Cropping is done... now on to the hard part!

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XandersMom's picture
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A doberman with nice, trimmed, alert ears is breathtakingly beautiful.  That's why it wasn't difficult to make the decision to have Xander's ears cropped.  We took him to the vet yesterday and dropped him off.  I had quite a bit of "mommy guilt" at having to leave him there and I didn't want him to develop any anxiety or abandonment issues.

We picked him up earlier today and he was very happy to see me.  But, I couldn't have been prepared for seeing my baby with his ears cut up and bloody, taped to a styrofoam cup on his head.  Owwie!  Poor little guy.

So, now we have the insanely difficult challenge of keeping him from scratching at his cup and stitches.  Every time I turn around he's trying to scratch.  The vet gave us pain medication and some ointment to give him and I'm sure it helps somewhat, but he still tries to scratch.  Our vet wants to see him in 2 weeks to have the cup and stitches removed at which time they'll start the taping/posting.  I seriously don't see how we are going to keep this cup on his head for the full two weeks.  Does that sound normal to those of you who've been through this?

What is the best way to keep him from scratching?

He's going to be beautiful when all this is over... but as a parent, it's killing me to watch him have to go through this process.

Tell me it's going to be okay.

Sigh,
Angie
Xander's Mom

rgreen4's picture
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Having been through this more than a dozen times, I feel the real thing they object to is the cup on top. Of course, as the incision area heals it will start to itch. Two weeks seems like a very long time to me. My vet has always removed the sutures approximately 7 days after surgery. But, each vet does it a little differently. Keep an eye on the area and especially be alert for any possible infection in the area. It is not common, I have only had it once, when I had to have about 6 cropped at once. I had not managed to sell them prior to them needing cropping. I had one that got an infection in the bell area (under the ear) and had a difficult time because I could not separate them at that time.

Do not worry if the cup comes off. Princess was the first that I had with a cup on the head. My first Dobe that was cropped the vet taped the ears tip to tip over the top of the head leaving the back edge clear of tape (it ran the length of one ear and then over to the other ear). Other vets (including my current one) have left the ears loose while they had stitiches in them. The cup gives the ears a head start and Princess's ears stood quicker and easier than any previous Dobe I have had.

Take a lot of pictures because this age is fleeting. Here is Princess at that stage and a little over two weeks later. In between was only one week of posting.

XandersMom's picture
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Wow, Princess looks fabulous.  That gives me hope.  The vet says we should expect about 6 weeks of posting to get them to stand.  Were you able to stop posting after the one week?? Or, did you continue with it just to be sure they continued to stand as well as they did in your photo?  We did the medium crop, which I've been told is a bit quicker.  Right now, his ears look a bit like hamburger, and I'm hoping that they heal fast so I won't be so paranoid about him rubbing up on pant legs, grass and furniture.

Furthermore, maybe he'll be less likely to be bothered once he gets used to having the cup on his head.  He's really acting out right now, completely disregarding the "No" commands that he responded to well before the surgery.  He's acting more aggressive and all around being a real brat.  I'm attributing that to the fact that he's not feeling well and as he starts healing and getting back into a routine, these behaviors will end.

Thank your for your encouragement, RG.  If Xander looks like Princess when this is done, it will all be completely worth it.  :D

OmegaWolf's picture
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Listen to rgreen4, whose advice (and rnddoberman's) got me through this exact thing in April/May with Ike.  Actually, you seem to have an advantage in that you've got a local vet to advise you.

Advice I can offer: Xander is going to try to get the cup off his head.  Your goal is to make it last as long as possible.  The styrofoam will begin to split at the bottom (the lip of the cup), where it meets his skull; reinforce that with duct tape around the lip - preferably inside and out, if you can get inside.

I tend to agree with you, from experience, that the cup will not last for two weeks.  You may want to change it after a week, allowing a sabbatical day for Xander's ears to air out.

Gently massaging the nonbleeding suture areas seems to help the healing process a little.

From a "final product" standpoint, the most important thing is a good, stretched out bell in the ear.  Watch out for folds that may develop and try to loosen them up.  Otherwise, one ear or both might flop, and all your efforts will be in vain.  When you get to the posting phase you'll have more control over this.

Lastly, get him a couple of those clear plastic cone heads from your local pet store.  They attach/detach with velcro, and will help preserve your investment (both Xander and the cropping!) from infection.  I say a couple because he will eventually destroy it.

The good news is, unless you got him the long show crop, you'll only need to do this for 3-4 weeks from the operation.

