What Causes Ear Hematoma In Dogs

Dogs are known to be loyal companions to human beings. However, they are prone to various health conditions, one of which is an ear hematoma. In this article, we will discuss what ear hematomas are, which breeds are susceptible to them, their symptoms, causes, and treatment options, prevention measures, and aftercare. Ear hematomas can be a painful and uncomfortable condition for dogs, and it is essential for their owners to understand the issue and how to help them.

Understanding the anatomy of a dog’s ear

Before delving into what ear hematomas are and their causes, it’s necessary to have a basic understanding of the structure of a dog’s ear. A dog’s ear has three parts: the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear is the part visible to us, the middle ear contains the eardrum and ossicles, while the inner ear houses the cochlea and vestibular system. The pinna, or the floppy part of the ear, is what we see on the outside. Its shape and size are determined by the breed of the dog.

The outer ear is made up of skin and cartilage, and it’s designed to protect the middle and inner ear from foreign objects and debris. The middle ear is connected to the back of the throat by the Eustachian tube, which helps regulate air pressure and drain fluids. The inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance, and it contains delicate structures that can be easily damaged by infections or injuries.

It’s important to note that some dog breeds are more prone to ear problems than others. Breeds with long, floppy ears, such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels, are more likely to develop ear infections and hematomas due to poor air circulation and increased moisture in the ear canal. Regular ear cleaning and maintenance can help prevent these issues from occurring.

What is an ear hematoma and how does it develop?

An ear hematoma is a painful condition that occurs when blood collects between the skin and cartilage of a dog’s ear flap. The condition is caused by trauma or injury to the ear. When the tissue inside the ear is damaged, blood vessels break, leading to the accumulation of blood. The swelling of the ear flap results from the buildup of blood in the area, and if left untreated, the ear could become permanently disfigured.

Common causes of ear hematomas in dogs include shaking their head excessively, scratching their ears, or trauma from a fight with another animal. Certain breeds with floppy ears, such as Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds, are also more prone to developing ear hematomas. Treatment for an ear hematoma typically involves draining the blood and administering medication to reduce inflammation and pain. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to prevent the ear from becoming permanently disfigured.

Common breeds prone to ear hematomas

Some dog breeds are more likely to experience an ear hematoma compared to others. Those with floppy ears like Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, and Beagles are predisposed to the condition. German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers are also known to develop ear hematomas, although at a lower rate.

Other breeds that are prone to ear hematomas include Bulldogs, Shar Peis, and Pit Bulls. These breeds have thick, heavy ear flaps that can easily trap moisture and bacteria, leading to inflammation and subsequent hematoma formation.

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It’s important to note that while certain breeds may be more susceptible to ear hematomas, any dog can develop this condition. Factors such as ear infections, trauma to the ear, and allergies can all contribute to the development of a hematoma.

Symptoms of an ear hematoma in dogs

The most common symptom of an ear hematoma is a swollen ear flap that looks like a blister. The swelling is usually noticeable and can cause discomfort to the dog. Dogs with ear hematomas may scratch or shake their heads frequently and display signs of pain when their ears are touched. There may also be fluid discharge from the affected ear, which can sometimes be bloody. In severe cases, the dog may show signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, or depression.

It is important to note that ear hematomas can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, allergies, and ear infections. If left untreated, the hematoma can become more severe and lead to permanent damage to the ear. Treatment options for ear hematomas include draining the fluid and administering medication to reduce inflammation and pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to prevent the hematoma from recurring.

Prevention is key when it comes to ear hematomas in dogs. Regular ear cleaning and inspection can help identify any potential issues early on. It is also important to address any underlying conditions, such as allergies or ear infections, that may contribute to the development of a hematoma. If you notice any symptoms of an ear hematoma in your dog, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

Causes of ear hematomas in dogs – Trauma, Infections, Allergies, etc.

Ear hematomas in dogs can be caused by numerous factors, including trauma to the ear, infections, allergies, or other underlying health conditions. Trauma to the ear can happen when a dog shakes its head or scratches its ear excessively. Infections, such as ear mites, bacterial or yeast infections, and allergies to flea bites, can also cause ear hematomas. Sometimes, blood clotting disorders may also contribute to the formation of ear hematoma in dogs.

Another potential cause of ear hematomas in dogs is the presence of foreign objects in the ear canal. This can include things like grass seeds, small rocks, or even insects. These objects can irritate the ear and cause a dog to scratch or shake its head, leading to the formation of a hematoma.

In some cases, ear hematomas may also be a symptom of an underlying health condition, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. These conditions can cause a dog’s skin to become thin and fragile, making it more susceptible to injury and hematoma formation. If you suspect that your dog may have an underlying health condition, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.

