(Obligatory disclaimer – I’m not a vet, nor am I a medical professional in any way, shape or form. Seek the advice of a real professional before trying this on your dog. Thank you!)
I’ve searched for good advice on this, but haven’t been very successful, so I thought I’d post what works for my dog in the hopes that someone else will find it useful too.
I have two vizslas, but only this one tends to have ear problems. It starts with the itching – she gets a lot of waxy buildup along with allergies, especially at this time of year – which also leads to a lot of high-speed head shaking. When I clean the ears, of course, more vigorous shaking inevitably follows. The sound is rather like a small string of fireworks going off. The speed at the tips of her big dumbo ears is probably close to breaking the sound barrier, much like the tip of a properly-snapped whip. Combined with the fact that she often doesn’t care what her ears hit while she flaps her head (table edges, door jambs, box corners, etc.), it is inevitable that she will occasionaly cut the tips of her ears.
The problem is that once a cut is open and starts to bleed, it won’t heal on its own, because every time she shakes her head it opens again, and the cut gradually gets worse over time. It’s not prone to infection (the wound is certainly not stagnating), but it won’t close up. Among other things, this leads to tiny spatters of blood in unlikely places (high on walls, in an arc across the ceiling – seriously, if a forensics team ever examines my house they’re going to wonder what exactly we’ve been doing in here all these years…). It also leads to an anxious and apparently depressed dog – she knows she’s wounded, but she doesn’t look forward to the treatment (the first time involved a lot of trial and error, poor thing).
This was our first attempt at care, per the vet’s instructions. Using a very sticky two-inch-wide tape (like sticky ace bandage, and it’s vital for this kind of problem, so of course I can’t find it anywhere) we strapped the wounded ear to her head, so that it couldn’t be irritated by the flapping. There were many problems with this approach, not the least being her general misery. The ear began to bruise where it was held back, from her rubbing and laying on it, along with the decreased circulation caused by being held for a prolonged period in an unnatural position. Also, the tape would eventually fail and she’d still flap the wound open again. What finally helped, that first time, was Band-Aid Liquid Bandage (this is specific – the spray on types and the brush-on types are not strong enough for this!) in conjunction with taping the ear up. It was a compromise, and it took a while to heal, but it did work.
The next time I came up with a more ideal solution (which I can’t duplicate now because I ran out of that tape I mentioned earlier – I’ll have to see if the vet has more).
First, apply the Band-Aid Liquid Bandage (or better yet the skin-crack gel version). Next, cover it with either a regular bandaid (right now I’m trying a Curad Extreme Hold knuckle bandage – I was hoping it would stick to the underside of the ear without extra help, but it hasn’t held up) or better yet a Band-Aid Advanced Healing bandage (I love these – they work like a natural scab and are wonderful for people, but they don’t have the requisite sticking power on their own for furry ears). Finally, to make it stay on, overlay with the very sticky tape I mentioned above, using as much as needed to hold everything in place. This way, the wound stays covered while the ear can flap free. Right now, I’m trying regular sports tape, and I’m 99% sure she’s going to shake it loose the first time she flaps her head (as soon as she wakes from her nap…). Leave the bandaging in place for several days, if possible (this is where the Advanced Healing Band-Aids come in – they are meant to be left on for several days).
Now, this next part is just as important: when the wound has healed, or you need to remove the very sticky tape, for the love of pooch don’t just pull it off! – your dog will have abrasions and a bald spot, along with a serious phobia of anyone touching her ears. Instead, use oil: pure citrus oil or even cooking oil will work. Massage it along the edge of the tape, and carefully lift as you go. This will remove the tape and the adhesive painlessly, and will probably soothe the anxious dog as well. If the wound hasn’t healed yet, clean off the oil, dry the ear, and repeat the application process.
If this sounds like a plug for Band-Aids, what can I say? I’ve tried a lot of products in this particular endeavor and it always comes back to Band-Aid. Their liquid bandage and advanced care bandages really are the best that I’ve tried, for the dog and for me. Maybe later I’ll post my awesome method of healing a cooking-oil burn with no scar :).
Anyway, for anyone else out there with a similar problem, I hope this has been helpful!