When a dog's ear experiences trauma of any sort it can lead to various secondary conditions such as blood blisters known as hematomas. Here, our vets in Citrus Heights discuss the causes and symptoms of hematomas and what you can expect from your dog's ear hematoma surgery.
What Are Dog Ear Hematomas?
Hematomas are pockets of blood that form in the soft tissues. Your vet may also call these blood blisters. Hematomas vary in size and location, but dog ear hematomas (aural hematomas) 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.
What are the usual 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 skin's surface.
Most ear hematomas in dogs occur due to self-inflicted injuries 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 symptoms might my dog experience with 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.
What are the treatment options for dog ear hematomas?
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.
Generally, surgery will be the easiest, quickest, and most successful option for treating dog ear hematomas.
What are the steps during dog ear hematoma surgery?
If your dog needs ear hematoma surgery, the procedure may go something like this:
- 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.
Dog Hematoma Surgery: Cost
The cost of ear hematoma surgery in dogs will vary based on factors such as the complexity of the procedure and underlying causes that may also require treatment, the location of the clinic, and the prices laid out by the veterinary clinic.
Speak with our veterinary team to learn more about the expected cost of your dog's ear hematoma surgery.
What to Expect After Your Dog's Ear Hematoma Surgery
If your dog is diagnosed with an ear hematoma then you are likely wondering what to expect after surgery.
Your dog's ear hematoma surgery recovery will include the removal of the drainage tubes, typically after 14 or so 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.