Showered in Discharge on the Way to Ear Redemption

Dog watching

Second in a series

Miss Manners did a fine job of holding “Chase” on the exam table. After evaluating this big shaggy dog’s skin I examined her teeth and gums. Finding no pain or swelling I moved North. Peering at me through a thick mop of hair were a pair of bright and healthy peepers. Those ears, well, they told a different story.

By some estimates ear infections are the most common problem seen by veterinarians, often smoldering for months. Heavily haired flaps can easily obscure redness, discharge, and a yeasty odor.

Our dogs love us. When we’re home with them they watch for opportunities to earn play, affection, and food. It’s after we leave that they focus more on what’s bothering them. They scoot, rub, dig, and lick at those unhappy places believing that we’ll never know. If you make the mistake of scolding your dog for fidgeting, they learn not to – when you’re in the same room.

I carefully slid my otoscope into each of Chase’s ear canals and was greeted by a prodigious quantity of sticky beige discharge. Her attentive owner had noticed the raunchy smell during a recent home grooming. This girl needed help.

A dab of discharge, gram-stained and viewed under the microscope, revealed a veritable army of yeast and bacteria. No surprise. I retrieved a towel, a kidney-shaped basin, an ear syringe, and dilute disinfectant. And then I asked Miss Manners if she still wanted to hold her big hairy dog and risk being showered by disinfectant and hunks of ear debris when the inevitable head shaking erupted. Of course, she was game.

I slung a big thick towel over Chase’s head and gently irrigated her unhappy ear canals. When we finished I resembled a drowned rat but my client was miraculously unscathed. We call that success. I prescribed ear medication and, for all that itching, an antihistamine. This pupster needed to feel better if she was going to get better; it doesn’t take a lot of scratching and scraping to damage skin and ears and rears. Next week: Recalcitrant anal glands
For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). 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 on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.