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Taping: No Gooey Mess

Who, among those of us who have had some ear taping experience, won’t admit that it’s not only a pain for us, but worse, usually a pain for the dog. Ear support “racks” get caught on everything and more than once I’ve seen a puppy fall and twist it’s neck severely when the tips of a rack get stuck in the ground. ‘Coning’, the method that completely encloses the ear over a soft cylindrical wad of cotton or a tampon, not only causes the pup much irritation (how would you like to have something stuffed into your ears and then taped firmly in place?) but because the ear is enclosed, they get a good case of the gooeys! (the gooeys is when the ears start to smell and when you take the tape off, there’s that awful gray goo!) The method outlined below was devised by Dr. Liscomb in Southern California. This method leaves the inside of the ear open to the air so it doesn’t get the gooeys. I’ve made a couple changes, basically just using sewing stays and hair curlers (or plastic tampon dispensers) instead of PVC pipe. Here are the instructions. Hope they help both you and your puppy.

You will need:

1. A length of 1/2″ fabric stay material found in a yardage store. Cut these long enough to reach from the top of the “bump” (Figure 1) of the ear to just past the ear tip.
2. Johnson & Johnson’s “Zonas” adhesive tape, 1 1/2″ wide roll and an inch wide roll. You’ll probably find this at a hospital supply although some drug stores carry it.
3. Skin Bond or Benzoin Compound. Don’t get the tincture of benzoin as it’s not as sticky. I like the benzoin because it’s also somewhat antiseptic. You’ll find these at your pharmacy.
4. Q-Tips
5. bandage scissors
6. BFI powder or equivalent (antibiotic powder)
7. alcohol
8. cotton balls
9. Plastic applicators from the Kotex Super Size tampons or plastic hair rollers (2/3 or 1/2″ wide) cut about 1 1/4″ long. (A knife heated on the stove works well on the curlers. Scissors will cut the tampon applicators). If using the tampon applicators, use only the fattest part, the one the plunger fits inside.

A. After you’ve cut the curlers, use your scissors to smooth any rough edges from the cut ends. This won’t be necessary in the case of the tampon applicator. Take the wide tape and cover the plastic cylinder completely, tucking the excess at the ends inside. Set aside.

B. Cut 2 pieces of the 1″ tape that protrude about 1/4″ past the stay material you’ve already cut. You will notice that the stay has a slight curve. You want the inside of the curve to press against the inside of the ear. Lay one piece of tape down sticky side up. Center the stay on the tape with the convex side against the tape. Take the next piece of tape and lay it on top of the stay, sticky side up making a “sandwich” of tape, stay, tape. Repeat with the second piece of tape and set aside.

C. Next cut 2 pieces of 1″ tape long enough to roll once around the roller and extend approximately 9 inches beyond. Do this to both rollers and set aside.

D. Prepare The Ears

Clean the ears well with alcohol and dry thoroughly. Next, using a couple Q-Tips, paint the ear with the benzoin compound or the Skin Bond. Cover the inside of the ear from the “bump” to the tip. The outside of the ear to the tip and pay particular attention to the outside of the base. Allow to dry until tacky, about 2-3 minutes.

E. Next take one of the stays and set it into the inside of the ear just resting on the “bump”. Smooth and apply pressure until stuck firmly.

F. Shake a small amount of the BFI powder in the little fold at the base of the ear on top of the head. This will help prevent the “gooies” that usually start here.

G. Take the curler with the long tape attached and set the base just above the “bump” with the long tape pointing in towards the center of the head. It is important to keep tension on the ear at this point. You want the base pulled out from the head so you can tape it properly in order for it to stand. Wrap in the direction of the small ear fold at base of ear. Wrap snug but not too tight.

H. From the 1″ tape cut a 9″, a 6″ and a 4″ (approximately) long piece. Wrap the 9″ piece overlapping the base of the curler, just below the first wrap, making sure to keep the tension on the ear during this procedure. The 6″ piece goes around the ear in the middle of the ear and the 4″ wraps the very tip.

I. Repeat the procedure on the other ear. For the first couple tapings after cropping (that is, after the incisions have healed, sutures are removed and the rack is o ff) it’s a good idea to put a brace between the ears across the top of the head.


Cut a piece of “stay” material wide enough to span between the ears without rubbing the ears themselves, usually about 3 to 4″. Cut a piece of 1″ tape long enough to reach from one ear to the other, circle the ear, return to the first ear, circle it, and wrap about halfway back to the other ear.

Ears should be held erect, and allowed to turn into a naturally held position, usually leaning slightly out from the side of the head. You’ll need a helper here to hold the ears while you tape. (You need a helper throughout the entire procedure, for that matter!) Start taping at the front of one ear, span to the other, circle it around the back of this ear, to the front span then insert the stay and sandwich it between the two pieces of tape. Continue the tape around the second ear and back across the front. Be very careful not to twist or turn the ears out of their natural resting position. Cut a short (about 2″) piece of 1″ tape and wrap around the span between the ears a couple times so the stay will remain in place. You’re done! Leave ears taped about a week, then take tape off and allow ears to rest for a day. Repeat until the ears are standing.

devised courtesy of Dr. Liscomb, USA