Introduction: Ear Protector for Dog

Picture of Ear Protector for Dog

Our Cocker Spaniel has Cushing's disease, which (among other things) means that he's very susceptible to infections and illness. He currently has a nasty ear infection. He's shaking his head, throwing it back and forth, flapping his ears and actually doing damage to them.

I took a T-shirt sleeve and made a cover for his head--we've been calling it a "wimple"--to keep his ears from flapping when he throws his head. Hopefully the antibiotics will kick in soon and he'll have relief, but in the meantime he gets to wear an interesting headband.

I got the idea for this from a post-surgical body sleeve he had once, but at the vet's yesterday I got a lot of comments and compliments on it. The vet and vet techs hadn't seen anything like it, but they admired how useful and practical it was for this problem. Therefore I am posting it here, in the hope that perhaps it might help someone else who has a similar problem.

I used an old T-shirt sleeve, scissors, sewing machine and thread.

Step 1: Sizing and Securing

Picture of Sizing and Securing

I cut the sleeve off the T-shirt just past the seam. I slipped it over his head to see how it fit. I pinched it a bit to see how much I'd need to pull in. I turned it inside out and sewed next to the original sleeve seam. I ended up having to make it more of an even tube (the original sleeve flared toward the shoulder). I repeated this a couple of times until it was snug but not choking. I cut off the extra outside of the new seam.

Even though it was snug, it didn't want to stay in place. And of course, he didn't want to leave it alone; he rubbed his head on the floor and pawed at it. (He was rubbing against things anyway because his ear hurts him so much.)

I made a couple of tucks in front of and behind the ears. This made the whole thing puff outwards at the ears, and a little too tight in front/behind the ears to slip over them easily. I had to be very gentle putting it on, since the ear infection makes his ears tender, but once on it stayed pretty well. His ears don't flap when he shakes his head, he can't pull it off with his paws, and he can't pull it off by rubbing against the floor or the walls.

I made this in a hurry, since he was damaging himself, so I wasn't able to get photos of the process. Let me know if these are not clear enough, and I can get photos once his ear infection settles down enough to let me take the wimple off.

Comments

Dianne123 (author)2014-08-04

The problem with cocker spaniel ear infections is that the ear structure totally covers the ear canal opening. Moisture and bacteria are then sealed in. I'm presently using one of those plastic springlike keychains, cutting off the end latches, running it across her head, under her ears and twisted a few turns behind her ears, like a headband. This increases airflow. Leave the spring unstretched when positioning. Don't know if this will help. Doing a round of Posatex from the vet right now, then we'll use the boric acid mix to upkeep.

galadriel (author)Dianne1232014-08-05

You know, I have some doubts about the "ear flap covering the ear canal" assumption, even though it's made by a lot of vets as well as owners. Galahad never had an ear infection until this one, at the age of 8. He had suddenly developed environmental allergies (with associated skin infections). We used to get all kinds of remarks from vets about how he "must" constantly suffer ear infections, but no; when they checked his ears, they remained perfect and clear, until he had other skin issues that also caused ear infections.

Once he had the allergies properly diagnosed and a good treatment program, he hasn't had further ear infections. He's 14 now.

In a dog with issues that influence ear infections--severe food/environmental allergies that persist despite treatment, damaged ear canals, autoimmune disorders, etc--I doubt the shape of the ear will be a factor in recurring ear infections. I suspect the health issues will be the causative factor. (I tend to think that the cocker reputation for persistent ear infections has to do with decades of overbreeding and common mild, probably undiagnosed, health issues.)

What I *do* know is that a dog tossing his head and flapping his ears can burst a vein in the ear, which doesn't help anything, and that the resulting cauliflower ear can remain painful for the rest of the dog's life. So in an emergency, when a dog is throwing his ears around and the vet can't see him for a few hours, having a way to contain those ears can be really helpful. Containing the ears until the treatment kicks in and the dog is more comfortable will be important too.

This thing took about 30 seconds to make, then another 10 minutes or so of futzing to make it fit. Once I got it to go on and stay, it kept him from being able to throw his ears every 30 seconds and possibly damage one or both.

What's more, it didn't prevent the ear infection from clearing up--after about a day the treatment relieved the discomfort, and I could take it off, and his ears were simply hanging normally. Unless a dog's ear flap is somehow stuck to his ear canal and not able to move around, there _will_ be some air flow under the flap.

There are all kinds of instances where we cover something intentionally and yet there is suitable airflow--have you ever seen those plastic cupped eye patches used to cover an injured eye while it heals? It's covering the eye, but the eye is still getting necessary air flow, or it wouldn't heal. It does not take much of a sliver of an opening or much movement of the cover to provide a noticeable amount of air flow.

Fishyfish123 (author)2014-06-17

You dog is so cute hope he is all good now!

alsoTracy (author)2013-05-20

The real name for this is called a snood. People with long eared dogs also use them to keep the ears out of their food bowl when eating etc.. You did a great job! Hope your dog is feeling better now.

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