dog ear hematoma

Dog Ear Hematoma: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Should you observe your dog scratching excessively or shaking its head, and one or both of its flaps seem swollen, appearing like a balloon, it is likely suffering from a dog ear hematoma.

While not life-threatening, this condition can cause discomfort and require timely intervention to prevent complications.

In this article, we study ear hematomas in dogs, their causes, symptoms, and the various treatment options available. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better equipped to recognize the signs, prevent hematomas and provide your furry friend with the care it needs to bounce back to its happy, healthy self. So let us understand more about developing ear hematomas in dogs here.

What is Dog Ear Hematoma? What Are Its Signs and Symptoms?

Canine ear hematomas, also known as aural hematoma or cauliflower ear, is a condition that occurs when there is a collection of blood or fluid between the skin and cartilage of a dog’s flap (pinna). This results in the ear flap becoming swollen, thickened, often having a balloon-like appearance. The condition is usually caused by ear mites, skin issues, or ear infections. 

The most common cause of a dog’s ear canal hematoma is vigorous head shaking or head tilting, which can happen due to ear infections, mites, skin allergies, ear problems, bite wound, foreign body lodged in the ear, or any irritation that prompts the dogs to scratch at its ear intensely. Breeds like Basset hounds are prone to this condition.

When the dogs shakes its head forcefully, the blood vessels in the ear can rupture, leading to aural hematomas due to the accumulation of blood or fluid filled pocket. The signs and symptoms of a dogs ear canal hematoma are usually quite apparent and may include:

  • Swelling: The affected ear will appear noticeably swollen due to fluid between ear cartilage, and the swelling can vary in size depending on the severity of the hematoma.
  • Thickening: The ear flap may feel thicker or more distended compared to the unaffected ear. This is due to blood clots.
  •  Warmth and pain: Like ear infections, the ear may feel warm to the touch and be sensitive or painful for the dogs when touched.
  •  Head-Shaking and Dog Excessively Scratching: Dogs with ear hematomas blood clots often exhibit increased head shaking, tilting head sideways, or scratching at their ears due to discomfort.
  •  Ear Drooping: In some cases, the ear flap may droop or hang down due to the accumulation of fluid and underlying infections. This results in floppy ears.
  •  Redness or bruising: The skin of the affected ear may show signs of redness or bruising due to the trapped blood.

Also Read: Best Dog Ear Cleaner

Dog Ear Hematoma Treatment – How Do You Treat Ear Hematomas in Dogs?

Treating a hematoma on a dog’s ear typically involves draining the accumulated blood or fluid and addressing the cause to prevent recurrence.

It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and to determine the most suitable course of treatment for underlying ear infections and hematomas in dogs and your dog’s specific condition. Here’s a general overview of how an ear hematoma is treated:

Veterinary Examination

 The first step is to take your dogs to a veterinarian for a thorough examination. The vet will assess the hematoma’s severity, check for any underlying infections or other issues, and determine the best treatment option for ear hematomas in dogs.

Draining the Hematoma

 To relieve pressure and promote healing, the veterinarian will likely drain the fluid from the hematoma using a small incision. This is one of the conventional treatments.

 This procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia to ensure your dog’s comfort during the process. The vet may use a syringe or make a small incision in the localized mass to remove the accumulated fluid from the blood blister. They may also perform a needle aspiration.

Compression Bandaging

 After draining the hematoma, the vet may apply a compression bandage to the ear. This bandage helps reduce further swelling and encourages the ear to heal properly. The bandage must be properly secured around the whole ear flap but not too tight to avoid cutting off blood flow.

Medication

 Depending on the severity of the hematoma and the cause, the veterinarian may prescribe medication to manage pain and inflammation. Antibiotics might be prescribed if an ear infection is present.

E-Collar (Cone)

To prevent the dog from scratching or shaking its head, which can aggravate the hematoma, the vet may recommend that pet parents place an e-collar (also known as a cone or Elizabethan collar) over their pet’s head during the healing process until it eventually reabsorbs.

Follow-Up Care and Prevention

 Follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding wound care, medication administration, and bandage changes. Attend any follow-up appointments to ensure the hematoma is healing properly and to address any concerns.

Addressing the cause of the hematoma (ear mites, infections, etc.) is essential to preventing its recurrence. If an ear infection, allergies, or other issues are contributing to the hematoma, your vet will devise a treatment plan to manage larger hematomas and resolve these problems to prevent blood filling it back.

Is Dog Ear Hematoma an Emergency? How Urgent Is a Dog Ear Hematoma?

While an ear hematoma in dogs is not a life-threatening emergency, it does require prompt veterinary attention. 

The condition can be painful and uncomfortable for the dog, and without proper treatment, it can lead to complications and prolonged discomfort. Delaying treatment may result in the same hematoma forming and becoming more extensive and harder to manage, potentially leading to disfigurement of the ear. It can cause chronic ear infections too or rupture of blood vessel, further injury, and other obvious trauma.

