- Ear hematomas in dogs are very serious — Even mild cases should be treated right away, as they can get progressively worse and lead to permanent damage.
- They’re typically a secondary condition — An ear infection, irritation, foreign objects, or other underlying causes can lead to an aural hematoma.
- Surgery is the most common treatment — While mild ear hematoma dog symptoms may be treated non-surgically, typically hematomas require a surgical drain procedure from a veterinarian
Ear hematomas are a very common condition for dogs, but they can also be very serious. Also called aural hematomas, they are small, swollen, and fluid-filled bulges on the inside of the ear flap (or pinna). Pinnas have two layers of cartilage in the dog’s ear. When hematomas occur, blood builds up in a dog’s ear flap, which becomes the ear hematoma.
The fluid can build up on one part or the entire ear pinna. This can be caused by a lot of different things, like an ear infection or trauma to the ear. Depending on the severity of the hematoma, your pup may require surgical treatment. Without proper treatment, permanent ear damage can occur, so it’s important to get your dog treated right away.
The most obvious and common symptom is a bulge or swelling inside your dog’s ear flap. However, occasionally the fluid goes undetected by pet parents and can only be determined by a veterinarian during a physical exam.
In either case, other symptoms should be present that point toward the cause of the problem. These symptoms include:
Ear hematomas don’t happen on their own. Many different factors can affect what causes a canine aural hematoma. Dogs may develop an ear infection, have an allergic reaction, have a foreign body lodged in the ear canal, or sustain physical injury to the ear. Your pup may also have a chronic inflammatory condition that causes excessive scratching in the ear.
Parasites like ear mites can also play a role in dogs developing hematomas. Dogs who have blood clotting disorders are also at risk for aural hematomas. Dogs with floppy ears are also at higher risk.
When an ear hematoma results from one of these conditions, it’s because the blood vessels underneath the ear skin break and blood clots in the cartilage. Breaking can happen from the excessive scratching or shaking of the head that our pups do when they have another condition present that’s bothering their ear.
After you bring your pup in for a physical examination with your veterinarian, they can discuss treatment options for your pet’s ears. While some non-surgical options are available for very mild cases, aural hematoma surgery may be necessary for severe cases.
Surgical options are quick, efficient, and very successful at treating an ear hematoma. Below is what you can expect when your dog needs surgery to remove a hematoma:
- The blood is removed from the pinna – The veterinary surgeon makes two small incisions in the hematoma, and a drain tube is passed through and sutured to remove the blood and drainage.
- The blood in the ear is taken out – The vet will insert some small sutures, or stitches, that are passed completely through the ear flap.
- The pinna is stabilized – To prevent further damage, a bandage is put on the pinna against the head or supportively along the ear.
If the aural hematoma isn’t too severe, your vet’s medical advice may recommend alternatives to surgery. Oral steroids, antibiotics, or other anti-inflammatories may clear up a mild case of a small hematoma on a dog’s ear. Typically, this is a longer treatment process than surgery.
👉 It is very important your dog is seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible to treat an ear hematoma. This will prevent the condition from worsening and resulting in permanent damage like scar tissue.
Once your pup is home from surgery, they’ll need lots of extra TLC. It’s a good idea to get an E-collar from your veterinarian for your dog to wear. Your pup will be walking around with essentially an open wound for about three weeks as the sutures do their work to close up the hematoma.
E-collars will prevent your dog from scratching their ears and possibly removing their sutures too soon and causing further damage. Your dog will also need plenty of rest and should avoid highly stimulating playtimes or walks. In about three weeks after your pup’s surgery, they’ll come back to the vet to get their sutures removed.
Cost of treating ear hematomas in dogs
The cost of treating ear hematomas varies depending on the treatment your dog is getting. Your veterinarian’s fees, including their office and testing fees, are one consideration. Dogs who are prescribed steroids or other medication rather than surgical treatment will have a lower out-of-pocket cost.
The range of treating hematomas can vary anywhere from $300 – $2500, depending on the type of treatment and severity of the hematoma. The cost of anesthesia is typically what causes surgical options to be higher.
While pet parents hate to think about the worst-case scenarios regarding our furry friends, it’s important to prepare for rainy days. Investing in pet insurance can be a great decision dog owners will be grateful for later when pups are sick.
Preventing an ear hematoma can be tricky, as they are generally not a primary condition. The best way to avoid aural hematomas is to prevent your pup from getting ear infections or foreign bodies that can irritate the ear.
Pet parents can be proactive in keeping their pup’s ears clean and safe. Keep your pup groomed and their ears clean and dry. Check their bodies and ears for ticks after coming in from a long hike in the woods. Make sure your dog gets completely dry after baths, swims, or walks in the rain.
Aural hematomas are a surprise no pet parent wants to deal with. They can be very painful for your poor pup, and lead to serious problems if untreated. By getting your pup in at the first sign of an ear hematoma, they have the best chance of a speedy recovery.
Frequently asked questions
Can a dog ear hematoma heal on its own?
In some cases, untreated hematomas may heal on their own. However, this causes extreme discomfort for your dog and can lead to permanent ear damage.
How serious is a dog ear hematoma?
An aural hematoma is a severe condition. It’s extremely painful for your pup and can lead to permanent ear damage if left untreated.
Is a dog ear hematoma an emergency?
While a dog ear hematoma isn’t a cause for an immediate trip to the emergency vet, you should get your pup to your veterinarian as soon as possible. The faster your pup gets treatment, the less chance they have of scar formation along the ear. Of course, if your pup is in a lot of pain or actively bleeding, they should be rushed to the ER immediately.
Does every dog with an ear hematoma need surgery?
Depending on how severe the ear hematoma is, your dog may not need surgery. More mild cases may get a treatment plan for physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medicine. But if the case is more severe, surgery is often recommended.