dog ear hematoma

Dog Ear Hematoma: What You Need to Know?

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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What Is Dog Ear Hematoma?

Dog Ear Hematoma: What You Need to Know?

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, a dog ear hematoma or “ an aural hematoma is a collection of blood, either fresh or clotted, within the pinna (ear flap).”

A hematoma is a blood blister that forms under the skin. Hematoma formation is a result of severe irritation, trauma, or infection to the inside of the ear flap and can require hematoma surgery to remove.

What Does a Hematoma Look Like on a Dog?

A dog ear hematoma will appear as a swollen lump under the skin. It is often accompanied by swelling, firmness of the area, warmness to the touch, and signs of discomfort.

Can a Dog Ear Hematoma Heal on Its Own?

Yes, a dog ear hematoma can heal on its own.

However, this is not advisable because it could take weeks for it to heal. Plus, the ear hematomas are very painful. When a dog ear hematoma heals on its own, it separates into serum and a clot and will gradually be absorbed over the next 2-6 weeks.

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What Causes a Dog’s Ear Hematoma?

There are several possible causes of dog ear hematoma:

  • Infections. Ear infection leads to inflammation which leads to symptoms of inflammation, such as head shaking and excessive scratching. These symptoms of infection and inflammation can lead to ear injury and hematomas. Ear mite infections can be included in this group as well.
  • Trauma. This is more common in dog breeds with floppy ears, like cocker spaniels and beagles. When a dog has incurred an ear injury from violent head shaking or bite wounds, for example, they are more likely to develop a hematoma. This trauma can rupture the small blood vessels inside the ear, thus causing a hematoma.
  • Allergies. Pets prone to skin allergies are more likely to develop a hematoma for the same or similar reasons as infections. A hematoma is a result of the symptoms (excessive scratching or head shaking) of allergies and infection.
  • Inflammatory Ears Conditions. When a dog’s ear is irritated and inflamed, it can result in violent head shaking as a symptom.
  • Blood Clotting Disorders. Disorders that cause blood clots can also cause hematomas. When blood cannot clot properly, it results in bleeding.
  • Foreign Bodies. If a foreign object, like a plant seed or twig, gets into the ear, it can cause irritation and head shaking, which can result in aural hematomas.

What Are the Symptoms of a Dog Ear Hematoma?

Dog Ear Hematoma: What You Need to Know?

Here are some telltale signs indicating a dog ear hematoma:

  • Redness. Redness is often accompanied by pain and swelling. If you notice these signs, it is probably a good idea to examine your dog for a hematoma.
  • Head-Shaking. Head shaking is a general sign of ear problems but can be a sign of a hematoma.
  • Scratching. Ear scratching can cause trauma if it is done often and severe enough.
  • Odor. Odors are common signs of several underlying conditions related to the ear. Infections can cause dogs to shake their heads and scratch at their ears.
  • Head Tilting. Tilting the head to the side of the infected ear can also result in imbalance and walking in circles. If you notice your dog exhibiting these symptoms, see a DVM immediately.

What Can I Do for My Dogs Ear Hematoma?

If your dog has an ear hematoma, you need to see a vet. There are two possible treatment options – surgical treatment and treatment with medications.

Surgical treatment is the golden standard and involves making a small incision to drain the blood blister. Then, the incision is closed with sutures that are removed 10 to 14 days after the surgery. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. During the postoperative period, the dog must wear an Elizabethan collar and, if necessary, use pain medications.

The medical treatment includes draining the blood via a teat cannula (which is placed and left for a specific timeframe). Since the pocket usually refills with blood once the cannula is removed, some vets practice administering steroid medications inside the pocket. This treatment is more likely to work for a small hematoma.

To determine the underlying cause, the vet may suggest tests such as cytology, blood work, and allergy testing.

What Happens if You Leave a Dog Ear Hematoma Untreated?

Leaving a dog ear hematoma untreated can have several consequences:

  • Cauliflower ear, or buildup of excessive scar tissue
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Distorted appearance of the ear
  • Blocked ear canal

How Long Does a Hematoma Last in a Dog’s Ear?

If a hematoma is left untreated, it can take up to 6 weeks to go away on its own.

In dogs with larger ears, it may take longer to dissipate as the hematoma may be larger than in dogs with smaller ears.

The best thing to do is act preventatively to ensure a hematoma does not form in the first place, and if you notice your dog showing symptoms of a hematoma, it is important to get them in to see a vet as soon as possible to have it examined.