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Mack's Ear Infection Takes a Scary Turn

Mission Animal Hospital treats many ear infections each year, but Mack’s was one of the worst.

This seven-year-old pitbull has struggled with severe ear infections for years. His parents, Dylan and Megan, have done everything they could to help treat them – Mack has been treated with oral medications, topical solutions and ointments, and injections, but the infections seem to always return. And this time, it took a turn for the worse.

For Dylan and Megan, Mack is their baby–and boy does he know it. He’s sweet and goofy and loves to snuggle. He’s been part of Megan and Dylan’s family since he was a puppy. He was the runt of his litter, and they knew immediately that he was the one for them. Since he came home with them, Mack has become Dylan’s best friend and Megan’s emotional support.

“We are so happy we got him. He’s the best dog we have ever met. We love him more than words can say.”

But despite all the love and care that Megan and Dylan have provided Mack, his ear infections remained persistent, ultimately causing a condition called otitis externa and otitis media.

Otitis externa is an inflammation of the ear canal. Because dogs’ ear canals are L-shaped, fluid does not drain easily from canal openings. Additionally, the lining of the ear can become inflamed and thickened, blocking air and fluid flow in and out of the canal. Animals with otitis externa can also develop otitis media (middle ear inflammation) leading to fluid build-up behind the eardrum, causing pressure and pain.

The chronic otitis externa eventually caused Mack’s ear canal to begin to close, trapping infection inside and leading to otitis media. His ear was draining fluid and pus, and poor Mack was shaking and scratching his head regularly in an attempt to relieve the discomfort.

After a couple of weeks, the infection worsened, and built up in a large fluid-filled pocket (or abscess) on the side of Mack’s face. Dylan and Megan were worried about their beloved pup and brought him into Mission’s Urgent Care services to have him evaluated.

Because of Mission Animal Hospitals commitment to accessible care, Dylan and Megan were able to opt for surgery to permanently fix Mack's chronically infected ear and abscess. Leaving this untreated could have led it to rupture of the abscess or even systemic infection, which would be painful and dangerous for Mack.

Mission Animal Hospital’s Advanced Surgery Practice performed a special surgery called a total ear canal ablation and bulla osteotomy (TECA-BO). This surgery removes the diseased tissue of the ear canal and opens the middle ear to allow for drainage. This procedure aims for resolution of the infection and pain, and therefore, alleviates the need for ongoing medical treatment.

In addition to addressing the ear canal, the abscess on Mack’s face was opened and flushed clean. A temporary drain was placed to allow fluid to continue to pass (instead of being trapped) during recovery.

Advanced surgeries like these can be expensive, and far outside the budget for many families. Mission’s accessible care made this surgery possible for Mack and his family. With our donor-subsidized Mission Program, and a payment plan, Dylan and Megan were able to get Mac a surgery and a permanent solution that otherwise wouldn’t have been an option.

“The way the staff took care of Mack and loved him, I will only trust Mission Animal Hospital with any future problems that we will ever have with our animals. The staff truly care for and love our pets as if they are their own. Mack has never gotten so much love and so many compliments.”

Over the next few weeks, Mack’s infection resolved and the surgical site healed. For the first time in years, Mack’s ear was free of infection and comfortable.

“He is a soldier and has been fighting pain and discomfort for so long, yet still tries to play and make us smile and laugh. It’s extremely nice to know and see that he’s not in any pain, and he feels like himself again. It brings tears to my eyes to know he is happy and can fully enjoy life now,” Megan said about Mack’s healing.


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