Ear health and care is a very important subject when it comes to Doodles. In fact, one of the most common health issues vets see Doodles for is ear infections. Now, we’ve already covered ear infections in another article, but there are a variety of other ear health topics Doodle owners should know about. In this article, we’re specifically going to talk about aural hematomas, or the dog ear hematoma. These are the most common type of injuries to the pinna (ear flap).
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Why is My Dog’s Ear Filling Up With Fluid?
An aural hematoma is when a dog’s ear flap fills with fluid. The fluid is actually blood that pools up after the blood vessels inside the ear flap break. When this happens, the inside of the ear flap becomes dark pink/red, the swelling is visible, and the ear flap feels squishy.
In other words, a hematoma is basically a big blood clot, or bruise, inside the ear flap.
So what causes dog ear hematomas? They usually arise as self-inflicted injuries, like from your dog’s scratching or head shaking. Other sources of irritation linked to aural hematomas include:
- Immune mediated diseases
- Foreign bodies
- Trauma (bite wound or blunt trauma)
- Irritation from getting the ear hairs plucked
- Underlying causes, including any conditions that result in infection of the external ear canal (otitis externa)
Most dogs with an aural hematoma usually have an infection at the same time. Recurring hematomas are common if the underlying condition is not resolved.
Doodles in particular are more prone to hematomas because they have floppy ears. Hematomas are also associated with increased capillary fragility. This is seen with Cushing’s disease, for example, which is common in Aussiedoodles.
How Serious is a Dog Ear Hematoma?
Can a dog ear hematoma heal itself? Hematomas are technically considered a minor condition. However, they can take several months to heal. And since a dog ear hematoma can be extremely painful, and because they are usually seen with active ear infections, treatment is always highly recommended.
What Happens if You Leave a Dog Ear Hematoma Untreated?
If a dog ear hematoma is left untreated, the blood clot will eventually retract and dissolve and the swelling will go away. This process happens gradually over a period of 10 days to 6 weeks. (Source)
In some cases, it will make the ear flap shrink down into a knotted cauliflower shape called “cauliflower ear”. In other cases the ear will heal normally.
It is impossible to predict which type of healing will occur in a given ear. But the smaller the hematoma is, the less likely the scar will cause the ear to become deformed.
Keep in mind that this is an uncomfortable time for your dog, so veterinary guidance is always the best idea.
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How Do You Treat a Hematoma on a Dog’s Ear?
In short, you don’t really have to do anything for a dog ear hematoma. They usually resolve on their own.
What needs treating in this situation is the underlying problem. The inside of the ear can itch because of an allergy, for example. And as commonly seen in long-haired Doodles, the ears may be irritated from getting the ear hairs plucked during a recent visit to the groomer. Sometimes there is a bacterial or fungal infection in the ear, as well, which commonly accompany dog ear hematomas.
These are a few good reasons why you would want to get the dog ear hematoma treated by a vet. Not to mention, they can be extremely painful for your dog.
Luckily, basic treatment is typically easy and effective. Your vet may prescribe a an ear cleaning solution with steroids such as ZYMOX Otic Enzymatic Solution with HC (hydrocortisone) ear drops. This medication helps gets rid of the ear infection and reduces itching and pain. This, in turn, keeps the dog from scratching or shaking his head which causes more trauma to the ears.
Here is a picture of our vet’s notes when we took Chloe in to be seen for swollen ear flaps. She was diagnosed with an ear infection with aural hematomas in both ears. Her prescription was ZYMOX with Hydrocortisone and it cleared it up within a few days – no surgery needed.
You should most definitely go and get this seen by your vet. However, ZYMOX Otic Enzymatic Solution with HC is available for purchase over-the-counter through various online retailers.
Hematomas should be treated as soon as possible. According to Tommy Asinga, DVM:
“If they are left untreated, fibrin formation can occur, leading to fibrosis, contraction and thickening, potentially leaving the ear with a deformed cauliflower-like appearance.” (Source)
Surgery may become necessary depending on the severity of the hematoma. The goals of the surgery are to drain and remove the hematoma, reduce the risk of disfigurement, and prevent recurrence. If treatment is delayed, surgery may become more difficult and scars are more likely to form.
However, surgery requires your dog to undergo anesthesia and post-operative recovery.
Dog Ear Hematoma Surgery Cost
How much does it cost to fix a dog’s ear hematoma? The cost can vary from $250-$500 or more. It really depends on the size of the hematoma and the extent of follow-up care by your vet.
Having pet insurance is a smart way to mitigate unexpected issues such as dog ear hematoma surgery, or more serious conditions that could arise at any time.
What Happens After a Dog Ear Hematoma Surgery?
After the surgery to remove the hematoma, your vet may advise you on how to speed the healing.
First, the ear flap will be bandaged to minimize damage and promote healing.
Your vet will then remove any drainage tubes and bandages after 3-14 days. Then, the sutures may be removed after 2 weeks if the ear is completely healed. If the ear hasn’t yet healed, some or all of the sutures may need to stay in for another 2 weeks.
Dog Ear Hematoma Wrap
After the dog ear hematoma is drained, you should bind it tightly. The pressure will prevent additional fluid from pooling within the ear flap. Your vet may recommend a no-flap ear wrap like the Happy Hoodie. This will keep your dog’s ears secure while he heals.
Hematoma Home Treatment
If you’re not concerned about getting professional treatment for a dog ear hematoma, you can try to treat it at home. (Do so at your own risk!)
The best thing you can do is clean out the dog’s ear canal well with an ear cleansing solution such as ZYMOX. Squirt in the solution generously and massage the canal well. Your dog probably won’t find this very comfortable, so expect him to shake his head to get rid of the liquid in his ears. Use a cotton ball to wipe the drained solution from his ears. Repeat this cycle 5-10 times per ear.
Clean the ear every day following the steps above, until the hematoma and/or underlying cause has been rectified.
How to Drain an Ear Hematoma at Home
You might be wondering, can I pop a hematoma on my dog’s ear?
Technically, the fluid can be removed at home using a disinfected syringe. However, medical procedures like this are best left to the professionals. So before attempting to do it yourself, seriously ask yourself if you are truly comfortable with proceeding.
Natural Remedies for Hematomas
If you would prefer a more natural solution, you could try one part apple cider vinegar to two parts water in place of the ZYMOX. Squirt in the mixture generously and massage the canal well. Let him shake his head and then repeat this cycle 5-10 times per ear.
As we know, many vets will recommend surgery. But there are other options worth trying first. For example, Yunnan Bai Yao, Arnica montana 30C, Hamamelis 30C, yarrow oil, and witch hazel can all be effective at healing a dog ear hematoma naturally. For dosing and application instructions, check out this article.
The information on this page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified animal health provider with any questions you may have.