Dog Ear Flap Hematomas

Dog ear flap hematomas can occur when your dog shakes his head violently, breaking blood vessels inside the ear. Blood leaks out and accumulates in the ear, giving it a swollen appearance. The ear may feel squishy, as if it is full of fluid. Dog ear flap hematomas can be unpleasant for your dog; they can block the ear canal, and, if untreated, lead to lasting changes in the shape of your dog's ear.

Treating Hematomas in the Dog Ear Flap

There are several different treatments for dog ear flap hematomas; all involve draining or removing the accumulated fluid. The three most common ways of treating dog ear hematomas are:

  • Pie crusting sutures
  • Aspiration
  • Placement of a teat cannula

Pie crusting sutures are one of the most common means of treating ear flap hematomas in dogs. Your vet will make an incision in the ear flap, allowed accumulated fluid and clots to drain. Your vet will then place several sutures in the ear flap, to keep the hematoma from coming back. Sutures may be place vertically or horizontally; they may or may not pierce all the way through the ear flap, and they may or may not require some removal of cartilage from the ear flap.

If your dog undergoes the pie crusting suture procedure, he'll need to keep the sutures for at least three weeks. This allows scar tissue to grow in the affected ear flap, which prevents hematoma recurrence. Your vet may or may not damage the ear. Your dog should wear a plastic collar during the recovery period to keep him from scratching at the sutures.

Aspiration involves removing fluid from the hematoma with a needle. Aspiration usually isn't as effective as other means of treatment, since hematomas can easily recur once fluid is removed. If clots are present in the hematoma, aspiration may not be an option.

Teat cannula placement uses a teat cannula, a device used to help maintain milk flow in cows with inflamed udders. Your vet can place a teat cannula in your dog's ear flap hematoma to allow fluid to drain slowly over several weeks. This is a very effective treatment for ear flap hematoma, but it can be difficult for many dogs to tolerate the presence of the teat cannula in the ear flap.

Ear Flap Hematoma and Ear Infection

Many dogs who develop ear flap hematomas also have ear infections. Ear infections can cause your dog to shake his head violently enough to break blood vessels in the ear and cause a hematoma. If your dog has an ear infection, he'll need antibiotics or antifungal medication to treat it.

Consequences of Leaving Ear Flap Hematomas Untreated

Ear flap hematomas present no serious risk to your dog's health, and if untreated, most will heal on their own. However, your dog could suffer cosmetic damage. Scarring can cause your dog's ear to take on a cauliflower appearance. Hematomas can take weeks or months to heal without treatment, and this can be quite uncomfortable for your dog.