Why Early Intervention is a Must to save The Ear Flap

Early intervention in treating cauliflower ear to prevent ear hematomas ensures a faster and more successful recovery for your canine companion, minimizing their discomfort and the risk of complications. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact your vet and seek treatment when you suspect an aural hematoma to provide your pet with the necessary care and attention promptly.

Also Read- Dog Allergy Testing

Will a Dog Ear Hematoma Heal on Its Own?

Mild Cases of Aural Hematoma

Mild cases or smaller hematomas do resolve on their own as the fluid is slowly reabsorbed by scar tissue. However, it depends on the underlying reason.

In some severe cases, however, a small and less severe dog cauliflower ear might resolve on its own over time, but it’s not a reliable or recommended approach. Without proper treatment, aural hematomas can take a long time to heal, result in scar tissue on the skin, and there’s a high chance that it will reoccur or lead to complications.

Dog Ear Hematoma Untreated Complications

Note that untreated ear hematomas can be quite uncomfortable for the dog. The swelling and pressure can cause pain and irritation, leading to increased scratching ears, head shaking, and discomfort. This, in turn, may exacerbate the underlying condition, making it more challenging for ears to heal naturally.

Draining the Ear Hematomas

To do further damage and ensure a swift and successful recovery, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care for a dog’s ear hematoma.

Your veterinarian can drain the accumulated fluid from the ear using a syringe or other appropriate methods, relieving pressure and discomfort. They may also address the cause of the aural hematoma, such as an ear infection, foreign bodies, or allergies, to prevent a recurrence of dog’s hematoma.

Home Treatments and Medication

In some cases, your vet might recommend using an e-collar (cone) to prevent the dog from excessive scratching or shaking their head excessively during the healing process.

Depending on the severity of the hematoma and the underlying cause, they may also prescribe medication or suggest topical treatments to aid in the healing process to prevent scar tissue.

How Long Can You Leave a Hematoma on a Dog’s Ear?

It is not advisable to leave an aural hematoma on a dog’s ear untreated for an extended period. Without proper treatment, a hematoma can persist for weeks to months, causing discomfort and potential complications.

The blood vessels and ear canal may rupture. The accumulated fluid can lead to the ear flap becoming permanently disfigured, and the underlying cause aural hematomas, such as an ear infection, may worsen over time.

Early intervention is crucial to preventing these issues. Veterinary care, including draining the hematoma and addressing any underlying problems, should be sought as soon as possible. 

Timely treatment ensures a faster recovery for your dog and reduces the risk of long-term consequences like blood vessels rupture. If you suspect your dog has a hematoma, contact your veterinarian promptly to provide the necessary care and attention.

Is Surgery Necessary for Dog Ear Hematoma? How Much Does Ear Hematoma Surgery Cost for Dogs?

Surgery is one of the treatment options for dog ear hematomas, especially for larger or more severe hematomas that are unlikely to heal on their own. Surgical drainage helps remove the accumulated blood or fluid more effectively and promotes faster healing.

Dog Ear Hematoma Surgery Cost

The cost of hematoma surgery for dogs can vary depending on factors such as the location, the severity of the hematoma, the veterinarian’s experience, and the specific surgical approach used. 

On average, the cost can range from $300 to $1,500 or more. It’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to get an accurate estimate based on your dog’s individual needs and circumstances. Pet insurance may help offset some of the expenses associated with the procedure.

Can a Dog Ear Hematoma Rupture?

Yes, canine hematomas can rupture if left untreated or if the pressure inside the dog’s ear flap becomes too high. When a hematoma ruptures, the accumulated fluid may leak out the ears, leading to further discomfort and trauma for the dog.

 It’s essential to seek veterinary attention promptly to drain the hematoma and prevent complications such as rupture, which can delay the healing process and potentially lead to infection.

FAQs

How can I treat my dog’s ear hematoma at home?

Treating a dog’s ear hematoma at home is not recommended. Proper diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian are essential to ensuring safe and effective care for your pet. Attempting to treat the dog shaking the hematoma at home may lead to complications and delay healing.

Can a dog ear hematoma rupture? Can a dog ear hematoma heal on its own?

Yes, ear hematoma in dogs can rupture if left untreated or if the pressure inside the ear flap becomes too high. 

While some small hematomas may appear to heal on their own, this is not a reliable or recommended approach. Seeking veterinary care is crucial for draining the hematoma until it is completely healed and addressing the underlying cause for a faster and more successful recovery.

How long does it take for a dog’s ear hematoma to heal?

The healing time for a dog’s ear hematoma can vary depending on the size, severity, and treatment approach. 

With proper veterinary care, including draining the hematoma and addressing underlying issues, it typically takes around 1 to 3 weeks for the ear to heal. However, larger or more complicated hematomas may take longer to fully resolve.

Conclusion

Being informed about dog ear hematomas empowers us as responsible pet owners to recognize the signs early and seek prompt veterinary attention. 

With timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, such as draining the hematoma and addressing underlying causes, our beloved canine companions can experience a faster and more comfortable recovery. Remember, proactive care and attention are vital in ensuring our furry friends’ well-being and a life filled with joy and health.

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