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Ear Hematoma in Dogs: What it is and How it is Treated

Have you noticed that your pet's ear is swollen? It could be what is known as an ear hematoma in dogs. We will tell you what this problem consists of, what its possible causes are, and how it is treated.

how to treat ear hematoma in dogs

What is ear hematoma in dogs?

An ear hematoma is the result of inflammation of the ear flap due to a buildup of blood between the skin and cartilage of the animal's ear.

Initially, an ear hematoma is composed of liquid blood, as well as clots and serum. As time passes and it is not drained, the clots become organized and cause thickening and scar deformities in the ear flap.

If scratching continues, there is additional pressure on the hematoma with a risk of re-initiating the bleeding. Therefore, to prevent the potential consequences, such as permanent ear deformity, it is advisable to promptly treat this problem.

Causes of ear hematoma in dogs

One of the main causes of ear hematoma in dogs is them vigorously shaking their head. This constant and energetic movement can cause blood vessels in their ears to burst, filling their ear flap with blood.

The reason why a dog may shake its head a lot can be due to many factors, but one of them is canine otitis. Another relevant cause is itching caused by parasites or fungi.

In addition to this, there are other causes that can trigger ear hematoma in dogs:

  • Direct trauma.
  • Scratching can also cause rupture of auricular arterioles and venules.
  • Some hormonal diseases, such as Cushing's syndrome, can cause higher fragility in blood vessels and make them bleed with milder traumas that in other conditions would not cause bleeding.
  • Immunological issues.

Does ear hematoma occur in all dogs?

Ear hematoma in dogs is more common among those with long and floppy ears. Additionally, the problem usually appears unilaterally, meaning it is not common for it to occur simultaneously in both ears.

Furthermore, it should be noted that it is also more common in males, and the risks of ear hematoma increase with age due to capillary fragility.

Treatment of ear hematoma in dogs

When taking a dog with ear hematoma to the veterinary clinic, the professional will examine it to determine the main cause of head shaking. That is the underlying problem to be treated and will be addressed accordingly.

Regarding the ear hematoma itself, the ideal treatment is to drain the blood from the auricular pinna, although depending on the severity of the situation, more advanced intervention may be necessary.

However, in order to perform the drainage or establish the appropriate treatment to eliminate the inflammation, it is usually recommended to wait several days to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Specifically, treating the ear hematoma will not be enough to simply drain the contents with a needle and syringe. If that is all that is done, there could be a recurrence.

Therefore, the technique will involve making an incision through which the hematoma will be drained and a thorough cleaning of the auricular pinna and external auditory canal will be performed.

Next, to promote drainage through this incision in the days following the intervention and avoid its closure, a small portion of the edges of the wound will also be removed, so that they heal by secondary intention.

The sloughed skin covering the bruise will be held in place by stitches placed around the incision. With this action, irrigation problems and collapse of the main vessels of the ear will be avoided after performing the drainage.

Finally, the wound will be protected with a bandage and the dog will be wearing an Elizabethan collar, at least until the stitches are removed, in order to avoid injury and trauma.

Read also: Can You Clean Dog Ears With Peroxide

Consequences of hematoma in dogs

One of the main consequences of hematoma in dogs is an increase in ear temperature and inflammation. Additionally, if the dog continues to scratch the affected area persistently, the auricular venules may rupture, leading to wounds and bleeding.

Furthermore, some dogs may develop fever and lethargy.

If left untreated, the dog's ear flap may shrink and develop a cauliflower-like appearance, known as "cauliflower ear."