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What Is Aural Hematoma in Dogs?

What is it?

Aural hematoma in dogs is a condition where blood accumulates between the cartilage and skin of the ear flap, causing it to swell and become painful. It is typically caused by trauma, such as head shaking or ear scratching, and can occur in one or both ears. Aural hematoma can lead to discomfort and deformity if left untreated.

How is it Treated?

The treatment of aural hematoma in dogs typically involves draining the accumulated blood and managing the underlying cause of the condition, such as ear infections or allergies. Depending on the severity and recurrence of the hematoma, surgical options may also be considered. It is important to seek veterinary care promptly to ensure proper treatment and minimize the risk of complications.

Breed Predispositions

Cocker Spaniels Labrador Retrievers Beagles Golden Retrievers Bulldogs Pit Bull Terriers Shar Peis Boxers Basset Hounds Schnauzers


One sunny afternoon, Lisa was playing fetch with her energetic Border Collie, Luna, in the backyard when she noticed something unusual about her canine companion’s ear. Luna’s earflap appeared swollen and tender, causing her obvious discomfort. Concerned, Lisa immediately scheduled a visit to her trusted veterinarian. After a careful examination, the vet diagnosed Luna with an aural hematoma, a condition Lisa had never heard of before.

An aural hematoma in dogs, also known as an ear hematoma, manifests when blood gathers within the ear flap, specifically between the skin and cartilage. This usually results in a noticeable and occasionally painful swollen lump. Canine aural hematomas are fairly common, with breeds like Bull Terrier, Saint Bernard, and French Bulldog showing a higher propensity. The primary cause tends to be trauma to the ear, often a consequence of intense shaking or scratching instigated by an ear infection, mites, or allergies.

That being said, aural hematomas can spontaneously arise without an identifiable cause. While it can occur in any breed, those possessing large, floppy ears are often more susceptible. Suppose an aural hematoma is ignored and not treated promptly. In that case, it can result in a permanent ear deformity, often termed a “cauliflower ear,” due to scar tissue formation. Hence, immediate veterinary intervention is essential to drain the hematoma and address root conditions, thereby averting a recurrence.

What Causes Ear Hematomas in Dogs?

Hematomas in dogs, particularly within the ear flap or pinna, are rather frequent. For instance, one study discovered that 80 percent of dogs enduring secondary ear infections had pendulous, long floppy ears. In addition, the emergence of an aural hematoma is often tied to trauma to the ear, typically self-inflicted due to vigorous head shaking or scratching at the ear, a reaction generally spurred by discomfort.

The primary causes of this discomfort can range from ear infections and mites to foreign objects lodged in the external ear canal or skin allergies prompting itchiness. Moreover, the ear cartilage may become damaged, further contributing to the discomfort. While these are prevalent causes, certain dogs may develop aural hematomas without any discernible source, suggesting possible spontaneous rupturing of the small blood vessels within the ear flap.

aural hematoma in dogs

Furthermore, dogs boasting large, floppy ears, such as Cocker Spaniels or Basset Hounds, prone to ear infections, are more susceptible to this condition owing to the heightened potential for trauma when their ears swing or hit against objects. In addition, the blood may cause the ear flap to droop, affecting the whole ear, not just one ear. Occasionally, specific medical conditions leading to blood clotting disorders might result in aural hematomas, causing the small blood vessels to break and form a hematoma. Identifying and treating these conditions is crucial to avoid a recurrence and prevent ear deformity.

Symptoms of Canine Aural Hematomas

Symptoms of an ear hematoma in your dog may include

  • An ear flap’s swollen or puffy appearance suggests a fluid-filled swelling that may fluctuate in size
  • Redness or inflammation of the affected area, including the ear cartilage and skin, is another telltale sign of this ear problem.
  • Your pet may exhibit pain or discomfort when touching or manipulating the ear, often prompting head shaking or tilting to one side.
  • Scratching or rubbing of the affected ear may also be observed.

In more severe cases, signs of an ear hematoma may include the ear becoming crinkled or wrinkled due to scarring. Aural hematomas can permanently alter your pet’s earflap shape and thickness if left untreated. This swelling may also result in long-term nerve damage owing to decreased blood supply. In addition, the risk of infection is heightened as pus accumulates in the flap. Therefore, if you suspect your dog has an ear hematoma, it’s imperative to seek immediate treatment.