Check out the thread entitled "First Cup Attempt" - rgreen4 and rnddobermans had great advice for me at this stage, which will benefit you as well.  Also, there are links to some very detailed "how-to" articles in there on the web.

Xander is going to look fantastic when this is over! 

rgreen4's picture
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XandersMom - yes, I only posted Princess for a week. One Week! Now, that is really an abnormally short time. The only explanation I can give is that the vet operated on her at the exactly perfect time. The cartilage in her ear was perfectly ready and the cropping was done before a fold started. At about 4 months, she developed a slight curl outward that is visible when viewing her head on, but I have not re-posted. Actually, it is not too late for a tweak like that even now at 8 months, because it is the upper 1/3 of the ear.

From this point, a floppy ear or floppy ears are not a problem. If Xander gets the cup off of his head do not worry. It is actually more likely that he will get an ear or even both untaped from the cup first. Princess got one ear loose the morning she went in to get the stitches out and the cup removed, so I did not worry about it. That was the 7th day. If Xander gets one loose and it's going to be a while before he goes to the vet, go ahead and take the cone off for 24 hours. Looking back at the pictures, I see my vet put a tape chin strap on Princess, but Xander does not have one. Don't be surprised if he gets it off in a few days. Not by scratching with his hind legs, but by rubbing it on things. They don't like the cones and they don't like the posts.

Watch out for creases, once an ear gets a crease, not much can be done except to love a Dobe with a catawumpus ear.

Here is Red with a creased ear (back in January) and Princess just a few weeks ago.

OmegaWolf - I have never seen a clear cone structure in a pet store. Does PetSmart carry them?

OmegaWolf's picture
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The breeder gave it to us.  She got it at a local pet store in Portland, OR.

XandersMom's picture
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It's not hard for me to imagine Xander as a big dog since he grows at least 1/2 an inch every day.  He's like a weed!!

His ears look better today and he seems to be trying to scratch them less.  I was worried about how he'd be during the night, but when we let him out of his crate this morning, the stitches were still in.

RG -- Princess's one week posting was a reward for all the other dobies you've dealt with in your life.  After so many, you deserve a break!!  Thank you so much for your advice... especially the "do not worry" portion.  I just have to keep telling myself "this too shall pass."  Before we know it, we'll be taking the tape off for the last time and his ears will be beautiful!

We tried one of the "dish" collar things, but the top end pushes on the cup and seems to bug him more than just going without it.  So, that's not an option.  We also tried socks on his feet to help cushion the scratch, but he had the socks off in 30 seconds flat (just shy of duct taping them on). 

So, we're just watching him closely and saying "No Scratch!" until we're blue in the face.

What a process... I can see why people may choose a different breed of dog that didn't require such high maintenance... but unfortunately for them, they are missing out on quite possibly the coolest breed there is!

Thanks again, everyone.

OmegaWolf's picture
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Another very important tip: eyelash glue works extremely well as a bonding agent.  It does not hurt the dog, is designed to bond to organic skin surfaces, dries to an acceptable hold in about three minutes, holds well, and comes off easily.  If you end up making your own cup, you'll want to first cover the targed bonding area on the styrofoam with a porous medical tape.  That will eliminate the need to pick out little pieces of styrofoam from your dog's ears when you have to remove it.

I'd also recommend rgreen4's approach of a chin strap.  If you do that, he may damage the cup (hence the need for lip reinforcements) but will not be able to get it off.  It will hold the ears in place for 5-6 days easily.

XandersMom's picture
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What is the best way to do a chin strap?  Do you actually tape it to their face?  Or, is it just attached to the cup and wrapped under their chin? 

We're trying to keep Xander's "party hat" on until at least Friday, though Monday would be ideal (according to the Vet).  If we don't do something soon, the cup will be off by the end of the day.  Little stinker.

rgreen4's picture
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As best as I can remember, it was taped to her under her chin. Now the vet used the stretchy type of tape so it did not cut her. In the photo, she had already pushed it back a bit. They are little devils when it comes to getting them off. On the morning of the day she was going to the vet to get the stitches out and the cup off, she go one ear loose. Since the cup was taped to her, she did not get the cup off.

Don't get it too tight. If you look closely, the vet actually put the chin strap on first. Then the wraps around the cup, then taped the ears to the cup. You might be able to put a chin strap on for a bit to slow him down while you accumulate the styrofoam cup and tape. If he gets it off, it won't be the end of the world. I have had vets (including my current one) just leave the ears loose for the first week until the incision heals.

