Cut on ear will not heal

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Boxer Pal
Mugsy has a cut on his ear that will not heal. His ears are not cropped. Several months ago, the edges of his ears were fraying. The edges of his ears have cleared up with ointment, however, he now has a dime sized cut that will not heal and continues to scab over, bleed again, scab over... The ointment doesn't seem to help.

Anyone had a similar experience. The vet is telling me to chop off half his ear, but I am not exactly happy with a vet whose first suggestion is always surgery.

Any help appreciated. Thanks


Boxer Booster
Welcome to winter. We have the same problem with Tucker every year (crossing our fingers, not yet this season). We've had the recommendation too to chop off his ear but won't do that. Band aids help with the blood splatter, but you need to find the right kind. Regular old bandaids stay on the best (not sport kind, not the cloth-like kind....those don't stay on). We put two on Perpendicular to eachother and leave on for as long as possible.

If your boy will stand it, get some vet wrap and wrap his ear close to his head so he doesn't continue to re-open it every time he shakes. A single knee high nylon stocking will work too. Tucker knows how to get these off so it doesn't work for us anymore.

I think we went over 2 months last year before it fully healed. Ointments have never helped for fact I think they make it worse because they keep the scab "moist" which causes blood to splatter every time he shakes.

Invest in mr. Clean magic erasers and be patient; it will heal. Good luck,we feel you're pain!

Tuff Love

Boxer Insane
Cut the ear off? Yikes! Sounds a little drastic for a little booboo doesn't it??? Thora had a bad scab on the edge of her ear last summer, about an inch long. It took a good 2-3 months to heal all the way because the scab kept breaking off. I advise to just keep it clean and be patient. Ears take a long time to heal but it will eventually get better.


Boxer Insane
Well, if the vet is advocating trimming the ear, it just might be that it is severe enough to warrant doing so. You could always get a second opinion from another vet.

I have had quite a bit of experience with ear tears and the like. My female developed a small ear hematoma from scratching/shaking during an ear infection that ended up rupturing. Also my male tore a 1 inch gash in his ear on wire fencing that practically sliced clean through the ear--bled like a faucet and took forever to heal.

If you're treating an ear tear, here are my suggestions:

Keep the area clean. Don't use alcohol (stings too much) or hydrogen peroxide (too rough on the tissue). Instead use a nice, mild antiseptic wash. Vetericyn makes a good one that comes in a squeeze bottle that is good for irrigating wounds and as a spray that makes it easy to apply to the surface of wounds. I always keep a bottle on hand. I also recommend betadine if you can't get something like the Vetericyn.

Shave the ear. If you have a tear that isn't healing, consider shaving the outside of the ear flap around the wound. Even though the ear hair is short it can still prevent bandages from sticking well. I used my husband's beard trimmer because it was small and didn't make alot of noise (shhhh, don't tell him). This will also prevent any blood from forming a huge, loose scab all crusted to the surrounding hair. Instead you will get a nice tight scab right where the wound is that will be harder for the dog to accidentally shake off.

As best as you can, bring the edges of the tear together. This will increase the chance that the tear will heal up smooth with minimal scarring. You can use a butterfly bandage for this. You can also use Dermabond if you can get your hands on some. Dermabond is referred to as "liquid stitches" and is used in place of sutures on small cuts, tear, and incisions to hold the tissue together during healing. You will probably need to get it from your vet. They may not just give it to you as it is a medical supply. You might have some luck with Liquid Bandage. This is meant to go on the surface of wounds to provide a barrier. Warning*** Liquid Bandage stings alot. It can however help to hold the tear together if you use it along with a butterfly bandage.

Apply a THIN layer of triple antibiotic ointment to the wound. This is where most people screw things up by gooping on the stuff. If you've brought the edges of the tear together nicely, the ointment isn't inside the wound--just providing a really thin barrier on the surface. You need the tissue on either side of the tear to touch in order to heal back together so if you fill it with goop it won't. If your wound is more of a surface abrasion than a tear let a scab form before using the ointment. If the edges of the tear are uneven and don't come together well, don't use any ointment at all. Just regularly spritz with the antiseptic wash. You will probably end up with a larger scar and/or an uneven edge once it is all healed.

Immobilize the ear. Even little tears bleed A LOT so while the scab is forming, you want to keep the ear nice and still so the dog can't shake off the scab or scratch at it. Get some VetWrap (self adhesive stretchy bandaging). Lay the ear against the side of the dog's head and wrap around the whole head and ear. You can also use the leg of a pantyhose and slide it over the dogs head to hold the ear in place.

Allow for airflow around the wound. At least once a day take off any wrap or gauze and let the tear be exposed to the air for an hour or two. You can keep the butterfly bandages on since they are holding the wound closed. Occupy your dog with a big bone or bully stick or something so they will be so preoccupied that they don't shake or scratch at the ear.

Once the scab is well-formed you will find that you don't need so much dressing and wrapping. You might be able to get away with just some loose bandaids. What worked well for me is to get the oversized bandaids--the kind that are large enough for a skinned knee or elbow. I sandwiched the ear between two of these large bandaids and trimmed off the extra length. It worked much better than trying to bend one bandaid over the edge of the ear.

Keep an eye on the tear and watch for signs of infection (redness, inflammation, foul odor, oozing pus). Spritz daily with the antiseptic wash. Let the ear dry completely before rebandaging or rewraping. Change the bandaids as needed. Once the tear begins to heal, the scab will start to itch and the dog is likely to scratch and shake, opening it up again. This is when you will want to start using the antibiotic cream to keep the scab soft and pliable so it doesn't crack open and to reduce the itching.

You might need to have your dog wear a cone for a while to prevent him from scratching at the ear. I actually wrapped my dog's feet on the side of the torn ear and that was enough to kept her from using them to scratch at the bandages but your results may vary.

Ear tears take a long time to heal and if they are reopened they bleed like an SOB. Good luck.
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