Unfortunately for them, Shar-Pei dogs have a lot of problems. If it is not their eyes, then it is their skin, or both. If none of these, you can be sure that ear trouble will arrive one day. They have tiny ear-flaps, and much of the inside of the ear is exposed as a consequence. Not unlike us humans in some respects, though of course they cannot wash them, poke fingers into them, or clean them out properly. They also run through undergrowth, rub their heads in grass, and jump into muddy ponds and streams, none of which is conducive to good ear health. As a considerate owner, you have to check their ears on a regular basis, and be prepared to clean out the unpleasant residue that sometimes builds up. When all else fails, a trip to the Vet normally results in a prescription of medicinal ear drops.
Ollie has had a few ear problems in the past. He had to have them cleaned by the nurse, and you could see him wincing as she dug deep. They sold us ear drops with a long nozzle that has to be inserted quite far into the tightest part of the ear. This is not a nice thing to do, especially when you can plainly see that it is hurting your dog. He has been free of this particular irritation for some time now, but spent many weeks enduring an annoying skin condition instead. I wrote about this in the post ‘Ollie’s Crop Circles.’ Just as that seemed to have cleared up completely, and the fur had grown back over the bald spots by the end of last week, he began to shake his head. All dogs shake their heads of course, but this was not the normal sort of occasional shake. This was intense, and carried on constantly, unless he was fast asleep.
A quick inspection of the ears showed them to be a little congested with a waxy substance, and we cleaned this out, deciding to apply some ear drops, in the same way we did it last year. It didn’t appear to help a great deal, and he continued to shake. By Wednesday, we could even hear him at night, constantly shaking as he lay on his bed. He had also ‘dropped’ one side of his head too, carrying one ear lower. A sure indication that he was feeling pain, were his constant attempts at getting attention, and rubbing his face and head around our legs. We continued with the drops, but by Thursday, one ear felt hot to touch, and was red and inflamed on inspection. An appointment was made with the Vet, for Friday afternoon.
I took him out for a walk earlier than usual, to make sure that we would be back in good time for the twelve-mile drive to Swaffham. We had left off the drops, so as not to inflame his ear further before the Vet examined him. When he saw me getting the bed that fits into the back of the car, he was beside himself with excitement, spinning in circles, and skidding on the stone tiles of the kitchen floor. He was no doubt anticipating going somewhere nice in the car, a different place to explore, and the chance to meet other dogs that he had never previously encountered. I felt very guilty, as he jumped into the vehicle enthusiastically. The Friday afternoon traffic was exacerbated by emergency roadworks on the A47, causing an unusual delay. We made it to the Vet with one minute to spare before the time of the appointment, and as he jumped out, I could see a definite look of disappointment on his wrinkly face.
Once inside, he became agitated; panting, and red around the mouth. He pressed hard into my legs, probably concerned that he would be abandoned there, to be pulled and prodded at will. He does behave well though, never venturing far from my side, and no muzzle has ever been required, so well does he tolerate the worst possible probings of the animal medics. The Vet produced an auroscope, which he pushed deep into Ollie’s ears in turn. He declared one to be free of blockage or problem, but could soon see that the other was a different story. There was a definite infection, together with an inflammation of the surrounding tissue, not helped by the constant shaking. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs were prescribed, with the Vet confident that it should clear up in about a week. I paid for the treatment, and Ollie couldn’t wait to get back into the car, relieved to be departing with me, and not staying overnight in a cage.
When we got home, he ate his dinner happily, and also took his tablets from Julie, with the promise of a biscuit treat for afterwards. He soon slowed down the head shaking, and as I type this, I can hear him snoring on his bed in the kitchen. Once again he trusted us, and we didn’t let him down.