Dempsey's vet/grooming appts. & associated costs. She wants me to make the decision...

Would appreciate any help.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

WOW, sorry to leaern you are going through so much with such a young dog. This issue is common in dogs like cockers and bassetts. If the specialist is a good one, I would say save your dog from repeated infections (not good for the heart etc) and have the surgery done. My friends cocker had the same problem (only he was older) and they had the surgery. It took awhile for the dog to learn hand signals but there are alot of great trainers out there who can assist with that. Good luck.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

mazer, thanks for your reply. Aside from the ears, Dempsey appears to be in great health and where he is so young the surgery seems to be the way to go.

Another issue is my mom's age. When she got the dog she was very spry for her age, but in the last year she has become quite frail. I don't think she will be able to properly care for him (in & out in icy winter weather, etc.) for more than a year or two at best. My daughter had said that when caring for Dempsey's day-to-day needs became too much for my mom that she & her husband would take Dempsey in.

Now she has a baby, and I am worried that a dog who can't hear and a crawling baby will be a dangerous combination. Dempsey is great with kids, but any dog who is startled may snap/bite. Teaching him hand signals may not be enough.

This is heart wrenching on so many levels. I don't want to cause the dog any additional suffering with the ear issues, but the cost is great, the outcome unpredictable, and the possibility of him remaining in our family is now questionable.

I'm looking for guidance in figuring out the right thing to do.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

I've seen a dog during this type of surgery. I couldn't believe the lengths people would go to in the name of helping their animal. I would never put an animal of mine through such a horrible ordeal. People forget about the quality of the animal's life and only focus on their own personal feelings. You have to ask yourself, when is enough too much for the animal? I saw it as mutilation beyond belief seeing that cocker's ear completely cut away. It was horrible.

When my old cat Lucky had chronic ear infections and tumor's due to his FIV status, one vet recommended this surgery for him. I refused without giving it a second thought. It was a blessing that Lucky did recover from his infection and the tumor was no more than a benign growth that fell off on its' own. If he hadn't recovered, I was prepared to have him put down. He would never have wanted to suffer that pain. OMG, I can't even imagine the pain.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

brutuses - This dog is a young animal and yes there is some pain with ANY surgery. Heck my dog has had 2 TPLOS - very painful, but he is now 14 and still having a good life. Sometimes the pain which will subside is a necessary evil if the end result is to have a healtheir and happier and longer life.
In my house the motto is no unnecessary suffering. PERIOD!! yet I would put my dog through this surgery in a heartbeat. These chronic infections are bad, they can have long lasting detremental health problems for a dog in the long run including but not limited to a head not being straight, seizures, nausea, constant pain, heart problems kidney problems etc. It IS a serious problem. Cockers have a propensity for it. which is too bad because they are such great dogs.
amck. I have some questions which should be addressed by the potential new owners. Is the dog okay around the baby? Does the dog show any signs of aggression at all? How has training been going so far for this dog. because hand signal training should begin before surgery if at all possible.
Honestly I can not make a judgement call without seeing the dog in action. My sense of things - the dog and the baby will probably be fine together. Working on training like leave it, sit stay all the basics and I dont see why everyone can not live long healthy lives together without much issue. Good luck


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

I think the dog shouldn't be put in the house with your daughter with new baby.

It will need lots of healing and training to learn the hand signals.

Then a special private trainer to work once its healed to be with it and the baby and teach them how to be with the dog around the baby.

Also with any dog you never, ever leave a baby or toddler or child of any age alone with the dog. Take the child or the dog with you and shut the dog up if they must go to another room or answer the phone or run to the bathroom or whatever.

It also depends on its personality as some are great around kids and others are not.

Our male dog (different breed) is very nervous around kids, doesnt' like the loud noises they make, the bouncing and jumping they do, the constant movement.

I believe in giving it a chance but don't put it in that house with the baby, let it be alone, can't you take it into your house and care for it while it heals and give the training and care it needs until its ready to be put with a baby and trained.

You need to spend the money on a good private trainer that does hand signals and understands the situation. Also your daughter too has to take time too to learn it all and be patient and that can be hard on lack of sleep and being with the baby. The dog needs to be loved too and fussed over, it will go through tons of stuff. Is she prepared to do that. She can't just shut the dog up in a room or throw outside, she has to be prepared it will be in the house with them all and around the baby and need to go for walks and such. If not, then find a house that will be prepared for all that and will love it unconditionally.

That is the thing that people forget when they get pets that they can get too old to handle it or their health goes and then what happens to the pet/s? Tons of family members won't take them, they just abandoned them, won't even find a good home for it, don't care.

Its very hard on the pet, it doesn't understand and it needs lots of loving.

And tons of animals have gone through horrible things in their lives and have come through it and survived and lived long lives.

Yes, if you don't fix one thing, it can cause alot of other health issues for it.

Make sure you have a very good surgeon for the dog.

We are thankful that our vet is a great surgeon and any kind of operations, work on them, we ask for him to do it.

He is very expensive but we love the work that he does.

And don't look or think of the outside of the dog, think what is in the inside of the dog and if losing its ear is the worse thing and it can live with it, then why not?

Do what your heart tells you. But make sure the dog will have a good home to come too after all is done as it will need a very good loving caring home.

Talk to your daughter and sil both as they need to know that it will be alot of work and caring and fussing over the dog along with caring for a new baby. That is alot of work. And under no circumstances hit the dog or anything as it will not understand.

Also they must work with a private trainer and do as they tell them to make it work.

Ask around and yes, it will be costly but if you want it to work in the long run, then it will be well worth it for all involved.

Kids can be taught to not pull tails or poke eyes. And its up to the adults to make sure that they take the dog or child with them when leaving a room at all times.

don't leave it outside either with child, must make sure of its personality and how it reacts with baby and later a child and children.

some dogs do not want or like being around kids and so that is full must.

