After surgery, some restrictions are necessary to ensure recovery. These include:
- Prevention of scratching of the ear incision which can be done with an E-collar (cone shaped).
- Abnormal blink response may require that eye drops are administered for two weeks.
- Oral pain medication.
- Antibiotics are necessary in the presence of severe infection.
- If the pet has stitches, they can be removed about 10-14 days post-operation.
- If there are underlying disease, medical management may be required for life so that clinical signs do not recur.
Potential postoperative complications can include:
- The inability to blink or abnormal blinking of the eye on the side of the surgery due to facial nerve damage. This occurs in a quarter to a half of cases. Damage is permanent in 10-15% of these cases.
- Loss of balance can cause a head tilt.
- In some cases, infection or secretory tissues remain and cause drainage to occur for month to years after surgery.
Hearing ability usually does not have a noticeable change as dogs with a case of severe otitis externa often have poor hearing ability prior to surgery.
Being prepared for ear problems in specific dog breeds, such as the Cocker spaniel, is essential. These dogs need to have their ears checked at least once or twice annually. If there is an infection present, it should be treated promptly to avoid development of further complications. Dogs who are prone to allergies should also be checked every year.
The underlying cause of otitis externa will determine the the prognosis of surgical treatment. Total ablation of the ear canal is a very successful procedure, however problems may recur if there is no control of underlying diseases or allergies. There is a much lower success rate for dogs who receive a lateral ear canal resection, especially when the ear canal is severely diseased.