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Dog’s Ear Swollen? It Might Be a Hematoma

Is your dog suddenly shying away from ear scratches? If your dog is being protective of an ear or you notice redness and swelling, a hematoma may be to blame. Though fairly common, this condition is painful and will require treatment from your vet.

Here’s how to recognize a hematoma and look out for your best friend’s ears. 

What is an aural hematoma?

dog ear hematoma

photo credit: Senior Tail Waggers

An aural hematoma is essentially a blood blister that occurs on the pinna, or flap, of your dog’s ear. They are almost always the result of trauma. 

Minor injuries can break the blood vessels that run between the delicate skin and cartilage of a dog’s ear, causing a blood-filled pocket to form. Hematomas can vary in size and may feel firm or squishy to the touch, though your pet will likely protest if you try to handle their ears. 

What causes hematomas in dogs’ ears?

Though any kind of injury to the ear could cause a hematoma, they most frequently occur when allergies, infections, or ear mites cause dogs to scratch their ears or shake their heads excessively. 

Dog breeds most at risk:beagle aural hematoma

Because they are usually the result of self-injuries from scratching and pawing, breeds prone to ear infections are at the greatest risk for aural hematomas. Be extra vigilant with pups with floppy ears and heavy skin folds like: 

  • Basset hounds
  • Cocker spaniels 
  • Beagles
  • Shar-Peis
  • Labradors
  • Boxers
  • Bloodhounds 

Can I prevent them?

The best way to prevent hematomas is by addressing their common root causes. This means treating your dog’s seasonal allergies, keeping their ears clean, and seeking help for ear infections right away.

How are aural hematomas treated?

This condition won’t typically resolve on its own. Untreated hematomas can cause pets pain, block the ear canal and prolong infections, due to scar tissue. They may also leave behind a pocket in the tissue of your pup’s ear that is likely to quickly refill with blood. 

Your vet will place a drain to resolve the hematoma so that it doesn’t recur and treat the underlying condition that caused it to develop. 

What to do if a hematoma bursts on its own:

If a hematoma does rupture on its own, clean the area with mild soap and water and apply gentle pressure to the ear to stop the bleeding. 

A veterinarian will still need to repair the area to prevent infections and keep the hematoma from refilling with blood.