Henry is a one and a half year old Cocker Spaniel. For the last 6 months or so, Henry has been a regular visitor to Reservoir Vet Clinic with ear problems. Like many Cocker Spaniels and other floppy-eared breeds, Henry was suffering from an ear infection. Big, floppy ears are a perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria, especially as the ear canal remains dark and moisture cannot evaporate away. We expect a little bacteria and yeast in most ears, but if the population gets out of control it can cause discomfort, swelling and itching. I am sure you can imagine how irritating this could be in your ears!
After trying some medicated ear drops and ear washes for several weeks, Dr Andrea decided that it would be better for Henry to have his ears cleaned while under a general anaesthetic. Using the VetScope machine (a rigid light and camera probe) Dr Andrea would be able to see large wax plugs blocking both of Henry's ears. Wax is the ear's natural defence against foreign invaders and infected ears often produce more wax. No drops or cleansers were going to be able to penetrate these plugs so the best option for Henry was to have a general anaesthetic and Dr Andrea would clean and flush away the wax.
The night before Henry's procedure his owners prepared him by withholding food from him after his dinner. He was given access to water overnight but had no breakfast. It is important to fast all patients before an anaesthetic to minimise the risk of them vomiting and inspiring foreign matter into the lungs while asleep. Henry was placed on intravenous fluids to support his liver and kidneys as they processed the anaesthetic drugs. An injection was given to induce anaesthesia and a breathing tube was placed in Henry's trachea to deliver oxygen and anaesthetic gas to his lungs. Dr Andrea then used the VetScope to see the wax plugs while Nurse Anna flushed the ear canal with saline. After some effort both ears were finally cleaned and Henry was woken up from his anaesthetic.
Henry recovered well and went home the same day. He was sent home with more ear drops and plenty of instructions were given to his owners about how to keep Henry's ears in the best possible condition. We hope that with good management, this floppy-eared dog will be happier and more comfortable with his ears in the future.