Our Tigard vets often see dogs with painful ear hematomas, but what are they, what causes them, and what are the symptoms? Read on to learn more about aural hematomas in dogs, and what to do if your dog has one.
What are dog ear hematomas (aural hematomas)?
A hematoma, also known as a "blood blister," is a small pocket of blood that forms inside of an organ or tissue. Hematomas can range in size and location, but dog ear hematomas (also known as aural hematomas) are cartilage growths that appear in your dog's ear flap, or pinna. Your dog's hematoma may cause swelling in one area of the ear or spread across the entire ear flap, making it appear thick and spongy.
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.
What causes ear hematomas in dogs?
Between the skin and the cartilage in your dog's ear is a network of blood vessels. When these blood vessels are harmed and bleeding occurs below the skin's surface, a hematoma is created.
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.
What are the signs of ear hematomas in dogs?
The inside of your dog's ear flap will first show signs of a soft, warm swelling if there is an ear hematoma present. This soft swelling will eventually give way to scar tissue, giving the "cauliflower" ear its hard, distorted appearance.
How are ear hematomas in dogs treated?
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.
In most cases, surgery is the quickest and most effective way to treat ear hematomas in dogs. If you're wondering how much ear hematoma surgery will cost your dog, you should always contact your veterinarian directly. They should be able to provide you with a precise estimate.
How is ear hematoma surgery on dogs performed?
This 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 completely opening up the hematoma.
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.
Is there a follow-up required?
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.
What to Expect After Dog Ear Hematoma Surgery
Recovery time from ear hematoma surgery in dogs is relatively short.The recovery time after hematoma removal is approximately two weeks. Your dog may be sore for a few days after surgery, but your veterinarian will give you pain relievers and anti-inflammatories to help. Antibiotics will be administered if necessary.
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.