Diagnosing Aural Hematomas in Your Dog

Diagnosing aural hematomas in dogs generally involves a multifaceted approach, including a detailed physical examination, a review of the dog’s medical history, and a set of specific diagnostic tests. Here’s a rundown of the common diagnostic procedures that veterinarians use:

Physical Examination

Physical examination plays a pivotal role in diagnosing aural hematoma. First, vets carefully inspect the dog’s ear, looking for signs such as swelling, redness, and an enlarged ear flap indicative of hematoma formation. Next, they palpate the affected area, assessing the hematoma’s size, shape, and firmness. The dog’s reaction to touch and manipulation of the affected ear provides insight into any discomfort or pain, and this information, combined with other clinical findings, bolsters the diagnosis of aural hematoma. Yet, further diagnostic tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and identify what caused the hematoma in the first place.

Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)

Veterinarians commonly use Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) as a diagnostic procedure to diagnose aural hematomas. During FNA, a small-gauge needle is inserted into the swollen region of the ear flap to extract a sample of fluid or blood. This sample is then microscopically examined to see if it contains blood cells or other components suggestive of a hematoma. FNA serves to confirm the presence of aural hematoma, assess its severity, and eliminate other potential conditions that may present with similar symptoms. It also sheds light on the underlying cause of the hematoma, such as an infection or trauma.

Additional Diagnostic Tests

The vet will aim to exclude other possible causes of ear swelling and discomfort, like infections, foreign objects, or tumors. This typically involves additional tests such as:

  • Ear Cytology – This test involves taking a sample from the ear canal and examining it under a microscope. It helps identify inflammatory cells, bacteria, yeast, or other organisms contributing to the hematoma’s development.
  • Bacterial or Fungal Cultures – These involve taking a sample from the affected ear and cultivating it in a lab. If present, this helps identify the specific microorganism causing an infection and informs appropriate treatment decisions.
  • Imaging Studies – X-rays or ultrasounds might examine the ear’s internal structures and identify any underlying causes or complications linked with the aural hematoma. This information allows vets to diagnose more accurately and create a targeted treatment plan.

The specific approach to diagnosing aural hematomas can also depend on individual cases and the vet’s discretion. Nonetheless, prompt diagnosis is key to determining the hematoma’s cause and guiding the best course of treatment.

Treatment for Ear Hematomas

The strategy for treating an ear hematoma in dogs hinges on the severity and root causes of the condition. The following explains different treatment routes that vets might suggest:

Minor Ear Hematomas

For minor instances of ear hematoma, characterized by a small hematoma and mild underlying issues, vets may choose non-surgical treatment methods, such as:

a basset hound and a vet
  • Rest and Monitoring: Advising the dog to rest and avoid actions that might worsen the ear hematoma, thus allowing it to heal over time naturally.
  • Medication: Prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs, like steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can alleviate discomfort and reduce inflammation inside the ear flap.
  • Compression Bandages: The application of a compression bandage or splint on the impacted ear can assist in lowering swelling and preventing the buildup of more fluid.

Severe Ear Hematomas

More aggressive treatment might be needed in the case of severe ear hematomas, where the hematoma is large, recurring, or accompanied by underlying issues needing attention. Larger hematomas often call for such steps as:

  • Surgical Drainage and Closure: A vet may carry out ear hematoma surgery, which involves draining the gathered blood from the hematoma and stitching the ear’s layers together to encourage healing and prevent a recurrence. This surgery is usually the best treatment for treating an ear hematoma effectively.
  • Addressing Underlying Causes: The vet will identify and address any underlying reason for the hematoma, such as ear infections or mites, to prevent further ear trauma.
  • Post-Surgical Care: After dog ear hematoma surgery, the dog might require post-operative care that includes pain management, antibiotic treatment, and regular check-up visits to monitor healing and watch for complications.

Home Remedies

Despite the essential role of professional veterinary care in diagnosing and treating an ear hematoma in dogs, some home remedies can offer temporary relief or support veterinary treatment. However, it’s crucial to remember that these remedies should differ from professional veterinary care.

