The Good Dog has an ear problem. We've seen lots of head shaking and pawing at his right ear. Koko is quite sensitive about his ears and wouldn't let the vet get a good look last week. We've been putting solution in his ears because sometimes a dog will shake his head hard enough to expel whatever is causing the problem. That method wasn't successful, so at 8:30 Saturday morning I took him back to the vet for a little sedation and half an hour of serious ear flushing.
I picked him up just before one. He was moving slowly; was not allowed to eat until this evening; and will take steroids for a few days. Wax had collected around hair growing deep inside his ears, and it probably felt to him like constant tickling. The techs flushed both ears long enough to clear out at least 90% of the gunk. (Because of the structure of dogs' ears, which take an abrupt turn a few inches in, there's no way to verify exactly what was there or is now gone.)
Because the Good Dog's been licking his paws lately, the vet says he has allergies, too. The steroids will address the allergies and cut down on any remaining tickling or itching in his ears. The goal is that after a few days he'll either be all better or he'll have forgotten to scratch.
All of this began with a microscopic exam to find out whether he had an ear infection. There was no indication of one.
This morning, after a groggy day yesterday, Koko's back in fine fettle. The squirrels better be on the lookout. Day before yesterday, he had to see them to know they were there. Not any more. His hearing's acute, and he's ready to play chase.