dog ear bleeding

Dog Ear Bleeding: Cause, Symptoms, and Treatment

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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What Does it Mean When a Dog’s Ear Bleeds?

Dog Ear Bleeding: Cause, Symptoms, and Treatment

Dog ear is bleeding could be a sign of excessive scratching of the ear. This ear scratching can be triggered by an aural hematoma, ear infections, ear mites, inflammation of the ear canal, or other ear problems and lesions.

Is It Normal for a Dog’s Ear to Bleed?

No, dog ear bleeding is not normal.

A bleeding ear or the presence of dried blood on the ear flap is a sign of a larger underlying issue. If your dog is has ear bleeding, it is advisable to seek veterinary attention.

What Causes Dog Ear Bleeding?

There are several possible causes of dog ear bleeding:

  • Inflammation. Inflammation is the swelling of the inner ear canal, and this can be painful or uncomfortable for dogs. When a dog’s ear is in pain, they tend to paw at it and shake its head, which can cause trauma. Inflammation is often a symptom of an underlying cause of ear irritation.
  • Infections. Bacterial, viral, and yeast infections can trigger ear scratching followed by dog ear bleeding. Some dog breeds are more prone to ear infections than others. For example, Cocker Spaniels and Beagles have large, floppy ears that are more likely to develop an ear infection.
  • Parasites. Ear mites, fleas, and mange are both known to irritate a dog’s ear. If the infestation is severe enough, it can cause bleeding, among other problems.
  • Obstruction. If a foreign object gets lodged in the inner, deeper part of the ear, a dog will try to remove it with violent head shaking and scratching. Both of which can cause hematomas or open wounds. If the foreign body is left in there long enough, it can cause dog ear infections that may lead to deafness.
  • Hematoma. These result from trauma to a dog’s ear flap or ear tip. A dog ear hematoma occurs when blood vessels in the ear are ruptured, letting loose blood into the tissue of the ear and creating a blood blister. If left untreated, it will likely go away on its own. However, this is very uncomfortable for dogs and can take up to six weeks to complete the healing process.
  • Trauma: Trauma can come from many things. Scratching, playing, impacts, and insect bites can all be directly responsible for trauma. Trauma also occurs in the ears if the dog shakes its head too hard and too often. This causes the ear flaps to smash against the dog’s head and can result in hematomas.
  • Scratching. Scratching is often times the dog’s attempt to soothe itself. If a dog scratches constantly at its ear, it may be suffering from trauma, infection, infestation, or excessive wax buildup. In simpler words, any ear condition causing excessive scratching can result in dog ear bleeding.
  • Ear Tumors & Polyps. Benign and malignant growths inside the ear (tumors and polyps) are also possible triggers of dog ear bleeding. These are severe underlying causes and require a more aggressive treatment approach.
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What are the Symptoms of Dog Ear Bleeding?

The symptoms of dog ear bleeding are:

  • Dark Brown or Red Ear Wax. Sometimes a sign of blood in the ear wax dark brown or red ear wax can be a sign your dog has an eardrum injury or a middle ear infection.
  • Dried Blood. Dried blood is a sign the dog was once bleeding. This should be monitored closely, and the dog should be taken to the vet if there is a lot of blood.
  • Scabs. Scabs are dried blood that has clotted to protect the wound from infection. If you notice your dog has scabs on its ears, it may have open wounds as well. These should be examined by a DVM to ensure the dog’s safety.

Should I Take My Dog to the Vet if His Ear is Bleeding?

Yes, you should take your dog to the vet if its ear is bleeding. Although the most common causes of dog ear bleeding are not serious, some underlying problems require more immediate attention.

How does the Vet Diagnose Ear Bleeding in Dogs?

Dog Ear Bleeding: Cause, Symptoms, and Treatment

To diagnose the underlying cause of dog ear bleeding, the vet will perform the following tests:

  • Ear Examination. A thorough ear examination conducted by a veterinarian can reveal a lot about your pet’s health. These should be done regularly but can be done in the case of bleeding. During an exam, the vet will use an otoscope to examine the inner ear canal, middle ear, and eardrum, as well as the outer ear.
  • Visual Assessment. Some ear problems can be seen clearly just by looking at the ear. A vet may know right away the cause of your dog’s ear problems from a quick look and be able to treat it from there.
  • X-rays. X-rays can be performed to get a look at the inner ear. This allows vets to see if there is an obstruction or inflammation inside the pet’s ears.

What is the Treatment for Dog Ear Bleeding?

The treatment for dog ear bleeding depends on the underlying cause. Here are some examples of the most common treatment options:

  • Apply pressure and stop the bleeding
  • Topical treatments
  • Removal of the foreign object
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Anti-itch medication
  • Ear cleaning
  • Antiseptics and antibacterial
  • Antibiotics (ear drops and oral).

What Is the Best Way to Stop a Dog’s Ear from Bleeding?

The best way to stop bleeding in a pet’s ear is to get a clean towel or gauze and flip the dog’s ear to the top of its head and apply pressure to the area. Just like in humans, firm pressure can assist in clotting the blood, so the wound stops bleeding sooner.

Other home remedies include antiseptics, topical ointments, and placing a bandage on the ear. If using a bandage on the dog’s ear and wrapping it around its head, leave free space of about two fingers between the bandage and the dog’s head.