Most pets will go home in 3–7 days depending on their comfort.
Restrictions following surgery are usually:
- An E-collar (Cone shaped) to prevent scratching the ear incision.
- Eye drops for two weeks if the blink response is not normal.
- Oral pain medications.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed if a severe infection is present.
- Stitches will be removed 10–14 days after surgery (if present).
- Medical management of underlying diseases, such as allergies or poor thyroid function, will need to be continued for life to prevent clinical signs from recurring.
Postoperative complications can include:
- Facial nerve damage; resulting in an abnormal or absent blink in the eye on the side of the surgery. This complication occurs in 25–50% of dogs, and in 10–15% the damage is permanent.
- Head tilt (Figure 7), because of the loss of balance.
- Drainage from the surgical site months to years after surgery may occur if some infection or secretory tissues remain after the initial surgery.
Since most pets with severe otitis externa have a poor hearing before surgeries, owners often do not notice much difference in their dog’s hearing ability after surgery.
Owners of specific breeds of dogs, such as Cocker spaniels, should be prepared for ear problems. These dogs should have their ears checked once or twice a year, and any ear infections should be treated promptly to prevent inflammation and thickening of the canal. Any dogs prone to skin or food allergies should also be checked annually.
The prognosis for surgical treatment of otitis externa and media depends on the underlying cause of the disease. Total ear canal ablation with bulla osteotomy is successful in resolving the drainage and discomfort from the ear in 90–95% of dogs, but problems can recur if underlying allergies or disease are not controlled. Long term success rates are much lower when lateral ear canal resections are performed on animals that have severely diseased ear canals.