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Easy Ear Brace · The Perfect Crop · Q&A
The most common ear crop styles for the American Bully are the Battle Crop, the Short Crop, and the Show Crop. Cropping the ears is optional, but if you choose to crop your American Bully's ears, we recommend the Short Crop.
Cropping ears correctly requires skill and expertise. When choosing a veterinarian to perform ear cropping, ask for examples of previous work, or references, and interview the veterinarian rigorously. Be sure the veterinarian you select has breed-specific experience. Ear cropping is definitely something you do not want to have done improperly, hastily, haphazardly, or without precision, and extreme attention to detail. Never allow anyone unlicensed or inexperienced to practice on your dog!
When done properly, and professionally, ear cropping does not typically adversely affect the dog. Our dogs don't skip a beat after having their ears cropped. Again, extreme attention to detail is the key for successful ear cropping surgery, and a speedy, pain-free recovery.
The Perfect American Bully Ear Crop
This is the story of a perfect "short crop" on our dog, Trip.
Once upon a time ...
Trip was delivered to the veterinarian early in the morning, following a 12-hour period during which he was not allowed to eat anything. The fasting period was necessary in case he became sick during anesthesia.
During the ear cropping procedure, the veterinarian constructed an apparatus of wire and tape and affixed it to the ears. The ear-bracing apparatus was crucial for the first week or two in holding the ears in an upward position while the incisions healed.
Post-op, the veterinarian administered injections of anti-inflammatory and anti-itch medications, and prescribed antibiotic tablets. The anti-inflammatory helped reduce swelling while the anti-itch relieved itching, reducing the dog's desire to scratch the ears.
While he was recovering, I gave Trip a bone to chew as a distraction from any discomfort. However, he didn't appear to be uncomfortable.
The incisions and sutures were primarily on the inside of the ear, with the skin from the outer-ear wrapped around the outer-edge of the ear cartilage. This technique reduced the appearance of scars and helped keep the ears standing upright.
Beginning the second day, I cleaned the incision area with Bactine, and applied hydrocortisone cream around, but not directly on, the incision twice daily. This reduced the occurrence of itching and swelling. Additionally, wound ointment (or triple-antibiotic ointment) was applied to the incision once daily to accelerate healing. Every twelve hours for the first week I gave Trip a low-dose, buffered (baby) aspirin.
A follow-up examination by the veterinarian was conducted one week after the surgery. It was determined at that time that the ear-bracing apparatus was no longer necessary, as the ears were standing upright on their own.
Two-weeks following surgery, the veterinarian conducted a final examination and removed the sutures from the incisions.
A month after the ear cropping procedure, the ears were healed quite nicely. Due to the fine-guage sutures, the detailed, precision work by the veterinarian, and the careful post-op treatment by me, the incisions and suture-marks are virtually invisible.
Question: Why crop the ears?
Answer: Ear cropping is mostly cosmetic, but may have health benefits. For example, increased airflow to the ear canal may decrease chances for fungal and bacterial ear infections. It is also indicative of the breed, and has been done since pre-history. However, it IS a surgical procedure, which inherently has risks, and should ALWAYS be performed by a licensed professional.
Question: How long does recovery take?
Answer: This can vary. Typically, sutures are removed two or three weeks after surgery. Unless the ears become injured somehow, after three or four weeks, the ears should be healed well.
Question: How old should a dog be before having ears cropped?
Answer: We recommend cropping the ears when puppies are 8-16 weeks of age. The older the dog, the more developed the ear cartilage becomes, and the more difficult the procedure can be for the dog. However, if the puppy is too young, ear bracing may be required for a longer period because the cartilage may not be developed enough.
Question: How much does ear cropping cost?
Answer: The price can vary dramatically from one veterinarian or geographical location to another. It is best to compare prices locally.
Question: How can I make my bully's ears stand?
Answer: If you want the ears to stand upright, it is recommended to brace them immediately following the ear cropping procedure, and to crop the ears before the puppy's ear cartilage is fully developed. If the cartilage is already fully developed, or the dog is older, corrective surgery may be the only solution.
Question: What aftercare do you recommend following the ear crop procedure?
Answer: Antibiotic medication, such as Cephalexin, should be administered for at least ten days following the ear crop surgery. The ears should be braced immediately, unless they stand upright naturally. It is important to take every step to ensure the dog does not scratch the ears or damage the sutures during the healing process. Administer 1 low-dose aspirin every 12 hours for two-four weeks. This reduces pain, inflammation, and itching. Beginning on day two, at least every 6-12 hours, clean the ears and sutures with Bactine spray. This reduces pain and itching, and helps prevent infection. After cleaning with Bactine, apply 1% hydrocortisone cream (or ointment) around the suture area. Next, apply triple-antibiotic ointment to the sutures and incisions. If you notice the dog is frequently trying to scratch the ears, spray the incisions with Bactine and apply hydrocortisone. Continue with this aftercare until after the sutures are removed, and the incisions are healed. These steps will speed the healing process and reduce the appearance of scars.