On Tuesday we had our check-up with Dr. C. We were hoping that he would tell us that Scout’s ear infection was indeed gone and that we could begin to evaluate her food. Instead he gave us slightly different news.
Scout was not excited to be back at the vet’s again, to say the least. Instead of roaming around the room, sniffing every inch of square footage, she hung out right next to B and me, sitting between our legs and staring at the door, waiting for Dr. C to arrive. After Dr. C had examined her, he had some good news for us. Scout’s last ear infection is gone, so stop and cheer for that for a second: Hooray! Because of this, Dr. C was able to see much farther down into her ear canal than he has before (when it was really inflamed). He saw that she has a heavy buildup of wax right next to her ear drum. A dog’s ear is shaped like an “L”, with the top of the “L” representing the outside of the ear and the bottom end representing the inside of the canal next to the ear drum. We can’t reach around the curve in her ear canal to clean, obviously. Dr. C thinks that maybe, if we’re lucky, Scout’s reoccurring ear infections have been caused all along by this wax buildup and not by a food allergy.
So, the game plan is to clean Scout’s ear every other day for a week with a cleaning solution that is made to break down wax buildup in the ear. This involves us squirting this cleaner into her ear and massaging it for three minutes, then flushing her ear with warm water using one of those bubble things I’ve seen mom’s suck snot out of their kids’ noses with. (Fun!) By some stroke of luck, we have one of these bubble contraptions. Where did we get it? Why do we have it? I’ve no idea, but we do. Fate knew that we would need to squirt warm water into our dog’s left ear in order to remove wax one day, and it provided the necessary tools.*
Anyway, we’ll do that every other day for a week, and then move on to part two, where we use this solution once a week for a month. If at any time Scout’s infection comes back, we’ll know that either a) this wax cleaner isn’t working, or b) it’s food related, as we originally thought.
The only other way to clean Scout’s ear of this buildup, because of its location so close to her ear drum, would be to sedate her and clean it while she’s asleep. We’ve got high hopes we can avoid this and get the wax cleaner to work. Assuming it does, we’d use the wax cleaner once a month to prevent the buildup from coming back. Say it with me now: THIS IS GOING TO WORK.
*You want to know the really crazy part of all of this? I can actually relate to what Scout’s going through. I had horrible trouble with ear-wax buildup when I was little. I have memories of my mom taking me to the doctor so that he could flush my ears out. When I was a kid, they didn’t use the water method that they use now—they carved that stuff out using a long metal stick that looked like a miniature cattle prod. But it did help. My ears always felt much better afterward. I even remember the sensation of the wax being removed and how it felt like someone was uncorking my ear. Later on, doctors tried the water technique on me, blasting a tube of warm water into my ear while my head sat cockeyed over a little bowl and water ran down my neck onto my shirt. It never worked for me. Now my dog is going through the same thing. Cra-zy. Let’s hope the water technique works better for her than it did for me.