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Hi all! TIA for all of your time and input here. I’ve been lurking on this forum for a while and I’m grateful to have it as a resource.

My partner and I cropped our 9wk4 day old pup Beatrix (Bea) last Friday (August 28th). At the time I’m posting this she is 4 days post op. We decided to go with a medium crop and, from what I can see, it’s going to look really nice on her. Her ears are taped to a cup on her head and edges are exposed, stitches are still in at this point. She has also been wearing an e collar per vet orders, so as not to scratch her stitches.

Our vet recommended we clean her edges 2x per day with either a 50/50 mix of alcohol and water or peroxide and water and to remove all scabs while cleaning the ear (at this point I should note that I’m a first time dobie mom and dog owner, while my partner grew up with boxers). We attempted to do this on her first night back home with disastrous results- Bea cried and cried and cried and backed away from us whining despite the barrage of pets and treats that were given to her during the attempt. Also- we didn’t barrel into this full force. We did (I think) a reasonable job of easing into it as well without trying to surprise her, and pre surgery and otherwise she has always been agreeable to things like inner ear touches and us clipping her nails.

In the wake of the disaster that was the first and only cleaning attempt, I did some more research and found that more and more people are foregoing cleanings with peroxide, alcohol, and neosporin in favor of warm water, sterile saline/wound wash, a little bit of petroleum jelly or nothing at all and just letting the scabs heal and fall off by themselves. I don’t understand why my vet (a very well known, reputable vet with a long standing reputation doing Doberman and boxer ear drops) would recommend such invasive cleaning and sanitizing if less is more, and she is on a 10 day course of antibiotics and pain meds. Especially given the histrionics, my partner and I have opted for the less is more route and have been touching her ear gently with wound wash and then putting a tiny bit of aquaphor/petroleum jelly to her scabs which she barely tolerates, and then rewarding.
To break down my questions and concerns more succinctly:

- what are the best ways you all have found for cleaning ears post crop? We’ve tried and have been trying distractions and rewards but she seems hip to our game, and seems to be very guarded when it comes to her ears.

-are we being good dobie parents and doing right by our baby? While I understand the rationale behind keeping the area free of bacteria and the need to avoid infection, I do not want to cause her any undue harm with stinging cleansers and picking at her scabs. But I’m afraid I’m doing the wrong thing by not following the vets orders despite multiple accounts saying leaving the scabs to heal on their own, and that less is more here.

-additionally, she’s being rather lethargic/scratching incessantly at her e collar/cup. I imagine the lethargy is due at least in part to the meds and maybe also to her headgear (she seems to have trouble falling asleep and getting comfy the way she used to). Her appetite is good and she seems fine otherwise (no weird smells/other pain/odd behavior) but she seems so subdued, especially after 4 days post op. Is this common?

Again, thank you all SO much for reading my novel and for helping me, my partner, and my baby Bea.
 

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You don't need to put anything on her ears unless she actually has an infection going on right now, or pick at the scabs at all. Just let them be—keep an eye out for swelling, raw or oozing skin irritation, or a nasty smell. The scab should crust up and dry out, and then fall off once the skin underneath has healed. Picking at them will just keep the cut area open longer.

She may not even need an e-collar—most pups don't and in fact the e-collar often makes them scratch even more. It's uncomfortable and can push her ears forward and rub on their tender edges.

I would stop doing anything that might be painful to her ears, take off the collar and keep an EAGLE eye on her. Don't let her really go to town on her ears, but you can let her scratch just a time or two—without the collar she's likely to quit fussing with them after an experimental scratch. If you can find a special toy or game to play to take her mind off her ears it might help. Keep it up with the treats and toys, and just work your way around to rubbing her behind her ears. If you're treating them gently without doing anything that hurts them, she should enjoy the massage—eventually.

You're going to be doing a lot of posting once her ears heal, so your goal should be to get her used to you handling her ears by the time they have healed (usually about a week after the stitches are out.)
 

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I'm going to second melbrod's post. Leave them alone! There is no need to apply anything to her ears and certainly no need to take scabs off. Just let them heal and do their thing. I don't understand these terrorists that recommend removing scabs. WTH?!
 

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I can't believe your vet recommended putting alcohol on a baby puppy's freshly cropped ears.

I would just water rinse my puppies once a day and put a bit of bacterin on their ears every other day. I also gently run my finger up and down the ear so the scabs can fall off as they may.

For itching you can use those blow up innertube type collars, they work well and take the e collar off, those things are wretched. Even see how she does with nothing on. A little bit of scratching isn't the end of the world as long as she isn't making them bleed.
 

