If your best friend is a Boxer, Doberman, Great Dane, Schnauzer, or Pit Bull. . . not to mention several other breeds, you may be trying to decide whether or not to put the pup through ear cropping.
There are several important things to consider, first, do you have a veterinarian nearby that performs the procedure? Fewer and fewer do, it seems. Do some research to find out who in your area does. There is a lot of follow up care and having the vet nearby is important. Most vets do not want to be responsible for follow up of this procedure if they are unfamiliar with the surgery.
Second, before you start down this road, make sure your puppy has had his vaccines and deworming procedures started. Make sure he is on a good quality food and is over all very healthy. These things will help him heal faster than if his system is otherwise compromised.
Ear cropping is usually done around 9 to 11 weeks of age. Any later and the ears may not want to stand. You are trying to find that time when the puppy is old enough to handle the surgery and anesthesia well, but young enough that the cartilage is not set in their ears yet.
The surgery is done by surgically removing a portion of the ear and suturing the incision then placing the ear in an upright position in some form of rack. Often a tall paper cup or aluminum splint. The ears will need to heal for days before the sutures are removed.
Follow up care is undoubtedly more difficult and time consuming than the surgery itself and is vital to the ultimate outcome.
Leaving sutures longer than 7 days can result in scaring along the ear edge. The ears will still have quite a few scabs at this stage and may be very senstive and bleed yet. It now becomes more difficult to keep the ears in the rack.
As the ears heal they itch and drive the pup crazy. Dilute betadine and Neosporin can help the healing process and relieve some of the itching, however it can also loosen the tape used to secure the ears so stay well away from the tape if you can.
A mild sedative may even be advisable for this stage of the healing as the puppy may be quite uncomfortable.
Find out the vets office hours for future reference. The ears are very susceptible to coming down from now until they stand. NEVER try to tape the ears up yourself unless you have been well educated how to do so by your vet.
If you tape around the raw edge of the ear, or if you tape too tightly you can actually cut off the circulation to the ear very quickly, causing it to die and fall off. It happens. There is no repair for an ear that has died and fallen off.
The ears will stay in the rack for 17- 21 days until they are fully healed and starting to stand on their own. From here they will be wrapped in soft cotton wraps with tape and will stay like this until they stand. Typically your vet will want to check on them every 10-14 days if the pup leaves the bandages alone that long.
If, or rather when, your puppy gets his or her ears out of whatever apparatus they are in, it is vital that you get him to the vet within an hour or so. The longer the ears stay down, the longer they will take to stand.
It may be a good idea to have a crash course in the do's and don'ts of emergency taping in case you have a mishap over a weekend or holiday.
A breed with a short ear, like a Pit Bull or a Schnauzer will have quicker results. Dobermans, Danes, and Boxers will take longer because they have more ear to fight gravity. Post surgery healing and after care play a big role in the length of time it takes to have a finished ear, but genetics as much as anything is the biggest influence.
Some ears will stand quickly, others may take months. The longest I have known of was my own dog, Dharma. She is a beautiful Boxer who took 10 months for the desired result. Most take closer to 3 or 4 months total.
Be sure you are ready for this undertaking. It is a lot to go through for you and the pup but it does create a beautiful profile and a very distinct look specific to just your breed of choice.
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