  • Warm Compress: A warm compress on the impacted ear can assist in reducing swelling and fostering better blood circulation. Gently apply a clean, warm water-soaked cloth to the ear daily.
  • Epsom Salt Soak: Dissolve Epsom salt in lukewarm water and immerse a clean cloth in the solution. Apply the cloth gently to the affected ear to alleviate inflammation.
  • Herbal Remedies: Some herbs like chamomile or calendula may possess anti-inflammatory properties. Seek guidance from a holistic vet for suitable herbal remedies and correct usage instructions.
  • Prevent Scratching: Stop the dog from excessively scratching or shaking its head, which can exacerbate the condition. Using an Elizabethan collar or trimming the dog’s nails can prevent further ear trauma.

Remember, dogs’ treatment choice for an ear hematoma depends on individual circumstances and the severity of the condition. So, consult a veterinarian to decide the most appropriate treatment plan for your dog’s needs.

Recovery and Prevention of Ear Hematomas in Dogs

There are several steps pet owners can undertake to assist in preventing the occurrence of aural hematomas in dogs:

  1. Routine Ear Cleaning: Regularly keeping the ears free from dirt and debris can lower the chances of infections, reducing irritation and scratching. Utilize an ear cleaner approved by a veterinarian, and gently clean the ears as part of the regular grooming schedule.
  2. Prevention of Trauma and Injuries: Avoiding excessive head shaking and scratching can help decrease the possibility of trauma to the ear cartilage, which may lead to an aural hematoma. Regularly trim your dog’s nails to lessen the chances of injuring the ears from scratching.
  3. Managing Underlying Ear Conditions: Early treatment and management of potential ear infections or other related conditions can ward off aural hematomas. If any ear infection sa symptoms become apparent, such as unusual scratching, redness, swelling, or discharge, seek immediate veterinary attention to address the issue.
  4. Regular Vet Visits: Regular check-ups with the vet can help ensure your dog’s overall well-being, including ear health. A vet can examine the ears, spot any early signs of inflammation or infection, and provide suitable preventive care suggestions.
  5. Allergy Prevention: Allergies can lead to inflammation and itching in the ear, escalating the risk of aural hematomas. Recognize and manage any allergies your dog may have, be it food allergies, environmental allergies, or flea allergies, with the guidance of your veterinarian.
  6. Avoidance of Rough Play and Head Trauma: Limit rough play or activities that might cause head trauma, such as over-zealous head shaking or collisions with objects. Supervise your dog during playtime to avoid accidental injuries and protect the ear.

In the days following surgery or treatment for an aural hematoma, it’s crucial to follow your vet’s advice for care and monitoring to prevent a recurrence. By adhering to these preventive steps and ensuring regular veterinary care, pet owners can help lessen the likelihood of their dogs developing an aural hematoma. In addition, the early identification and suitable treatment of underlying ear issues can also contribute to preventing the condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

There can be several reasons your dog’s ear flap may be bleeding. Common causes include:

  1. Ear infections: Chronic or severe ear infections can cause irritation, inflammation, and damage to the ear flap, leading to bleeding.
  2. Trauma or injury: Your dog may have experienced trauma or injury to the ear flap, such as a bite, scratch, or accidental injury, resulting in bleeding.
  3. Hematomas: A hematoma is a blood collection that forms under the skin, often caused by trauma or vigorous head shaking. It can cause the ear flap to become swollen and bleed.
  4. Foreign objects or ear mites: The presence of foreign objects, such as foxtails or ticks, or infestation with ear mites can lead to irritation, scratching, and subsequent bleeding.

If a hematoma on a dog bursts, it can result in a release of blood and fluid from the affected area. This can lead to further swelling, discomfort, and potential infection. In addition, the dog may experience pain or discomfort as the hematoma drains, and there may be ongoing bleeding until the blood vessels in the area can clot and stop the bleeding.

It’s important to address a burst hematoma promptly to prevent complications. Treatment may involve cleaning the area, applying pressure to stop the bleeding, and potentially suturing the wound or using other appropriate wound management techniques.

A dog’s hematoma should be drained when it is causing significant discomfort, is very large or rapidly growing, or is interfering with its ability to move or function normally. Additionally, drainage may be necessary to address the underlying issue if the hematoma is repeatedly recurring despite previous treatments.

