Painful ear hematomas are common in dogs, but what are they and what causes them? Our Tucson vets explain more about ear hematomas in dogs, what to do if your dog has one, and the surgery used to treat them.
Dog Ear Hematomas - Aural Hematomas
A hematoma is a localized pocket of blood that develops within an organ or tissue, sometimes referred to as a 'blood blister.' Hematomas vary in size and location, but in the case of dog ear hematomas (aural hematomas), they appear between the skin and cartilage within your pup's ear flap (pinna). The swelling from your dog's hematoma could extend across the entire ear flap making it appear thick and spongy, or just in one area of the ear.
Ear hematomas can be very painful for dogs, and left untreated may lead to uncomfortable scarring that blocks the ear canal and affects your pup's hearing. If your dog shows signs of an ear hematoma (see below) it's important to book an examination with your vet right away.
Causes of Ear Hematomas In Dogs
A network of blood vessels runs between the skin on your dog's ear and the cartilage beneath. A hematoma occurs when these blood vessels become damaged and bleeding occurs below the surface of the skin.
Most ear hematomas in dogs occur due to self-inflicted injuries stemming from scratching or vigorous head shaking due to ear irritation.
Ear irritation in dogs can occur due to allergies, inflammation, parasites, trauma (bites or other wounds), foreign bodies in the ear, or immune-mediated disease.
Signs That Your Dog Has An Ear Hematoma
If your dog has an ear hematoma you will first notice soft, warm swelling on the inside of your dog's ear flap. In the later stages, this soft swelling will give way to scar tissue that will result in the hard, distorted appearance of the 'cauliflower' ear.
Treatment for Ear Hematomas in Dogs
Each case is unique and your vet is in the best position to recommend the treatment option that's best for your pup.
In some cases, dog ear hematomas will be drained and the area injected with a steroid. However, it's important to be aware that this form of treatment may need to be repeated over time.
Surgery is typically the quickest and most effective way to treat ear hematomas in dogs.
Cost of Dog Hematoma Surgery
Many pet parents are on a tight budget and ask us how much dog ear hematoma surgery costs. The truth is that the cost of veterinary surgery varies widely across the country. The cost of your dog's surgery will be determined by factors including the size of your pup, how complicated the surgery will be to remove the hematoma, and where you live geographically. To get an accurate estimate for your dog's surgery speak to the staff at your veterinary clinic. Most vets are happy to provide a detailed breakdown of costs and answer any questions you may have..
The Ear Hematoma Surgery Process
Ear hematoma surgery is broken into three steps:
The blood that has accumulated in the ear flap is removed either by making a small incision at each end of the hematoma and inserting a drain tube or by opening up the hematoma completely.
Next, your veterinary surgeon will close the pocket where the blood had accumulated by stitching the skin on both sides of the ear flap to the cartilage.
Finally, the ear is bandaged directly against your pup's head, or using supports, to prevent head shaking or scratching which could cause further injury to your dog's ear.
Follow-Up After Your Dog's Ear Hematoma Surgery
Depending on your dog's unique case, bandages and draining tubes will be removed at some point within about 14 days.
Any drainage holes still apparent in your dog's ear from the surgery will be left to heal on their own.
If your dog's ear has healed sufficiently after 14 days stitches will be removed, however, it is not uncommon for stitches to be left in place for longer.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.