Sometime around last Wednesday, we noticed Bella scratching her left ear more than usual, and almost always it was accompanied by a really sad, cry-whine-whimper noise.
She mostly scratched it first thing in the morning (or wanted you to scratch it for her), but that was not really unusual for her. However, the cry-whine-whimper was unusual. So, after a few days of this, I began to wonder if something was wrong.
My husband thought it might be ear mites as his family’s cats used to have them on a regular basis…and really, Bella’s ears do stick up like a cat’s. It was a very valid hypothesis.
Unfortunately, it was Friday by the time we started worrying, and neither one of us was able to take her before the weekend. We also didn’t want to do the whole weekend-vet thing after our bad experience in July.
I tried looking in her ears with a flashlight (sans-husband), but you can probably guess that didn’t fly with Bella. In the 10 minutes it took me to pin her down, I did see a little bleeding in that left ear. Given how much she’d been scratching, that wasn’t too surprising though.
(If she’d been deathly ill or wailing 24-7, of course we would have taken her in on the weekend. In a heartbeat!)
Anyway, we chose the wait-and-see method to get us through the weekend, and then Monday rolled around.
The cry-whine-whimper wasn’t as bad during scratching-sessions, but I was still worried something might be wrong. She was also scratching both ears by now. Thankfully our vet was able to squeeze us in that same day. Phew!
*insert a high-energy GSD going bazonkers at the vet’s office here*
The vet had the same fun trying to pin her down long enough to use his special otoscope-thing in her ears, but I felt sorry for him and let her eat way too many soft treats out of my hand until he could get a good look.
Turns out she has an ear infection in both ears. And a lot of debris. But no ear mites.
This is where it got really fun for the vet! They got to irrigate both ears and wipe a long-acting ointment inside each one.
The alternative was a medicated solution we’d have to drop in her ears each day – making sure it got down the 90 degree angle in the ear canal. This would require a lot of dog-wrangling on our part and the possibility of not being successful. No thank you!
So, she’s good to go for now, but we have to take her in for a check-up next week to see if the infection has cleared. Of course, the ointment is only supposed to treat the symptoms of the infection – not the cause. Here’s what the vet thinks might happen going forward:
- The infection was a single event caused by water in her ears – sort of like Swimmer’s Ear in humans. The infection clears from the long-acting ointment.
- The infection clears, but it recurs sometime later from the same water-issue. We get an ear-wash from him to prevent this little problem and use it periodically – or when we give her a bath.
- The infection is still there because it’s actually a symptom of a bigger problem – like allergies to grass/mold/her food. <<<——- This does not sound like a fun problem to solve.
My husband wishes it had been ear mites afterall…
And in case you were wondering, the vet said the ears of the German-Shepherd are actually less prone to infection than dogs with long ears that hang down….like beagles.