BTW - don't panic if you do have some small blood seepage after the stitches are removed. But by the end of the second week everything should be healed and the scabs flaking off.

XandersMom's picture
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Despite our best efforts, Xander was successful in getting his cup off.  We took him to the vet who told us that now that he'd been successful in removing it, a new cup would stand little chance of staying on for any period of time.  So, they decided to just start posting. (We chose this vet because 1) he is in our general area, and 2) he trained under a well-known ear-cropper in the state of Utah).

I've read from others here on the Forum that a puppy should NOT be posted/taped when stitches are still in.  I'm a bit concerned now since that is the case with us.  Along with getting his cup off, he also pulled out 2 stitches that needed to be replaced, which they were today.  So, not only does he still have sutures in his ears, he has new ones to boot.

How concerned should I be about how this is progressing?

He seems to be adapting better to the postings than he was to the cup, even though it must be incredibly annoying to have something stuck in your ear all the time.  I know it would bug me to the point of insanity. 

Our goal, of course, is to get through this process unscathed, and with beautifully, cropped upstanding ears.

Can you take a picture of the new posting method and post so we can see how they have it wrapped? Their are many different methods that don't require covering the stitched area. I personally have had a few in cups and the way we do it they normally lasted 5-7 days. With the last 2 litters we didn't have a problem with the cup coming off and even with entire litters playing together they stayed in place fairly well.

It will be interesting to see how they posted the ears and how they plan on removing it without pulling more stitches and hurting the puppy. Keep us posted. It sounds as if the vet has already done it and no turning back now. It would not be worth at this point in taking it off the damage is done.

I apologize I didn't pay attention to the picture you posted. At least with how the vet did post he didn't cover the entire ear. I hope when they go to take them down that they soak it with something to dissolve the glue (baby oil also works) that way it will not pull the stitches. It would have been easier to do the method where they glue foam in the ear from the nub up. It doesn't look like he has the base stitches either so your cross brace will be easier to get off. Let us know how it goes.

rgreen4's picture
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By the time the posts are ready to come out (7 days, possibly 8) the stitches should also be ready to come out. The vet may have to spend a little more effort to get the posts and stitches out together, but it can be done. There does appear to be minimal tape over the stitches. He may lose a few pieces of scab, but I think things are ok. He looks good.

XandersMom's picture
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He's back to a cup.  Clearly the vet realized he made a mistake when first thing this morning he gets a call from us because Xander pulled the post out of his left ear.  We tried to put it back in, but there was no way.  We took him in, they took the posts out and re-cupped him.  The area under the tape looks good -- they didn't pull any stitches and the wound looks like it's healing nicely.  They put booties on his feet thinking that would keep him from scratching, but I can guarantee those won't stay on.  They are impractical at best... he can't even walk on the kitchen tiles without sliding.  Grrrr.

So, he's cupped again until Monday, when the stitches will come out and they'll post again.

This has been a real ordeal.  I'm beginning to wonder if the benefits are outweighing the hassles at this point.  I love the way cropped looks, but natural is SO much easier.

Just call me frustrated.  Double grrr!!  :P

Hang in their! Some vets are better at it then others. It looks from the original picture of his ear crop that you may have a tougher time at keeping posts in. If that is the case let me know I have some great ideas to help. Most of the better earcrops are hard to keep posts in if they have cut into the bell or base. This type of crop gives a nice sleek line to the head. Stick with it you will be glad when it is over and you have a BEAUTIFUL earcrop. As far as your puppy scratching at the head, you are going to have to be tough on him and do not let him do it.

My youngest Dobe Paris, has a beautiful crop, done by a specialist who just does show Doberman breeders ears. We could not keep ANY TYPE of post in her ear longer than a few hours. It was the hardest crop to wrap that I've ever experienced. I was at a show and one of the icons in Dobermans gave me a lesson how she has to post this type of crop and it was the only thing that worked and very simple. I don't know what I would have done if it hadn't been for her.

xandersdad's picture
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xander is almost done with his taping .  He has 3 more days and we will see the end result.  Last week we had the tape off for two days and they looked awesome ,but after the second day one ear was barely limp at the top 1 inch so we taped one more time . Cross your fingers.

jabberjaw's picture
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Just a quick tip if one of the ear tips sag a little.
I used a "breathe-rite" strip at the tip of Sabbath's left ear to keep it propped up for an extra week
after his posts were removed. My vet told me to do this and it worked perfectly.

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Jabberjaw -- Did you have to add additional adhesive to the Breathe-rite strip when you stuck it to the ear?  What did you find was best?