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Brandy’s Ear – A Case Story

Brandy’s owners have had a number of foster dogs in their time. However, they were not wholly prepared for the impression Brandy was to stamp (or paw-print) on their lives when the charity, Lab Lifeline, got in touch with an emergency requirement, and he arrived at their home.

Three weeks later, when the news came that some prospective new adopters wanted to meet Brandy, his owners (in their own words): “…looked at one another and said, “No!”

Brandy was to stay firmly where he was, enriching the lives of his now forever family, owing to his affectionate temperament, his hilariously funny character and him being “The most lovable dog ever.”

Whilst Brandy’s happy-go-lucky personality means that he adores all people, other dogs and life generally, he wasn’t without his problems. The poor thing came with a terrible skin condition which his owners, along with veterinary assistance, have worked tirelessly to improve. He also came with a chronic and severe problem with his ear. Some form of irritation within the ear was impacting his day to day life and all of his favourite pastimes.

Brandy’s favourite things to do include eating and rushing out into the paddock to bark at nothing, his owners think it’s just to tell the world that he’s here and he’s happy! But the sheer irritation of his ear was putting a downer on life’s enjoyment (although being a typical Labrador, his appetite was never massively affected!).

With a number of topical treatments tried, that only alleviated the issue without solving it, it was obvious that further investigation was required. That was when Brandy came to see us at South Lincs Vets. The team took to his cheeky, lovable personality immediately, as did he to us. We gave him a full examination at our branch practice and it was decided that Brandy should come to the main hospital at Sutterton, where his files and history could still be easily accessed.

We anaesthetised Brandy so that, using our endoscope, we could take a far deeper look into his ear without causing discomfort. You can see from the photo below that we found a large mass obstructing the whole ear canal, much of which we were able to remove using our special diode laser equipment. Samples were sent to the lab for analysis and thankfully, the tumour was found to be benign. But there was an issue; the ear canal appeared to be thickened generally, something requiring further investigation.

CT scanning was the obvious next step, and fortunately we benefit from having this state of the art equipment on site. CT (or computed tomography) uses similar technology to X-rays, but multiple images allow us to build a three dimensional image of a patient’s insides. This enables an in-depth view of the finer structures of the body from all angles rather than the flat, two dimensional view obtained from traditional radiography. We confirmed that Brandy’s ear canal was indeed thickened and narrowed as a result. You can see from the CT image below just what we mean and this in itself was going to cause problems for Brandy. Fortunately his dedicated new owners wanted to solve the issue once and for all, so that Brandy could live a comfortable life. Surgery was planned for a total ear-canal ablation meaning that the ear-canal was to be removed. It would render Brandy deaf in this ear, a small price to pay to avoid a life of discomfort.

Brandy came back for this complex surgery a week or so later, taking it all in his stride. Being the model patient after the successful surgery, he was back up and barking within a short period of time. Brandy’s owners say that they: “…can not praise the team enough”

They feel that our team are “friendly and real animal lovers”. Comments like this mean a great deal to the team, and makes their hard work all worthwhile. Further, hearing that Brandy is back to his ‘barking’ mad, happy self, and to being his Dad’s shadow again, gives us a real sense of job satisfaction. Brandy’s owners describe the changes that they have seen in him since the procedure saying: “We can see that something has changed in him, he must have been in a great deal of discomfort. His face lights up even more than it did when he sees people and he looks healthier already. He’s even more of a lovable nuisance now!”

We wish Brandy all of the best in his new life and hope only to see him in the future for routine things like vaccinations!