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I agree with others - please, leave your pup's ears alone and let them heal! She cries because you're hurting her when you remove scabs.

Honestly, I would be fairly concerned that she's lethargic 4 days post-op. Puppies typically bounce back pretty quickly after cropping.

Where are you located? Maybe someone can recommend an experienced Doberman person nearby to help you.

This is one reason most people on this forum strongly recommend ethical breeders, especially for inexperienced owners. The breeder should have handled cropping and after-care as part of their commitment to the puppies they produce.
 
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Stay with us as you did not know any better.
We have some of the most experienced people within this forum when it comes to posting ears.
I am certain you are worried about your new baby and the pain caused from following your vets instructions.
But thats in the past....stay with us and we can help your pup.
Welcome to our world !!!
 

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UGH! I certainly agree with everyone who has disagreed with your vet about using peroxide or alcohol to clean the ear edges. Peroxide can actually delay healing by traumatizing the raw tissue. And alcohol stings like the devil.

Your vet may have been cropping ears forever and a day but his suggested post care methods are very old. The cup method is great and relatively new. You'll rarely have an infection with cupped ears--because they are open to air and you can easily catch an infection when it first starts. And the puppy is on antibiotics--for 10 days--that should pretty much take care of stopping infections before they start.

Most of the croppers I've dealt with over the years (many years--got my first Dobe in 1959) want you to leave the ears alone. At most I might use plain water to clean an ear edge and mostly all I'd do is spray it on the edge and blot it with a gauze pad. And do NOT mess with the scabs. First of all they are there because they protect the raw edge and secondly I've seen puppies raised by adamant scab pickers who have scalloped ear edges because every time you pick a scab off an unhealed ear edge you take a little tissue with it. So leave them alone--the scabs will fall off when there is healed tissue beneath them.

I don't use e-collars on my puppies with newly cropped ears. The only time I think they are very useful is when you are a breeder and have an entire litter and the first few days the e-collars will prevent puppies from hurting each other. But beyond that for a single puppy I wouldn't use an e-collar. I've found the while many puppies will try scratching or rubbing their newly cropped ears--the first time they make contact and find it HURTS they stop trying to scratch. If I had a very determined puppies I might use the inflatable donut which is much more easily tolerated by a newly cropped puppy.

And my personal preference is to not give pain med more than for the first day or two. Dobes are light weights generally when it comes to pain medication and it will definitely make them rather groggy. I don't think I've ever given pain meds for more than two days and generally for only one day.

Basically the ears that heal fastest are those where the scabs are allowed to remain where they are and nothing is put on the ear edge. A dry ear will rarely infect and usually will heal as fast or faster than one where an owner is trying to clean and medicate an edge.

Good luck--it's always a learning process with ears.

dobebug
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks so much guys! This really helped and was super reassuring to read. Small follow up q- We’re almost to the finish line of her getting her stitches out- the cup came off last night but the vet isn’t available today to put one back on. She gets her stitches out in 3 days. What should I do? Should I be worried?
 

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Just go ahead and let her ears dangle. Or you can tape them tip to tip over the top of her head (again, no tape on the cut areas.) It may take a week or so after the stitches are removed for her ears to heal completely and before you can start posting. You can't post until all the scabs are gone and there are no open cuts—you need pink healthy skin everywhere the tape will go.
 

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e collars are bad? My vet gave us an inflatable donut.
Once i got Nani home and settled she woke up later and started scratching at her head so i put it on. she is sleeping with it now.
Should she really not have it on? :(
 
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One of the big problems with e-collars come from those big plastic lampshade things—they're awkward for the dog and tend to rub on the ears and push them forward.

I don't think a donut collar would be quite as bad that way. Sometimes a pup will scratch too much when there is something going on like a developing infection, and some are just determined little creatures, but most pups don't really need them. They scratch a few times and then leave their ears alone. You could try letting your puppy go without one during the day when you can keep your eyeballs on her at ALL times and see how she does. You'll need to be doing that anyway when she's out of her crate—it makes it a lot easier to potty train them if you catch mistakes before they happen.

She'll be much happier if you don't have to fool with her ears at all while they're sore. And definitely no alcohol or peroxide—those sting like crazy, and peroxide can actually damage tissue, making it slower to heal. It has its uses to clean foreign stuff out of a dirty wound (though they even moving away from that recommendation), but not for a clean sutured area.

Try gentle ear massages staying away from the cut edge, and rub/scritch her all around her ears (right behind the ears is usually a sweet spot) while you let her nibble treats out of your fingers (or out of your closed hand—make her work a little to get them) and also when she's snuggled against you half asleep to teach her that you touching her ears can feel good too.
 
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