Remember your mom's dog has been around a quiet household and that is totally different than a busy noisy household and baby crying and moving all over the place.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

Please do not address me, but address the OP. She is the one asking the question. The OP asked for opinions and I gave her mine. Mine is not worse or better than yours so do not imply that it is. Thanks


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

brutuses - I will ALWAYS respond to ANYONES comment when I can utilize the opportunity to educate people about something. If you are unhappy with the way things work here, maybe this is not the best place for you. The other hand works too if I post or reply to a posting and someone can educate me or correct my positng, they are going to do it. It is the way this forum works.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

Mazer, those are your guidelines as to how you post on this forum, not mine. My opinion and life experience that I post on this forum are not yours to criticize. I am addressing the OP, not you. If you have another opinion by all means post it. In the process however, do not try to minimize or criticize what I posted by calling me out by name to make your point. That's rude, plain and simple.

I read all the posts and I can draw what I need from each. I do not need you to "personally" educate me on animal care.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

If I can help any animals life be a better one, I will post, dont care what anyone thinks...I have a first amendment right to free speech, this board is about sharing information and making peoples lives better, caan handle it...then dont post or reply.
If you think I was rude, minimizing or critisizing, maybe you need to not take things so personally.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

One of the things I love about the GardenWeb sites is that we turn our threads into conversations. The use of full sentences and commonly accepted spellings makes this site easier to read for me, too. I am not sure I would be able to remember to never comment on a certain member's comments. I can understand that this is what you prefer, Brutuses, but I am not sure how realistic it is that we would all remember to honor that. Best wishes for getting what you want.

Your request reminds me of the difference in AA meetings. At some, "talking 'cross the table" is considered a big no-no. At those, each table member has their say and no one comments, except sometimes the table leader. "Cross talk" is something so bad that people will stop you and tell you that you cannot do it. My friend belongs to a women's AA meeting where they have evolved thier own style in which they just chat together about their week. One might start with a story about her week, and another might say something to recognize the difficulty that she went though. A third might even ask questions about the situation and bring up an example from her own life about what she did in such a situation. One day a new woman came to the group. When the first woman commented about what the speaker had said, the new woman made a comment about "no cross talk!" The members of the meeting explained to her that they did not follow that rule - after all, there are no set rules for AA meetings. This woman could not deal with it, and the group members did not apparently have a lot of sympathy for her culture shock. I think my friend told me that she told the woman to not let the door hit her on the way out. Now, that was out of line!

Communities are what they are. You may request that people change the way they do things, but they may decide not to do so.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

My cocker had the operation here in France where we live nearly two years ago, when she was seven. The hearing loss is not really serious; the question of Dempsey moving in with the young family is not really dependent on that.

What I would say, if you haven't gone ahead with it yet, is get proper swab tests done on the ear secretions; if the antibiotics are not the right ones, for example for a pseudomonas infection, then they won't work.

I feel now we were too hasty in following recommendations for the op, before having the full range of tests done. Now our dog is still susceptible to infections and abscesses which are really as bad as before the op, since there is a problem with the ear, the site of the surgery, draining. This is rare but does happen, apparently, and we have been through a lot of expense and distress. So I'd say, get further tests on the exact nature of the infection, and only go through with it if you have absolute faith in the surgical vet, and there is really no other choice. Dogs are resilient, and if the suffering of the operation is more than offset by the cure it effects, then that's OK, but, in our case, the operation isn't been totally successful. That said, it seems it usually is.

We love our dog passionately, and would go to whatever lengths to keep her with us if she is well and happy, but I would never have a cocker spaniel again, as they are prone to these problems, and it really is a heartache.

Best of luck to you and Dempsey and your family.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

I am a vet with a strong interest in dermatology. During school rounds, we saw many cases of dogs with mineralization of ear canal tissues causing EXTREME pain to the dog- usually a cocker spaniel. Theses cases are always scheduled as a consultation with the dermatology specialists first. You cannot reverse mineralization- if present the only course of action is to remove the ear canal (TECA- total ear canal ablation). Mineralization is extremely painful and rarely controlled by even the most advanced pain protocols. The mineralization remains despite clearing any infections, so treating the infection (if present) will not make a difference in the level of pain.

I have seen several TECAs and can say with 100% confidence that those dogs are MUCH better off after surgery. Of course, those dogs definitely needed the surgery do to mineralization; if you mom's dog doesn't need the surgery it won't help except to prevent additional infections (which are also painful). People don't often recognize how painful these dogs are until the pain is removed. Then they see how the dog acts like a puppy again, doesn't scream or bite when you try to pet it, etc.

At the very least, schedule an appointment with the specialist for a 2nd opinion. They won't do surgery if not needed, it's a PITA to do. They will have excellent pain management protocols if he needs surgery. He'll feel MUCH better.


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RE: Ear Ablation Surgery - Anyone Have Experience/Advice To Shar

We have a 4 yo cocker who has severe allergies and developed horrible ear infections. Like most, we tried everything but eventually realized that TECA on both ears was needed. The operation took about three hours per ear and the surgeon only did one ear at a time, allowing 4 weeks in between procedures. Cost was roughly $2,000/ear. The canal tissue removed was completely calcified. Recovery was about one week per ear as we watched very closely for infection and cleansed the area religiously.
We now have a very happy and pain-free pet! Based on our experience, I would recommend the procedure to anyone. We love our dogs (I have 3 cockers total) and it has made all the difference in Dillon's quality of life. I hope this helps anyone who is struggling with a similar situation. Incidently, he isn't deaf and has eventually adapted. Obviously, he doesn't hear everything but it doesn't seem to effect him in any negative way. If anything, he seems more calm and content.


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