I promised you a tale of Licorice’s ears. It’s JUST as exciting as it sounds.
It comes as a huge shock, I’m sure, that I am something of a nervous dog-mommy. I am, after all, a nervous mom in general. I worry. I fret. If there was a giant LED chaser display in my head it would constantly stream MAH PRESHUS BAYBEEEEEES!!! (In red, natch.) The safety and comfort of my children is a constant preoccupation for me.
So back when we brought Licorice home, she had a pretty severe double ear infection, among other things. I quickly unloaded the month’s earnings at my local vet’s office as we went in for appointment after appointment to check on her recovery. First it was 14 days treatment, then 7 more, then “just one more week,” and finally she was proclaimed healed.
In the meantime, we cracked joke after joke about how Licorice fit into our family just fine on account of her food allergies and delicate disposition.
The thing is, once she was switched over to allergen-free food, everything was supposed to get better. Her skin issues, her ear infections—once her diet was improved, health would follow. And it did, for the most part. Her fur grew in lush and thick, she stopped chewing up her paws, and her ears cleared up. It was a miracle of EXPENSIVE PUPPY FOOD. Hooray!
But Licorice has floppy ears, and what I didn’t know about dogs is that those with floppy ears are particularly prone to ear troubles. That makes no sense to me, because it seems to ME that the floppy ears should PROTECT her ears from bad stuff. Like, say, the flap of ear hanging down over the actual ear canal prevents insects and aliens from getting in there, right? But no, that’s not how it works. Floppy ears create a nice warm breeding ground for bacteria and yeast.
And so it came to pass that my dog was the picture of health, but her ears remained somewhat troublesome. Do you know how to tell if your dog has a ear infection? See if you can identify the tell-tale signs:
A) The dog scratches at her ears and/or rubs her head on the carpet incessantly.
B) The dog’s ears appear to be red and/or inflamed.
C) Lifting the ear flap and sniffing reveals a yeasty scent.
D) All of the above and P.S. OMG EWWWWWW YEASTY EARFLAPS.
If you answered D, you win a cookie, and also the right to ask my dog if she ever has that not-so-fresh feeling.
This yeast thing is insidious, and yes, my preshus diddykins is prone to yeasty ears, the poor delicate princess. I have special ear wash I use on her and oohhh boy is that her MOST FAVORITE THING EVER, right up there with, oh, I don’t know, being violated by a Great Dane. She sees me pick up the bottle of ear wash and she DISAPPEARS. I find her again and put her on the kitchen counter and drip ear wash into her ears and then shove my arm in there up to the elbow to clean out the gunk, and she glances at me sideways, all, “I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS” and horrified and stuff. Sure, I give her a piece of pepperoni afterward (pro tip: in the canine world, friendship can be rebought with a single piece of pepperoni, always), but SHE DOES NOT LIKE IT, SAM I AM.
Generally if her ears seem to be getting bad, I can clean them out a little more often and she’ll be okay. But that last week before Christmas she just didn’t seem to be getting better, so I admitted defeat and took her back to the vet.
It turns out that in addition to having floppy ears, Licorice is also one of those breeds that has a hair plug that grows down INTO the ear canal. The vet was of the opinion that Licorice’s current ear troubles might be entirely due to the fact that, as it happened, her ear canals were full of fur that her negligent owner hadn’t tended to by having her regularly groomed.
[Shall we take a break here for some self-flagellation? Let's! But, see, it's been COLD. So I didn't want to get her coat clipped lest she be CHILLY! And I suck. So.]
The vet asked if I was planning to have her groomed soon and I of course told her I was taking her in the following week, but she commented that she’d give me the ear medicine, sure, but it wasn’t going to WORK unless the hair was removed and the medicine could really get down in there. So she told me that I could wait until I had her groomed or I could allow her to remove the hair now, so that the meds would work right away. I said that’s fine, please remove the hair now.
And then I asked how she removes the hair, expecting that she had special scissors or something.
The vet turned back around with a pair of flat-nose pliers. “Oh, we just yank it out,” she said.
I sat down in a chair in the corner and steeled myself for Licorice to yelp and cry. But the vet quickly YANKED OUT all of the hair growing inside her ears, and although Licorice gave her the sideways WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME look, she didn’t cry. The vet swears it doesn’t hurt that much.
Apparently it’s the doggie equivalent of getting a wax job. You wouldn’t do it voluntarily or anything, but it’s over quickly and in the end you have a nice, smooth, hairless… um, ear.
Licorice’s latest ear infection seems to be clearing up nicely, now, and right now she’s being groomed while I sit in a nearby coffee shop. Soon my princess will be healthy and pretty once again.
And yes, I do have some pepperoni in my purse.