Aural Hematomas: What Dog Owners Need To Know

From time to time, some dogs develop what are known as hematomas in their ears. These are basically pockets of blood that form in the ear tissue after a blood vessel bursts. They are also sometimes known as aural hematomas; the word "aural" means "ear." Most hematomas will eventually drain and heal on their own, but leaving them to heal on their own may cause unnecessary pain and permanent deformities of the ear. So, it's a good idea to take your dog to the vet if they ever develop a swelling in their ear that you suspect may be a hematoma. Here are the key treatments your vet is likely to administer.

Treatment for Any Underlying Condition

First, the vet will generally assess if there is an underlying cause that contributed to your dog's hematoma formation. Sometimes, for instance, a hematoma occurs after an ear mite bites your dog's ear. If your vet sees evidence of ear mites, they'll administer a medication to treat them. Other times, the hematoma occurs as the result of an ear infection, which your vet can treat with antibiotics. Sometimes there is no obvious underlying cause, and the vet's best guess may be that your dog hit their ear on something or scratched it too hard, causing the blood vessel to rupture.

Syringe Drainage

If your dog's hematoma is relatively small, then the vet may use a method called syringe drainage to remove the blood from it. First, this will give your dog a sedative to keep them calm and a local anesthetic to numb their ear. Then, they will use a needle to pierce the pocket between the skin and the cartilage. They'll insert a syringe, and use it to pull the blood out from the pocket. This will leave a small wound that the vet will then close with a stitch or two.

Surgical Drainage

For larger hematomas, the vet will often need to perform a more involved technique called surgical drainage. Dogs are usually put under general anesthesia for this. An incision is made in the hematoma, and all of the collected blood is removed. Then, the area is stitched shut. Sometimes, a drain may be placed in the incision for a few days to collect and drain away any new fluid that accumulates. This will then be removed at a follow-up visit.

In either case, your dog will generally be given some pain relievers to keep them comfortable as they recover. Most dogs make a full recovery from aural hematoma with the proper care.

Contact a local veterinarian to learn more.