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Ear Hematomas in Dogs

What Are Ear Hematomas in Dogs?

Ear hematomas in dogs, alternatively referred to as auricular hematomas or aural hematomas, manifest when blood vessels rupture within the earflap, or pinna. With the accumulation of blood, the dog’s ear swells, resulting in the formation of an aural hematoma.


If your dog is experiencing an ear hematoma, it is often linked to an ear infection. One indication of ear infections in dogs is frequent head shaking, triggered by irritation within the ear. If your dog’s ear is infected, the earflap will swell and appear red and warm to the touch. The swelling might encompass the entire earflap or only a portion of it. Additionally, you might observe a foul odor or discharge emanating from your dog’s ear. Typically, only one ear is affected, although both ears can develop hematomas.


The primary cause of ear hematomas in dogs is typically an ear infection or irritation within the ear. Ear infections in dogs create irritation that prompts head shaking, ultimately resulting in the ear hematoma. Other factors leading to head shaking, such as ear mites, foreign objects lodged in the ear, and underlying conditions like allergies, can also contribute to ear hematomas. Less frequently, allergic skin conditions in dogs, immune system disorders, trauma, or deficiencies in blood clotting can precipitate ear hematomas in dogs.


Veterinarians diagnose ear hematomas through a physical examination. They will identify characteristic signs such as warmth, swelling, and redness or inflammation inside the earflap. Hematomas are frequently noticed alongside an ear infection or other causes for persistent head shaking in dogs.

Addressing the primary cause of your dog’s head shaking is crucial. The vet will use an otoscope to examine your dog’s ear and may recommend taking a sample or ear swab for cytology. This involves examining the swab under a microscope to detect the presence of bacteria and/or yeast.


Various treatments are available for reducing the swelling associated with ear hematomas in dogs. Medical management may involve the use of medications like steroids, antibiotics, and pain relievers. These medications might be combined with surgical interventions such as ear drainage or incision. Concurrent treatment of underlying conditions such as ear mites or infections is necessary.

Surgical drainage of the ear hematoma may be recommended if the swelling causes pain, discomfort, or blocks the ear canal significantly. Surgical drainage might also be advised if there’s concern about scarring leading to permanent ear canal deformity. During this procedure, the hematoma is pierced and drained under anesthesia, although recurrence is possible, necessitating multiple drainages.

In many cases, a drain is inserted into the dog’s ear to prevent additional fluid buildup in the earflap. Alternatively, a surgical incision with sutures placed strategically through the earflap can discourage fluid accumulation and promote drainage.

Treating an ear hematoma also involves addressing the underlying condition that triggered the dog’s head shaking, whether it’s an ear infection, mites, or another issue.

Living and Management

Dog Ear Hematoma Surgery Recovery

Following ear hematoma surgery, the veterinarian may apply bandages over your dog’s ear and head and will advise using an Elizabethan collar. You may be instructed to administer medications orally or into the ear through a hole in the bandage. It’s essential to monitor the bandage carefully at home.

A follow-up appointment will be necessary for the vet to evaluate the healing progress. The E-collar is crucial to prevent your dog from scratching the wound, which could lead to trauma and dislodging of the bandage and/or stitches. In some instances, despite timely and appropriate medical intervention, scarring may cause minor deformity of the earflap.


Taking steps to prevent ear infections and ear mites will also reduce the likelihood of hematomas developing in your dog. Prompt treatment of ear infections or mites is essential to prevent hematoma formation.

If you observe these common signs, it’s crucial to promptly take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment of ear infections or ear mites before a hematoma arises:

  • Frequent head shaking
  • Excessive ear scratching
  • Signs of pain, redness, or odor
  • Presence of crust or discharge in the ear
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