How to diagnose an ear hematoma in dogs

If you suspect that your dog has an ear hematoma, it’s essential to take it to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. During the physical examination, the vet will inspect the ear flap’s swelling and evaluate the severity of the hematoma. In some cases, the vet may also perform a fine needle aspiration to drain the blood from the ear. Additionally, they may test the dog’s blood to determine if they have an underlying blood clotting disorder.

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It’s important to note that ear hematomas can be a sign of an underlying ear infection or allergy. If your dog has a history of ear problems, it’s crucial to inform the vet during the examination. The vet may need to perform additional tests to determine the root cause of the hematoma and provide appropriate treatment.

After the diagnosis, the vet will recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of the hematoma. In mild cases, the vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and recommend rest to allow the hematoma to heal on its own. However, in severe cases, surgery may be necessary to drain the blood and prevent further damage to the ear. It’s essential to follow the vet’s instructions carefully and monitor your dog’s progress to ensure a full recovery.

Can ear hematomas be prevented?

Preventing ear hematomas in dogs involves maintaining proper ear hygiene. Regularly cleaning your dog’s ears can help prevent infections that lead to the development of ear hematomas. Additionally, taking steps to prevent ear damage, such as keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, can help reduce the risk of experiencing trauma to the ear. It is essential to seek prompt veterinary care if you suspect your dog may have an ear infection, as infections can lead to the development of hematoma if left untreated.

Another way to prevent ear hematomas is to avoid activities that may cause your dog to shake their head excessively. This can include activities such as playing fetch or swimming. If your dog is prone to ear infections or has floppy ears, you may want to consider using ear drying solutions after bathing or swimming to help prevent moisture buildup in the ear canal.

In some cases, ear hematomas may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as an autoimmune disorder or a blood clotting disorder. If your dog has a history of ear hematomas or other unexplained bleeding, it is important to discuss this with your veterinarian to determine if further testing or treatment is necessary.

Treatment options for ear hematomas in dogs – Surgery or Non-surgical approach?

The treatment for ear hematomas depends on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, the vet may opt to address the underlying cause, such as an ear infection, to allow the hematoma to heal on its own. However, in more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to drain the blood and prevent further swelling. Surgery usually involves making a small incision in the ear flap, draining the blood, and then closing the incision with sutures. Occasionally, a special drain may be placed to help reduce fluid accumulation in the ear. Postoperative care involves pain management and monitoring the dog for any signs of infection.

It is important to note that while surgery may be necessary in some cases, it does come with risks and potential complications. These can include bleeding, infection, and damage to the ear tissue. Additionally, surgery may not always be a viable option for older dogs or those with underlying health conditions. In these cases, a non-surgical approach may be the only option. This can involve draining the hematoma using a needle and syringe, and then using a compression bandage to prevent further swelling. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your dog based on their individual circumstances.

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Recovery and aftercare for dogs with ear hematomas

After undergoing surgery or non-surgical treatment for ear hematomas, it’s essential to provide aftercare for your dog. Following the vet’s instructions for administering medication, monitoring the dog’s movement, and restricting activities that could stress the ear are crucial for recovery. A veterinary follow-up may also be required to ensure that the dog’s ear is healing correctly. It’s also essential to prevent the development of secondary infections that could delay the healing process.

During the recovery period, it’s important to keep your dog’s ear clean and dry. Your vet may recommend using a special ear cleaning solution to prevent the buildup of wax and debris that could lead to infection. It’s also important to keep your dog’s collar loose to prevent any pressure on the ear. If your dog continues to scratch or rub their ear, you may need to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent further damage. With proper aftercare, most dogs with ear hematomas can make a full recovery and return to their normal activities.

How to avoid recurrence of ear hematomas in dogs

Although ear hematomas can occur more than once, taking steps to prevent their recurrence is crucial. Regularly examining your dog’s ears for signs of infection, cleaning the ears regularly, and monitoring their behaviors to prevent injury to the ear are necessary. It’s also essential to maintain the dog’s weight at a healthy level to reduce the risk of obesity-related health problems, such as ear infections and hematomas.

When to see a veterinarian for your dog’s ear hematoma

If you notice your dog has a swollen ear flap, consult your veterinarian. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the successful management of ear hematomas. Additionally, if the dog displays other symptoms such as pain, lethargy, or loss of appetite, seek veterinary care immediately.


Ear hematomas are a common health problem among dogs. While they can be uncomfortable and painful for dogs, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent permanent disfigurement of the ear flap. Regular cleaning of the ears, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking steps to prevent trauma to the ear can also reduce the risk of ear hematomas in dogs. If you suspect that your dog may have an ear hematoma, it’s essential to seek prompt veterinary care to ensure that your furry companion remains healthy.

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