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Dog Ear Hematoma (Aural Hematoma)

A friend contacted me today with this picture of her dogs ear and asked if any of my dogs have ever developed ear hematomas.

Sure enough they have.

Bull terriers are 5-7 times more likely to develop ear hematomas then other breeds with erect or upright ears so i figured i would share my experience incase it would be helpful to other dog owners!

From my understanding ear hematomas can develop for many different reasons but are most commonly caused due to some sort of trauma to the ear. Usually a dog shaking their head or scratching at their ears because of irritation from mites or an ear infection.

My dog developed her hematoma from shaking her head and pawing at a new collar I had put on her. The collar was bigger then her previous one and she wanted it OFF.

My first time seeing a hematoma on my dogs ear was a bit scary. Her ear looked extremely swollen and puffy and felt soft and full of liquid. I was not sure what was going on.

* Ear hematomas occurs when a blood vessel inside the earflap or surrounding area ruptures. Since there is nowhere for the blood to drain, the space between the skin and the cartilage fills with blood and becomes swollen and painful.

Below is what my dogs ear looked like. (photo not the actual picture of my dogs ear but very similar appearance)

Upon taking my dog to the vet I was given two options for treatment. There are multiple different ways to treat ear hematomas these are just the two my vet recommended.

  1. Leave the ear hematoma as it is and allow the ear to heal on its own. I was told it could take a long time to heal, was likely very painful for my dog and could adversely affect the upright appearance of my dogs ear. There was a higher chance that my dogs ear would not stand again.

  2. Have a punch biopsy done where the vet will make tiny holes in the skin to allow blood to drain from the ear and then suture the area to ensure the skin adheres back down onto the cartilage to limit recurrence. These sutures are left in place for 2 weeks.

Option 2 would likely relieve most of my dogs pain, would speed up the healing process and would increase the chances of my dogs ear looking as it did before the ear hematoma appeared. So that is what we did.

This is what her ear looked like after the procedure. (also not actual picture of my dogs ear but very close in appearance)

We kept a cone on my dog for about two weeks and during that time my dogs ear still had a lot of blood draining out of it and was a bloody mess. Healing seemed to take 3-4 weeks and my dogs ear never did stand up start again. I wish that I would have bandaged her ear up straight during the healing process so that it would have stood straight up again.

A couple years later another one of my dogs developed a hematoma on her ear from getting a yeast infection in her ear and scratching at it. The hematoma was smaller and it did not seem to irritate my dog so I decided this time to avoid the mess that followed the punch biopsy I would let it heal on its own and see how it goes. Our vet gave us some pain meds for a little bit to help her be in less pain and we waited it out.

It took a long time to heal. I would say at least 3 months before it was mostly healed. My dogs ear stood up after healing but there is a crinkle to her ear now but looks pretty good!

So ......... after both experiences with hematomas in my own dogs I think in the future I would have the punch biopsy done to speed up the healing and for a bull terrier whos ear is suppose to stand upright I would be more carful to gauze the ear to stand upright during the healing process so that the ear will still stand after all healed up. I was sad when my dogs ear healed and never stood upright again.

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