It all Came Out Fine in the End


Last in a series

Most of us would rather file our knuckles with a cheese grater than face surgery but “Chase,” the full-body itching Old English sheepdog, was running out of options. I infused her chronically infected anal glands and irrigated her ears one more time during her next follow-up, all the while managing her allergies with at-home medication.

Anatomy evolves to promote survival of a species but that doesn’t make it friendly to modern medicine. Dogs’ ears have a long vertical canal that makes an “L” shape with the horizontal portion. With lots of damage to all that tubing, from scratching and head shaking, Chase harbored a dark, warm, moist environment that defied a cure. We could have continued our relentless flushing and medicating but we’d be running in place for the rest of her life. Her unhappy anal glands had a similar prognosis. She needed a better future.

I gave my client, Miss Manners, the options and recommended a plan. She wanted only the best for her dog and got on board. We had Chase on the operating table 2 days later for a La Croix-Zepp procedure on each ear. Her remodeled vertical canals would stay permanently open and dry, very likely (no guarantees in medicine) never facing another infection. She needed gentle moist compresses at home, pain medication, and a cone-shaped collar to allow healing. Both ear surgery sites came along nicely.

Chase was tough, ready for the last phase. I administered a second anesthesia 2 weeks later, removed both of her anal glands, and securely stitched her incisions. After more pain meds and another stint with the warm compresses and collar, her constant burning sensation evaporated. I remember squinting through a magnifying loop 10 days later as I nipped each suture out of her backside.

It was 1991; we didn’t have powerhouse anti-itch drugs like Atopica and Cytopoint yet but our veterinary dermatologist was able to tailor an injection series, along with antihistamines, that reduced Chase’s scratching to a tolerable annoyance. Her ears and rear were finally happy and, equally important, so was her person.


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Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom ( Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet behavioral or physical questions or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.