The cost of draining a dog’s hematoma can vary depending on factors such as the size and location of the hematoma, the geographic location, and the specific veterinarian or clinic. Generally, the cost can range from $200 to $600 or more. Therefore, it is best to consult your veterinarian to get an accurate estimate based on your dog’s specific situation and the local pricing. They will be able to provide you with an estimate and discuss the associated costs involved in the procedure.

Sometimes, a dog’s ear hematoma may resolve independently without intervention. However, veterinary treatment for a hematoma is generally recommended to prevent complications and promote proper healing. Without treatment, the hematoma may persist, become infected, or lead to scar tissue formation, which can cause long-term ear problems. Your veterinarian can assess the severity of the hematoma and provide appropriate treatment options, which may include draining the hematoma, administering medication, and addressing the underlying cause to prevent recurrence.

Potential complications can arise if a dog’s ear hematoma is left untreated. The hematoma may continue to grow in size, causing discomfort and pain for the dog. As the hematoma expands, it can pressure the ear tissues, leading to damage and deformation of the ear flap. The increased pressure can also impair blood circulation to the affected area, which may result in tissue death (necrosis) and infection. Furthermore, without appropriate treatment, the underlying cause of the hematoma, such as an ear infection or allergy, may persist and contribute to ongoing ear problems.

Draining a dog’s ear hematoma at home is not recommended. Ear hematomas should be evaluated and treated by a veterinarian. Draining a hematoma involves making a small incision to release the accumulated blood and then applying proper bandaging or sutures to prevent re-accumulation. Performing this procedure at home without proper knowledge, training, and sterile conditions can lead to complications and further injury to the dog’s ear. It’s important to consult a veterinarian who can assess the hematoma, determine the underlying cause, and provide appropriate treatment options for your dog’s situation.

The outcome of a dog’s ear hematoma can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the hematoma, the underlying cause, and the treatment provided. The ear can often heal and return to a relatively normal state with appropriate veterinary care, including hematoma drainage and addressing the underlying issue. However, in some cases, especially if the hematoma is large or left untreated, the ear may develop scarring, thickening, or a slightly altered appearance.

Aural hematomas in dogs refer to a collection of blood that forms between the skin and cartilage of the ear flap. While surgical intervention is often recommended to treat aural hematomas effectively, nonsurgical options may be attempted in certain cases, although their success rates can vary. Here are a few nonsurgical treatments that may be considered:

  1. Aspiration and Bandaging: This involves draining the accumulated blood from the hematoma using a needle or syringe. After drainage, the ear may be bandaged to minimize further bleeding and promote healing. However, the success of this method depends on the size and location of the hematoma.
  2. Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid medications can be administered directly into the hematoma to reduce inflammation and promote absorption of the blood. However, this treatment may have varying success rates and is typically more effective in smaller hematomas.
  3. Combination Therapy: In some cases, a combination of aspiration, medication, and bandaging may be used to manage aural hematomas without surgery. This approach aims to reduce inflammation, prevent further bleeding, and allow the body to gradually reabsorb the collected blood.

It’s important to note that nonsurgical treatments may not be as effective as surgical intervention in fully resolving aural hematomas. Surgical drainage and repair, such as the use of sutures or a drainage tube, are often considered the most reliable and long-lasting options for treating aural hematomas.

An aural hematoma itself is typically not a life-threatening condition for dogs. While it can cause discomfort and affect the appearance of the ear, it is not directly fatal. However, if left untreated or if the underlying cause is not addressed, complications can arise, such as infection or necrosis of the ear tissue, which can potentially pose a risk to the dog’s overall health. It is important to seek veterinary care to properly diagnose and treat the hematoma, addressing any underlying causes, to prevent potential complications and ensure the well-being of your dog.

Dog ear hematomas are not contagious and cannot be transmitted to other animals or humans. Ear hematomas result from blood accumulating in the ear flap due to trauma or injury. Therefore, an infectious disease or infection does not cause them. However, it’s important to note that some underlying conditions, such as ear infections, can be contagious between dogs and potentially spread to other animals or humans. Therefore, practicing good hygiene and seeking veterinary care are always recommended if you suspect any health issues in your pet.

No, there is currently no vaccine available specifically for dog ear hematomas. Vaccines are typically used to prevent infectious diseases by stimulating the immune system to recognize and fight specific pathogens. However, ear hematomas are not caused by infectious agents, but rather by trauma or underlying conditions that lead to blood accumulation in the ear flap.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

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